5 Common Mistakes Made by Beginning Witches
Beginning Witchcraft can be a bit confusing, especially when you don’t have a mentor or any kind of guidance. It’s no surprise—if the Craft were the quick and easy way to deliver your heart’s desires to you, everyone would be using it. There is a reason why so many people say, “I tried Witchcraft, it doesn’t work!” This is because dabbling gets you nowhere. It’s a little like someone who has never played a musical instrument before coming into your house, banging on your piano for 30 minutes and proclaiming pianos don’t work because it didn’t play a song. The problem is not the instrument; the problem is you have to learn how to play it.
When you first begin learning, there are some common pitfalls you may want to avoid.
I want to freeze time and shoot fireballs !
There’s no faster way to bring yourself down that unrealistic expectations. Witchcraft won’t make your brown eyes blue, it’s not going to make you taller or drop 100 pounds by next month. It won’t deliver your favorite celebrity to your door, or poof things into existence for you. It’s not going to solve all your problems, fulfill your dreams for you and make life easy and perfect. Forget what you saw in fiction—you are not going to be like Bewitched, or Harry Potter, or the Charmed Ones. It just doesn’t work that way.
This is why people get disappointed or renounce Witchcraft sometimes—just because you can’t turn your ex into a toad doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the Craft; the problem is having unrealistic expectations of what the Craft is about. Someone skilled in the Craft can accomplish great things, but on a natural level, not on par with tall tales and Hollywood special effects.
Gimmie the ‘real’ spells!
Some beginners think that to start practicing Witchcraft means finding spells that ‘really work’. They want the fast and easy spells for beginners so they can get started. What they think they need to begin their career in the Craft is a ‘real spell book, with real spells.’
The mistake here is in thinking that spells will do anything for you without knowledge and skill behind what you’re doing. Spells are methods; they’re great, they’re like recipes. But before you can start using recipes—as any cook will tell you—you have to learn some basic cooking techniques. If a recipe tells you to braise the vegetables, it’s useless to you if you don’t know what braising is. If it tells you to caramelize the onions, you need to know how to achieve that, and what they should look like, before you can produce them.
Going for spells first is jumping the gun. The spells do not have power— the Witch is the one with the power; and knowledge is a major component of that power.
Did Your Spell Fail?
I don’t really need to meditate, do I?
Maybe you don’t. There are people who naturally are very attuned, extremely sensitive, who are instinctually able to alter their state of consciousness at will and maintain extensive focus. But the sad fact is, most of us – particularly most beginners – would not qualify.
If you think of meditation as sitting there doing nothing, I can totally see how you would feel it’s a waste of time and would not want to do it. However, the primary tool of Witchcraft is the mind, and training the mind is an essential part of learning the Craft. Mental training is something that’s not just a hurtle to get over, but will continue on for your lifetime, or for as long as you practice magical arts. Even those who resisted it in the beginning will, as their practice continues, realize the value of it and begin dedicating more time to it later (if they don't give up at all, that is). It's part of the package-- might as well get used to it.
But I already read a book on The Craft, I don't need another.
Have you ever seen books that claim to be the only book on Witchcraft you’ll ever need? If so, put it back on the shelf. Good books on Witchcraft, good mentors, good sources will encourage you to read and read and then read some more. And you don’t just read things once, maybe twice—the really good, really tough reads should be read several times. Take notes, make lists and really study.
Hey, it’s not known as “the Craft of the Wise” for nothing. Wisdom doesn’t grow on trees.
I'm not a regular fan of Gavin and Yvonne Frost. Some of their ideas about Wicca, and some highly controversial ideas about sex, have garnered them a lot of criticism, and rightfully so. I don't normally defend them in that, or recommend their Witch School at all.
That said, I have to give credit where credit is due. This book educational, insightful and understandable. I would offer caveats: this is not the typical 'white-washed' Wiccan-style stuff you'll find in the Llewellyn 101 books. People fed up with the Watered-Down approach to Witchcraft will probably appreciate this book, as will students of The Craft seeking true understanding.
But the book says to do it this way...
While I say ‘yay’ to reading books, I say ‘nay’ to taking them as scripture. Books are guides, they are not holy writ. Witchcraft is one of those things (like writing, or like cooking), that can be both an art and a science. It’s both creative and technical. It utilizes both the left and the right brain functions.
Therefore, learn from the book, but then fly with it. While books and study will give you a vast base of knowledge to draw on, wisdom is only gained through putting things to practice. You really will hone your skills by doing them—and tweaking them to suit you individually. Don’t let a book hold you back like a ball and chain—act with your own instincts, just do it in an informed and deliberate way.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. In fact, you can find even more on the topic in my other article: Witchcraft for Beginners: 7 More Mistakes Made by Beginning Witches. Pointing out mistakes is not meant to put anyone down—we all make mistakes when we start out (and even when we've been at it for a while!). But knowing what pitfalls to watch out for by being warned by those who have traveled before you can really help you steer clear of them, or recover from them quickly.