| Western vs. Eastern mystery traditions --> one of
things you need to conceptualize, if you're interested in
witchcraft, is that it's a WESTERN mystery tradition. The
important dichotomy here is outer-vs.-inner. In the Eastern
traditions, the adept commonly seeks some sort of mystical union
with the great Oneness, which implies a withdrawal from the
common, everyday life of human beings, and a focus on one's
internal processes. In the Western traditions, the adept is very
much a part of the activities and community of humankind. A witch
does indeed have a special awareness of their inner world and
their connection with the all-permeating Oneness (Goddess), but a
witch is also a member of society--a farmer, a healer, a parent, a
warrior, a writer, a scientist, an artist, a computer programmer,
etc. In becoming a witch, you don't dissociate your spiritual
life from the rest of your life--rather, you apply the principles
of the Craft in everything you do. You seek to take what you
learned on an inner level and MANIFEST that awareness on an outer
level. This is not to be confused with the Christian dichotomy
works vs. faith. Witches don't have to BELIEVE in anything--they
are much too concrete, too practical for such notions. The
rituals of the Craft all get down to the same thing: sanctifying
the everyday activities of your life. When a witch makes love,
writes a program, cooks a meal, rides a bike, these are all the
rituals of the Goddess.
What to do:
--learn some simple form of meditation, and practice
the idea being to master the art of a QUIET MIND. In order to
attentive to the world around you, you have to learn to let go of
the inner chattering.
T.S. Eliot (in "East Coker") puts it this way:
"...the mind is conscious, but conscious of nothing--
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there
is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness
Listen to everything. Above all, listen to
Starhawk recommends a regular program of exercise, and I agree.
Again, it quiets the mind.
--get in touch with the movements of the Earth and
Get a calender that has Moon phases, and make a point of knowing
what phase you're in, at all times. Notice the differences
between the dark of the moon (empty but ready for new birth), the
new moon (time for initiating things), the waxing moon (growing in
power), the full moon (peak of intensity), and the waning moon
(fading, turning inward, consolidating gains). If you are a
woman, pay attention to your menstrual cycle, and how it matches
up with the phases of the moon. If you are a man, get in touch
with the cycle of a female friend or lover. Get out under the
moon as much as possible. When She is full, lie in a grassy field
or on a rooftop and LISTEN to her.
--pay attention to the natural world: the seasons,
the insects, everything around you. If you can, go out hiking
camping as much as possible--alone, or with someone else who can
be silent and observant. Even in the city, even in a very
restricted urbanized environment, you can see things of nature all
around you. Try to walk to work, if possible. Go out in
back yard and sit on the grass and look at the world close up.
When inside, observe your pets and your fellow human beings.
are all flesh: we have smells, we have appetites. When you have
sex, try to forget the cultural context (lace underwear, etc.) and
focus instead on the body, the pleasures of the body. When you
play music, let your body dance.
What to read:
--for the rational side of you --> Margot Adler's
Down the Moon_ (a good overview of many pagan systems)
--for the spiritual side --> Starhawk's _Spiral
But reading is less important than observing.
You will be
tempted to try to become a witch by reading, because those of us
w/ big brains and big educations always operate that way. Try
keep a balance between hours spent reading, and hours spent
walking in the woods.
--Joseph Campbell's PBS series on mythology is now
on video. He's a good storyteller and has a wonderful philosophy
of how to incorporate myth into your life.
--anything can be a tool for working magic and gaining
understanding (a leaf, a stone, a pen, a plastic dinosaur)--it's
all in what you invest it with
--be slow to acquire toys (blades, wands, etc.)--it's
if they find you, then your finding them
--more important than a lot of gidgets, is setting
special place in your home as an altar. Start with candles and
incense, and invent simple rituals: lighting a candle while you
read, burning incense while you meditate.
--because it's nonverbal in form, the Tarot is actually
better source for learning about the Craft, than any book. Seek
out one of the less Christianized decks--I personally like the
Barbara Walker and the Motherpeace.
--the first formal "magic" you should learn, is
how to set
aside sacred space. Pick a place in your home or your yard where
you will practice this, and practice often, even if at first it
makes you feel self-conscious.
I realize that a lot of this sounds terribly vague.
I used to
get frustrated when I read books about the Craft, and they didn't
have, like, RECIPES to perform. The hard part of it is, that
learn more from the Goddess, than you do from any human being.
But that doesn't mean you can't do some simple spells, right from
the very beginning: both Adler's and Starhawk's books have some
straightforward descriptions of working magic.
Don't get hung up on issues of reality, or the unknown,
verifiable, or whatever. Just DO. It's far more important
things, than it is to READ about them.