Hello, basically I have known about and been very interested in paganism since I was about 10 years old. I’m just confused as to which path to follow seeing as there seem to be so many! I think I will most likely be a solitary witch and am definitely interested in practicing magik, following the moon, the seasons, following the wiccan rede, healing, all sorts really. I just really need advise on getting stuck in, I mean there’s so much to learn where do you start?! I wish it were easier to find someone to guide me on my path.
It can definitely be confusing when one is first starting out, especially if one is going a more eclectic route, rather than looking to study within a specific tradition. In many ways being eclectic is actually the more difficult path, as you end up having to study a wide variety of cultures and traditions in an in-depth manner, rather than just focusing on one. For some things to consider when forming your eclectic practice, I would suggest reading Eclecticism Within NeoPaganism.
I’m hitting on the points that you brought up, in order, and suggesting resources when necessary – for a lot of it, it may come down to having to study individual components separately, and then finding your own way of putting it all together in a way that works for you. We once tried to define the word witchcraft and found it difficult at best to come up with anything that “everyone” agreed on. So it also may be up to you to define exactly what practices are covered by the term “solitary witch” as well. Once you get to that point, then you may find it a bit easier to know where to start looking for the information that you need.
Also keep in mind that there really isn’t any reason to spell the word “magic” in any special way. Within Thelema, it is spelled “magick”, however that is due to something that is rather specific to that path, having to do with numerology, and isn’t something that is necessary if one is on a different path. A common reason that I hear from others for doing so is to differentiate between “stage” magic and witchcraft, or other spell work. However the truth is that if you are talking (or in this case corresponding via the written word) with others who are like minded, then they will understand what you are referring to, without you having to resort to any convoluted spelling changes.
You didn’t state specifically within your question, if you were interested in any particular Gods or Goddesses, or any particular cultural practices, so it’s a bit harder to point you in a specific direction. However witchcraft in and of itself can be religious/spiritual or a non-religious practice that can be done on its own, or added to almost any other religion. For Witchcraft specific books, I would also suggest starting with Doreen Valiente’s “ABC of Witchcraft” or her “Natural Magic”. I would also suggest reading “A Grimoire of Shadows” by Ed Fitch.
If you are looking to a more Wicca-inspired path, or a ready made NeoPagan path, then Scott Cunningham’s “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” and “Living Wicca: A Further Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” cover a good working solitary tradition. However it is very important to note that despite the word Wicca being used not only in the title of both works, and extensively throughout the text – practicing what is in the books does not actually make one Wiccan (for more on traditional Wicca, please read this). While Cunningham did receive initiation into a lineaged Wiccan tradition, he left soon after to form his own path (the Standing Stones tradition), which does not contain the oath-bound information that is the core of Wicca. These two books cover the information that his tradition is based on.
If Wicca-based isn’t your style, then I would suggest reading “Evolutionary Witchcraft“, by T. Thorn Coyle which is based more on Feri Trad Witchcraft – as founded by Victor and Cora Anderson.
For additional information on seasonal celebrations I would suggest the following resources… “A NeoPagan Guide To Activities for the Sabbats” and “The Witches’ Sabbats”. If you can get a copy of the book, then “Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain” by Ronald Hutton is a good place to start as well. As to moon phases there are any number of apps or widgets you can pick up online. There used to be a really awesome one that we all swore by, however it no longer exists, so at this point really any one will do.
As to the “Wiccan Rede” I would direct you to one of our recent posts on the subject. As mentioned there, it is often very misunderstood, so it would be a good idea to take some time to understand exactly what it is (advice vs. strict law), and exactly what you are looking to accomplish by incorporating it into your practice.
As to “healing”, you’ll need to be a lot more specific, as there is a huge number of things that fall under that category – herbal, magical, hands-on energy work, etc…? If you can narrow down your area of interest there, let us know, and we’ll be happy to point you in a good direction. Keep in mind that for some things, you may need to find a face-to-face teacher, as they are very difficult to teach online or to learn simply from a book.
I know this all seems like a lot, so please read through what we’ve given you, and if you have any additional questions feel free to reply. We’ll be more than happy to help explain, clarify or offer up some other resources. There are some online forums and such around, however a lot of them are full of misinformation, so admittedly I’m hesitant to suggest any of them directly. Thinking it may be time to have a chat amongst ourselves and come up with a “go-to” list of people who can help with specific subjects. I’ll update this when we’ve had a chance to put something together.