Mentoring and Circle Casting for a New Witch


Hi! so recently I’ve gotten into witchcraft and was interested in starting as an eclectic witch, the problem is, I need a teacher (I’m scared I wont cast a circle right and I would like a teacher to teach me correctly so I don’t screw up). help?

You can always ask questions when you have them, here or via our tumblr page, but unfortunately, we don’t do direct mentoring/teaching. You can also check WitchVox or Pagan Meetup, for groups or individuals in your area who are open to teaching others. In both cases, make sure you ask prospective teachers about their expertise and background to verify that that they are in-fact knowledgeable (as much as you can anyways). It may also be difficult to find anyone, depending on how old you are, as many people will not work directly with those who are under 18, for legal reasons.

In general terms of the “how to” of doing rituals, I would highly recommend The Elements of Ritual by Deborah Lipp. It’s probably going to cover everything you could ever want to know, including “why” some things are done the way they are, which will be helpful in understanding that (among other things), short of not fully closing/opening a circle, there’s not a whole lot you can screw up with casting a circle. Additionally, there are innumerable ways to cast one, so generally, however works best for you is fine. But I can understand too that it’s nice to have someone to talk it all over with as well, which is hard to do when one is solitary.

It’s probably important to note too, that not everyone even uses circles, so it also depends on your own style of witchcraft. I do think, that regardless of circle use, it’s always good to learn proper grounding and shielding techniques, depending on what sort of workings one will be doing. But a full-on circle may not be necessary for many things, again, unless it’s something that works for your practice.

Also worth mentioning, is in being solitary and eclectic, the benefit to that is you can do, more or less, whatever you want to (within reason). The caveat of course, is if you are taking practices or beliefs from other cultures, make sure it is done so with respect and a deep understanding of the religion/culture that one is pulling from. So if you are doing your own thing, you may not have as much to worry about, in terms of screwing things up.

The other part, is that we all make mistakes, it’s an inevitable part of life. The good thing is that we can learn from those mistakes. So when they happen, don’t get too upset over them, simply take them for the learning opportunity they are, and resolve to do better next time. It may also help to keep a notebook when you are just starting (separate from any BOS or grimoire that you might be keeping), with detailed notes on – hey… this went well, or ewww, no… not doing that again. That way you can refer back and know what parts does and doesn’t work for you, hopefully, making the learning process a bit easier.

For additional resources to check out on your new journey, I would suggest reading the following – Solitary Witch – Where Do I Start? And again, if you have any other questions, feel free to ask. 🙂

 

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TIP: Beyond the 101


So, these are meant to go out on Fridays but we sort of slacked off and then forgot about it. So. It’s late. *cough* Seeing as it’s only the third one that’s a bit sad, haha.

This week’s tip is about the point where you’ve read a bunch of “Neo-Paganism 101” books and you’re ready to move on to the next level of information. But when you get to the library or bookstore, you can’t find anything except more entry-level books. The more you read, the more you feel like something is missing; these books are grazing the surface of something but you can’t manage to get any deeper. What happens now, and how do you move beyond this basic information to a deeper level of practice if you don’t have a teacher?

The reason many of these books are so limited is that they’re based on Wicca. Wicca, as you may know, is an initiatory religion; there’s only so much that can be written about it, first because much is secret and second because much is experiential and can’t be accurately taught in words. Books about Wicca will necessarily be limited to a bare outline, and to get the full experience of Wicca, one must seek initiation. Many basic books on Paganism are based very much on this model and will have a lack of depth that may only become apparent once you start reaching out into other areas and realising how much information there is.

When you reach this point, therefore, there are several actions you can take. These aren’t exclusive:

The first is to branch out. Most 101 books on Paganism will be focused on a very narrow subset, usually related to witchcraft in some way or another and with a strong Wicca flavour. They will talk about circle-casting and two deities and eight Sabbats and so on. But of course, there are dozens of Pagan religions, many that have totally different holidays, different ritual forms, and far more than two deities. Some religions will have more introductory books than others, and some won’t have any, and they may not be in the same section as the books you have been reading so far. You may end up going to the myths, the history, the archaeology for your information.

The second is to find a teacher. Some Pagan religions, often religious witchcrafts, can only be properly taught in person, or in a coven, or via ritual. Not everyone is able to, or even wants to, find a teacher, but there are particular Pagan religions where this is a necessity. If this isn’t your thing or it’s not possible at the moment, it will put certain religions out of your reach.

The third is introspection and personal practice. Sometimes depth and understanding come from regular practice, particularly if you start incorporating daily or weekly exercises. Get up to watch the sun rise every day for a week, dig into the lore for prayers you can recite daily or write your own, spend time in meditation, write down all your thoughts and ideas.

The fourth is community. Discussing things with people – even if they are of a different Pagan religion to yourself, or you disagree on major issues – can give you new ideas and unlock new understandings. People can recommend websites, books, exercises, meditations; introduce you to groups and teachers; help you with difficulties you’ve been having. If there are no Pagans nearby, or you happen to dislike all the Pagans in your area, the internet is a great help.

Keep searching! There’s always more to be learned.