Forget pointy hats, brooms and cheesy spells: there's a lot of misinformation about witches out there. A complex and personal practice, witchcraft is a popular method of magic that involves a deep knowledge of the natural world, the spiritual world and the psychological self. If you have a connection to these worlds and are dissatisfied with traditional beliefs, learning more about what it takes to be a witch may be good for you. It is a practice and a journey for the rest of your life.
Method 1 of 3: Learning About Witchcraft
Step 1. Learn the different magical traditions
There is no main school of sorcery, witchcraft or magic, meaning novices and common people often find it difficult to figure out what is real and what is fake. Becoming a witch is a personal journey that involves research, commitment and study. Different schools of thought and traditions are more appropriate or interesting depending on what you are looking for. Some common styles of sorcery include:
- Wicca and "green" witchcraft are popular in the United States, often based on studies of Gaia, natural magic and meditation. The early Wiccans were followers of Gerald Gardner, a 20th century British magical scholar whose ideas and works became popular in the 1950s and 1960s. If you are interested in using crystals, herbs, rituals and essential oils, they may be good for you.
- Neopaganism, Druidism and other ancient witches are interested in history and tradition, practicing according to the seasons of the year and with specific rituals. If you want to go back to the "traditional" font of witchcraft, these styles might be good for that.
- Regional and esoteric witchcraft such as Santeria, Stregheria, Fari, Pharmakos and other cultural witchcraft are also common, depending on where you live and the traditions of your culture. If you have a strong connection to where you live, research local practices.
Step 2. Read a lot about the different stories and traditions
One thing the novice witch will quickly learn is that each adept practices differently. There is no "bible" of witchcraft, nor an essential guide to the principles or rules for witches. Anything that claims to be such is false. Your practice will be your own practice and no one else's; therefore, it is important to follow any advice from an "expert" carefully. It is possible to read some of the classics, but everything should lead to your own personal understanding of the arts and your own practice. Some classic authors and readings include:
- Aleister Crowley.
- The Hidden, by Colin Wilson.
- Malleus Mallifiqueum, an ancient text on witchcraft.
- Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft.
- Witchcraft and Demonology, by Montague Summers.
- Look for Wiccan writings by Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente, and Scott Cunningham.
- Nigel Jackson, Nigel Pennick, Carlo Ginzburg, Robin Artisson, Gemma Gary, and Andrew Chumbley have written extensively on traditional witchcraft.
Step 3. Develop personal goals for your practice
It never hurts to remember: being a witch is a personal journey. There is no one way to go. That's why it's important to learn everything you can, absorb what you can, and set your own goals and path. It can be helpful to keep a diary, a record of what you hope to explore and discover. A few questions can get you started, but it's up to you to find the answers.
- What do you want from witchcraft?
- What types of spells and incantations do you expect to perform?
- What do you hope to learn as a witch?
- How do you expect witchcraft to improve or change your life?
Step 4. Beware of scams
Be wary of tutorials and paid schemes. The development of the practice of witchcraft is not something that can be taught in 25 simple steps for a few bucks on any other website. Witchcraft is not about following a list of rules or going from A to B to C in the correct order. It is a personal journey of discovery and deep spiritual work. Commit to long-term practice and learn as much as you can about magic.
The meaning of "being a witch" and "practicing witchcraft" will change drastically when you talk to different magicians. Do not take things so seriously. If other witches don't want to help with learning or disagree with a particular practice or reading in which you see power, talk to other witches. Find a group of straight-thinking professionals and ignore the dissenters
Method 2 of 3: Casting and Using Spells
Step 1. Get the tools you need for your practice
To start casting spells and practicing witchcraft, it's good to get the basic tools. No, brooms and pointy hats are not necessary. Each witch needs different tools to perform their particular spells, but the principles are more or less universal.
- Choose a wand. Wands are often chosen for the personal connection to the witch. It's a simple matter of finding and carrying a branch, but it's also much more than that. Take plenty of time to wander the woods until you find a short stick that works for you, with which you feel a connection. You will know when to find her.
- Mortar and pestles are important objects for spells. Used to blend herbs and other ingredients into a heady potion, the mortar and pestle are available at any home improvement store and in most kitchens.
- Herbs. Witch hazel, mugwort, sage, lavender and several other herbs are commonly used in witchcraft. Scott Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs is an essential guide for the beginning witch. It is possible to learn the powers and uses of different common herbs, as well as how to use them.
- Mineral alcohol and salt. Used in cleaning and to keep your spells safe, mineral spirits and salts are common barriers against the spirit world. You can keep yourself safe by loading your tools with natural mineral spirits and soaking yourself in salt.
Step 2. Load your magic tools
Wands, crystals, and other implements involved in heavy psychic enchantments need to be carefully cleaned before and after spells. A good witch tunes into the tools and keeps them charged and free of negative psychic energy. Use the traditions and techniques of your practice to carry and clean your tools.
Different traditions show different techniques for doing this, but in general, many witches use lunar energy to carry or clean wands, letting the stone absorb the moon's energy at night, exposed to moonlight. Using mineral spirits is also a common practice to purify and clear all bad psychic energy from the wand
Step 3. Clean the area
Spells and circles don't need to be done in the middle of a dark forest at midnight; magic rituals can be performed just as effectively in the comfort of your own room. Choose a safe space where you are comfortable and undisturbed. Choose a place where there are no interruptions during the entire ritual.
- Meditate for a few minutes, according to your practice. Offer a prayer of protection, asking that evil spirits and negative energy stay away, and invite positivity and light into your circle. Meditate on the task ahead.
- Light candles and prepare other objects needed for the ritual you will perform. If there are others to perform the ritual with you, gather together, hold hands, and complete the cleansing prayers together. Come together as one.
Step 4. Cast the circle
Different traditions use different objects and methods to cast a circle, but it doesn't matter if you want to use candles, stones, chalk lines or branches to create the spell circle; what matters is the intention. The circle is a physical or psychic barrier in your safe space that will allow you to channel the deities, powers and energies needed to do your work.
In many traditions, the circle must contain candles at each of the four cardinal points – North, South, East and West. It's also good to keep a representative of each element in the circle with you. A handful of earth, a glass of water, a lighted candle and other elements must be present
Step 5. Cast the spell
Welcome the elements and deities you are invoking and indicate the purpose of the ritual out loud. Specific invocations or prayers must be recited, and spells must be cast at this time. There is a comprehensive spell database that can be found here.
Increase and release the energy you are invoking. The purpose of a spell is to make the circle a channel through which you get in touch with the invisible world of energies and spirits. When you connect with these energies, you will have to contact them and safely separate from them
Step 6. Complete the ritual safely
Thank the gods for the grace of your presence. Thank the elements for helping you with the spell. Close or open the circle, depending on your tradition.
Wiccans practice the so-called Law of Three: "Attention to the Rule of Three, Everything You Command Will Return to You". The law of three says that whatever you do comes back to you three times. So please be wise and think about your actions and how they affect others
Method 3 of 3: Developing Your Practice
Step 1. Find a guide
As it may be too much at first, help is important for witches starting to explore the world of witchcraft. Find other more experienced witches to guide you through the dark arts, recommend readings, and show you a few things about spells.
Never lie about your experience in witchcraft. If you don't know the difference between a wand and a cauldron, don't call yourself an experienced witch. You will be less respected. It's better to be honest about your knowledge and be willing to learn
Step 2. Have your own Book of Shadows
When you start practicing witchcraft, it's good to have your own book of shadows. It doesn't need to be bound in antique leather and stained with goat blood – just get a lined notebook. Put it together like a diary, with images you find powerful, touching, or full of wisdom. Use the book to record spells, observations and incantations you find from readings and research.
Step 3. Create an altar
The altar doesn't need to be elaborate or have the skull of a 12th century mystic (though that's ingenious). The altar is simply a place where you will practice. He should have personal totems and inspirational objects, essential things for his practice. It can be crystals, stones, herbs, images and any other objects that are important to you. Decorate your altar with important objects.
- If you're a green witch or Wicca, it can be nice to put laurels, dead flowers, dried herbs and other natural things on the altar. Find stones that touch you, strange shells or other objects of power and beauty.
- If you are a druid or other type of traditional witch, have several photos of your family and ancestors on the altar. If you don't have any photos, use antique objects – photos of soldiers in the war or old pocket watches, things that remind you of the past and help you connect with it.
Step 4. Practice rhythmically with the stations
Witches need to be in tune with the changing seasons and transitions from one phase to another. Tune in to the phases of the moon and practice spells according to the lunar shifts, the equinox and other essential signifiers of the shifting time. Have an astrological calendar and learn about mutable planets. Pay attention to the changing seasons and your emotional, physical and psychic reactions.
Step 5. Collect magic objects
As your Book of Shadows grows and becomes filled with spells, it's a good idea to enlarge your cabinets and altar. Collect herbs and essential oils to use in spells and grow your collection of powerful herbs and oils. Use them and learn their distinct uses. Collect gems and crystals and meditate with them to find which ones you connect with and can use in your practices.
Herbs and stones are available for purchase, but it's good to learn more about foraging and collecting fresh herbs so you can dry them yourself. Connecting your practice to the ground is an excellent idea. Find a local vegetable guide and go out often to find helpful magical herbs. Visit streams to find gems
- If you are interested in becoming a witch or Wicca, talk to one in person before making any decisions. Look at Witchvox.com. It's like Facebook for pagans. It is also very good for finding local clans if you wish to join one.
- Follow your intuition. If you feel good, get into it; if it doesn't, stay out. Intuition is your most powerful tool.
- Remember that Wicca and Witchcraft are not the same thing. You'll come across information indicating that it is, but think of it this way: Wicca is a religion, witchcraft is a skill. Witchcraft can be used in many different religions and appears in many different contexts, whereas Wicca generally doesn't.
- Don't be fooled by new age scams. Prominent writers with dozens of books may seem trustworthy, but they often don't check the facts and their books can be littered with misinformation. Why? Certain things sell more than others. Do your homework with ANY book you read.