Like learning any new skill or making lifestyle changes, getting into witchcraft can be daunting. It’s hard to know where to start, or even how to go from research to practice. It can get especially confusing when you see so many other witches who have beautiful tools and altars, and seem to be living and breathing their craft.
I was recently referred by a friend to help answer some questions for someone wanting to get into magic, and while talking to her I realized that many newbie witches have a lot of similar questions. I had these same questions when I was starting out too! So, here are a few tips I’ve learned during my practice that helped me get started and kept me in the right frame of mind about my practice as it grows.
1. Read Everything!
It goes without saying, but when you’re learning witchcraft, just like learning anything, you absolutely need to read and read some more. Never stop reading! Read widely and deeply. There’s so much information out there about witchcraft, paganism, and different traditions that reading about the subjects that interest you should be deeply ingrained into every witches practice.
That said, I know it can get very overwhelming to even know where to start or what to read next. If you’re just starting out, the first place to go should be your local library. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with a larger library, there’s a great chance that you’ll find a good selection of beginner books. Even if your local library doesn’t have these books, ask a librarian! They can usually have books shipped from other libraries, or help you find some resources to get you started.
My local library has a decent collection of witchcraft, paganism, and metaphysical books, so I was able to find a lot of beginner reading about magic in general, divination and tarot, as well as crystals, kitchen magic, and several other niches within the craft. In particular, my library has a lot of Llewellyn and Scott Cunningham books which, despite their obvious Wiccan influence, are still great resources when starting out.
A note on the Wiccan influence in popular witchcraft press… If you’re interested in getting into Wicca and becoming Wiccan yourself, that’s great and you should absolutely pursue that! However, a lot of newbie witches get confused about the difference between Wicca and witchcraft, and the fact that most beginner books are generally based on Wiccan ideals can only reinforce that confusion. Wicca is a religion that overlaps in many ways with other witchcraft practices, whereas witchcraft is a practice and lifestyle that can incorporation religion if you want but absolutely doesn’t need to. When you’re just starting out and reading a lot of beginner books, it can help to understand the basic tenants of Wicca so you can better identify where it’s influence is getting muddled into popular craft. Most importantly, take everything you read with a grain of salt. Everyone’s practice is different, so anything you read can help you expand your understanding, but you don’t need to accept every word as the end all be all of witchcraft.
2. Stay Open-Minded
While you’re learning, you will come across many concepts that might challenge you or your beliefs. One thing I cannot stress enough is to stay open-minded. That absolutely does not mean you need to do things that make you uncomfortable or that simply don’t interest you, but you shouldn’t discredit different practices just because you don’t personally agree or connect with them.
For a long time, I wouldn’t even bother looking into newer forms of magic, like chaos magic, just because I wanted to stick to “authentic” witchcraft. But honestly… What does authentic mean? Most of the traditions out there are comparably young or take from several different ideas and traditions. Each practice and tradition is not inherently better than another, so it’s really important to keep your mind open to the validity of different ideas. Besides, you never know if that practice you’ve been shunning actually resonates with you. It’s better to learn new ideas and continually allow your craft to grow and evolve than to stay in the same rut of tradition and belief that you’ve always been in.
3. Focus, Intention & Visualization
I love spending hours on Instagram and YouTube seeing other witches’ collections and altars. So many of them have apartments covered in crystals, candles, and plants, and their altars are set up so elegantly and beautifully. It’s great inspiration, but it also makes me quite envious. I think a lot of us get wrapped up in the idea that we need all of these things to really perform magic, and it can lead to either spending a whole lot of money or not doing anything until we’ve collected the ideal witchy setup.
One of the first questions I hear from newbie witches is, “What tools do I need to get started?” and I always have the same answer. Nothing! All you need to do magic is focus, intention, and visualization. You can do any spell by simply focusing your mind on your desired outcome, saying a few words of intention, and visualizing the results you want.
Yes, all of the candles, crystals, and fancy tools are very useful to gather the right energies and help you get into the right state of mind for a spell, but you 100% do not need them to get started. If you want to have tools, collect them slowly over time as you learn and build your craft. This brings me to my next point…
4. Keep It Simple
Even when you are getting all of your tools and props, you by no means need to spend a lot of money on them. Keep. It. Simple. Find some everyday things you use around your house or get cheep, mundane items and start using them for your witchy doings! Instead of getting a fancy offering dish, just use one of your bowls or a small plate. Instead of that expensive leather journal with handmade paper, just use a composition notebook from the dollar store (it’ll be easier to write in too, trust me). Honestly, you can get so many magical tools from the dollar store: candles, incense, candleholders, jars, dried herbs… Just go look around and get creative with what you can use!
5. Use Your Talents
Your practice is what you make it, so it always helps to use your talents. If you like to write poetry, write some spell chants. If you enjoy art, make sigils or paint some representations of your deities. Same thing with sculpting! You can make statue figurines, or create your own offering bowl, wand, and athame. The possibilities are literally endless!
Personally, I love to draw, so I’ll create a lot of sigils for spells and place them wherever I can. I also really enjoy cooking, so I mix a little herbal correspondence in with my cooking to give my meals a little magic kick. Sometimes I’ll even use number and color correspondences to make knit or crochet projects imbued with different energies or intentions.
Even if you’re not crafty, you can still incorporate your interests and talents into your craft. Start by making a list of your hobbies and things you enjoy, then explore the different possibilities of how you can make it witchy. Doing this will not only help you stay interested in your craft, but it will also help intensify your magic and bring more energy into it.
6. Find Other Witches
Humans are social creatures, so we need to be able to interact and form bonds with others. This is still true for witches, even if you’re a solitary practitioner! We can sometimes feel like our craft needs to stay separate from the rest of our lives, but honestly, when you get into witchcraft it becomes a part of your life. It’s important to be able to express your interests, ideas, and things you’ve been learning to grow as a person and a witch.
This is really where finding other witches can help. Having someone who shares this interest with you and who can help you keep expanding your understanding of the craft is invaluable. You can go online to find different groups who follow a tradition you’re interested in, join a witch study group, or start a group in your own community! There are even Facebook groups for local gatherings of witches, and plenty of other online resources for finding gatherings near you. Just make sure you’re always careful if you’re meeting someone from the internet in person.
This doesn’t mean you need to join a coven or start practicing with other witches. Stay solitary in your practice if you want to, but still join the greater witch community. Interact, discuss ideas, learn and grow with other witches. It can really help keep you interested and motivated in your craft, but most importantly, it’s a reminder that you’re not alone.
7. Never Stop Learning
Finally, no matter how long you’ve been practicing, you should never stop learning. There’s so much information out there about different traditions, practices, and magic niches, and that wealth of information is only getting bigger. Keep learning, keep expanding your understanding, and keep growing! It will help you broaden your knowledge of witchcraft, and maybe one day you can be a resource for other new witches. As we get older we never stop learning about the world around us, so we should never expect to know everything there is to know about witchcraft. Enjoy the journey of learning what you can and growing in your personal craft.