I had an email from a client recently who wanted to investigate witchcraft further. He asked some excellent questions and for some recommendations from me on books that would give him solid information. Here are the questions I answered plus my short reading list (for beginners).
How did you know you were a witch?
I was born a witch. I have witchcraft from both sides of my family and my mother has always been a quiet daughter of Isis (Egyptian witchcraft). I was raised without any religious affiliation and told from a very early age (four, I think) that I was welcome to make my own decision regarding religion but that my parents were not especially enamored with Christianity, specifically Catholicism, which had excommunicated my father for marrying my mother (yes they used to do that in the early sixties!). I was offered information on just about everything (my mother kept the paganism light but she always stressed a connection with nature and animals) and when I was a teenager I decided I wanted to practice an earth-based religion so I joined a coven of witches in the Gardnerian tradition (through a family friend) and I became an initiate.
It took three years (not in a row) to become a High Priestess but I no longer practice Wicca in the religious aspect because I became Buddhist. This actually had an even more positive reflection upon my witchcraft since becoming an eclectic allowed me to practice all the mysteries I had always been attracted to like Faerie, Hoodoo, Voudon, Romany and Sino-Nipponese.
It took me years to accept that I was a witch. It isn’t instant. It takes years of study and discovery. I really never felt my power until I was in my late twenties. Being a witch follows very closely the Triple Aspect of the Goddess – Maiden, Mother and Crone. At least it has for me!
How did you learn to cast spells?
I learnt from the coven’s Book of Shadows. For over 20 years I have kept my own books too. Study, trial and error, friends and mysteries that are handed down in the oral tradition all become part of my Book of Shadows.
Casting spells takes nothing but practice and you definitely need a predilection for it. You must have a natural ability (like with any craft – some people just have a knack for certain things) for spells to work.
You can’t learn spells from books, don’t make that mistake. They can teach you how to craft spells but spells need to come from you and need to be honed and developed over time. Most books on witchcraft have tons of spells in them but until you are crafting your own spells, using your own knowledge and words, they will lack power, imagination, focused will and intention.
What books do you recommend for a beginner?
Many witches would disagree with me regarding Silver’s books, they’d say she practices “fluffy bunny witchcraft”. I disagree. These books are a full-course in Witchcraft 101 that are light on the dogma and give a terrific overview of the craft. Don’t take everything Silver says as gospel but she gives a great foundation.
This book is a compendium of further study into witchcraft and is practical for novices and even advanced students. It’s a huge heavy tome but has everything you need to go through the first degree of witchcraft (avoid books that go through the “year and a day” approach – it is better to get your information culled from other sources unless you have joined a coven).
I don’t recommend a coven however until you’ve done some study first. For instance I never would have put three years into the Gardnerian tradition if I had studied first to find where I really felt comfortable.
I hope these answers give some guidance. Feel free to comment below or visit me at mysticspells.com.