How to Be a Witch: Resources to Get You Started on the Witchcraft Path
Is there something about witchcraft that calls to you? That sets your senses tingling? Do you feel a deep yearning to be in sync with nature and the cycles of the Earth and the Moon? Do you think there is something missing in the way we live today? Perhaps becoming a witch will provide the answers and make your life more real, more grounded, and—of course—more magical.
Here you’ll find links to some other resources to help you get started.
Signs and Characteristics of a Potential Witch
First of all, how do you know if you are the right material. Have you got the traits and attributes to make a first class witch? While I believe anyone can be one, I also think that the person needs to have a certain affinity with nature and an open mind. You have to be able to discard old beliefs as you learn more and more. You have to allow that people, animals, objects, and situations aren’t always good or bad, black or white, positive or negative. There are shades and nuances in everything. Don’t be the kind of person that closes his or her eyes to the many versions of truth. Read Are You a Witch? Telltale Signs and Characteristics to Look For.
Once you’ve decided that maybe, possibly, witchcraft is for you, it’s time to discover some basics. This next article, Could you be a Witch? Have You Got What it Takes? gets into the nitty-gritty of being a witch and working with energy. The need for being responsible for your actions, the kind of magic that harms none, and even an example of a successful, real-life spell.
What Kind of Witch Do You Want to Be?
Do you want to work in a group with like-minded people? Or would you prefer the solitary, more secretive path? Do you want to follow a well-established and well-documented tradition? Or do you want to be free to choose as you go along? Do you want your witch path to be one of faith and worship, or do you want to keep your magic free from religion? Maybe you want to learn all you can about everything connected with witchcraft; divination, crystals, herbs and gardening, healing, counseling, working with animals, and all those other fascinating topics? The possibilities are endless. In this article, I explore and outline sixty different witchcraft traditions… but know there are many more out there: What Kind of Witch Are You? 60 Witchcraft Traditions.
Next Steps on the Path
You want to know how to start, how to get going on this new journey, don’t you? What actions to take, what the practical steps are. Don’t be too impatient; the way is winding and convoluted. There are interesting side-roads, attractive diversions, and all manner of tempting goodies (says she who owns over 50 tarot decks).
For the time being, it will all seem confusing and perhaps overwhelming, so for now, do nothing. Then begin slowly; you have all the time in the world. Read as much as you can, absorb the idea of being in sync with nature and then proceed as you wish.
In this article, I Think I'm a Witch—What Are the Next Steps? I give some suggestions about how to proceed and what research to do. I’ve also laid out a basic method of casting a circle, which you can practice before you do anything more complicated. The main idea to take away is that, if you are unsure, you don’t have to do anything.
What If I’m Too Young to Be a Witch?
It’s true that I advise young people to avoid witchcraft while still teenagers. There are some kinds of harmless magic you can try, but too often, their ‘dabblings’ involve the manipulation of other people. And that is dangerous. While I urge caution when working with energy, it’s quite a good idea to keep reading and researching and introducing magickal practices very slowly and in a way that won’t cause harm to you or anyone else.
I have written two articles to help younger people. The first is aimed at younger teens and pre-teens: Can a Young Teen Be a Witch? I spell out the hazards and the reasons why it’s a good idea to wait awhile. On the positive side, I have some suggestions about what young people can do to expand their witchcraft knowledge. I also include a simple self-dedication to study witchcraft for a year and a day.
The second article, Teen Witch: How to Learn Witchcraft, is aimed at older teens and is meant to encourage you to explore the reasons why you want to become a witch. To make you really think about what witchcraft means, rather than thinking it is based on some TV show or movie.
I believe wholeheartedly, probably because I am a parent, that while you are living at home, you should always respect your parents’ wishes. They may well let you get on with your witchcraft studies. Indeed some parents may be witches or pagans themselves. Yet most will definitely look askance if you stride in and announce that you are now a witch. So, do as they wish, and if that means putting your witchy ambitions on the back burner for a while, then so be it.
However, and you knew there would be a ‘however’, didn’t you? However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up on witchcraft altogether. There are many ways to quietly incorporate it into your daily life without anyone noticing. Have a look at 50 Ways to Be a Witch Every Day. That one's not just for teens, either.
One aspect of becoming a witch is often overlooked, and that is how it empowers people. Once you realize that you are in control of your life, your choices, and your perspective you become empowered. And, even more so when you learn to manipulate energy to your advantage. I wrote an article specifically aimed at girls and women: Witchcraft Empowers Women.
Witchcraft Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated or Expensive
One of the aspects of witchcraft that I dislike is how commercial it has become. Now I’m not against anyone collecting crystals, or buying flowing, hand-stitched-by-goblins robes, hand-crafted wands, athames forged in the breath of dragons, and so forth, but new witches should know that witchcraft isn’t really about all those things. Real witchcraft is simple; it requires few tools. And those that you feel are indispensable are easily made.
Spells and Rituals
There are thousand upon thousands of websites and books with a infinite number of spells and charms. Some tried and tested, some made up. Some are downright harmful. I am of the firm opinion that the best spells are those you create yourself. In my article, I offer example and basic structures and I encourage you to play with them, change them, improve them and make them your own.
The basic structure of most spells is:
- Cast a circle
- Raise the emotion/energy
- Perform the ritual/speak the incantation
- Close the circle.
To that I would recommend that you do some groundwork beforehand. A basic review of whether it is necessary to work the spell, what damage could come from it. A sort of magickal risk assessment, if you like.
Casting Spells: How to begin spell work.
Written Spells: These are my favorite kind of spells. Quick, simple and effective.
Daily Spells: are short and sweet (no need for circle casting). Useful for adding that little extra magick to your days.
Combining Switchwords with spells is a really good idea. It makes use of these energetically powerful words to give that bit of oomph to your magickal work.
Witchcraft: Sympathetic Magic and Working With Poppets How to use surrogates in spell work. Using a poppet can help focus your intent. No pin sticking here!
I’m Pretty Sure That Spells Don’t Work
And I’m pretty sure that they do. If you have tried casting spells with no success, then perhaps you need to tweak your methods slightly? I find that the spells which have 'weak' or no results can be traced back to a lack of invested emotion on my part. There’s a full overview of why spells don’t work and how you can be more successful in your magickal activity: Witchcraft: My Spell Didn't Work - What Went Wrong?
The trick (excuse the pun) to successful spell casting is quite hard to define. It’s about confidence and knowing that the universe will deliver. There’s a state of mind you have to attain; a calm acceptance that the universe knows better than you, and that all will work out in the best possible way. However, during the ritual itself, it's really important to 'feel your way through'. The stronger the emotion that you feel, the more effective the spell. Have a look at How Magic Works in Witchcraft.
And for younger readers, the ones who may be in thrall to the Hollywood version of witchcraft, I have a special page that goes into more detail about how to achieve positive outcomes, Young Witch: What You Need to Know About Casting Spells. You’ll notice that I do repeat myself from article to article - that’s because all magickal workings are based on the same principles. Hopefully, you will find a small nugget of gold in each one.
Do your spells work?
Undo a Spell
Occasionally spells work too well and we need to undo them or neutralize them. Or, in some cases, we find that the binding spell we cast upon someone is no longer necessary. Or the love spell we thought was a good idea two years ago is now causing a lot of bother.
It's always a good idea to be able to undo a spell that no longer serves its original purpose. You have to know though, an 'undo' doesn't always work. The energy has been set in motion and it's impossible to stop it. Therefore you may have to enact a counter spell. Think of it as gently guiding the energy in another direction.
Some suggestions: How to Undo a Spell.
The Underlying Principles of Witchcraft
To understand how and why witchcraft works, it’s necessary to learn how witches make use of the universal laws. I have been asked if casting spells is anything different to the New Age ‘manifestation’ phenomenon… you know, Law of Attraction and all that. Well, the answer is no. It all works on the same principle. However, witchcraft, I feel, is far more powerful than positive thinking. You can take that and add rocket fuel to it with a simple ritual. Plus, raising your emotion is far easier to do when you have a structure and a focused reason for doing it.
So, although, there is disagreement about how many universal laws there are, the fundamentals are common. If you want to explore further, read The Kybalion, which lays out seven universal laws. It might be a difficult read to begin with, but once you get used to the language, you’ll be glad you persevered. There are lots of ‘wow’ moments there. And, when you begin to ‘get it’, your witchcraft practice will take on new meaning.
One of those laws is key when working magick. It’s the Law of Attraction, like attracts like. Discover how this law affects the craft: Witchcraft and the Law of Attraction.
Common Myths Surrounding Witches and Witchcraft
Where to begin? The trouble is that a lot of people get their ideas about witches from fairy tales and Netflix. I’ve even had people ask me if witches are real at all. Modern witchcraft doesn’t bear a great deal of resemblance to the old view of witches flinging curses around like confetti over cattle. Modern witchcraft is empowering, sometimes political. It’s gentle, yet it can be angry. It’s a religious path, but it isn’t. It can be a complete way of life, or it can be something to fall back on occasionally. There are some ideas, though, that are complete falsehoods and misconceptions; 7 Myths About Witchcraft.
Another common mistake is to confuse psychic abilities with witchcraft. They are not the same thing at all. Of course a psychic can be a witch and a witch can be psychic, but just because someone has such a gift, it doesn’t mean they are a witch. Witches do witchcraft. Check out the difference; I See Things in Dreams that Come True--Am I a Witch?
Then there’s the old chestnut that witches worship the Devil. For a start, the Devil as an entity, is a Christian construct, meant to terrify the poor uneducated population into submission to the church. The real devil is within us and is rooted in poor mental health, addiction, manipulation, unawareness and lack of self-empowerment. But going back to our old friend, the pretend Christian Devil, this article attempts to show that modern witches aren’t evil devil-worshipers. Are Witches Evil?
Following on from there is the topic of familiars and witch marks. I get lots of questions regarding these two things. Firstly, there are no such things as familiars. Again it’s a made-up concept by those pesky witch-hunters to give themselves another reason to torture people. However, if it makes you happy to call your pet a familiar, then feel free. Me? I’ve got nine of them.
And when it comes to witch marks - well, you have to know that just about every person on the planet can find a freckle, mole, scar or birthmark on their body. Witches aren't 'marked' by some supernatural force. I promise.
Can I Use Witchcraft to Get Unwanted People Out of My Life?
One of the most effective uses of witchcraft is to put distance between yourself and another person. Maybe someone is bullying you or targeting you in some way? A disgruntled coworker thinks it’s acceptable to use you as her personal whipping boy? An ex can’t bear to see you living a happy life, so bombards you with texts? A quick spell can often neutralize their bad behavior.
Having said that, you have to be careful how you use such magick. Be very careful that you never, ever use it in extreme fear or anger. This is because that high level of emotion can make your spell very powerful indeed. And that can lead to unwanted repercussions.
There are two kinds of spells that are useful in this context: binding and banishing. A binding spell restricts the person’s behavior according a specific instruction spoken during the ritual. A banishing spell causes the offending person to simply not show up in your vicinity. Again, I have to advise caution when using such magick. If you can deal with the situation without it, then do so. Magick should be the very last resort.
What If Another Witch Is Cursing Me?
Your first line of defense is belief. If you believe strongly that someone cannot affect, influence, or manipulate you with magick, then their curses cannot work. If, however, you do feel that you can be cursed, then you need some form of psychic defense. I have some suggestions here: Psychic Protection: Tips and Techniques for Witches and Sensitives. However, you can build up your own super psychic protection by finding such spells (either in books or on the web) and adapting them for yourself. They can be defensive (protective) or offensive (counter-attack).
I Keep Seeing References to ‘Elements’
Ah, yes, the elements play a huge part in witchcraft. I’m not talking about the ones that you learned about in school. Rather the elements in witchcraft (and other specialties like tarot and astrology) are how the ancients defined the qualities of the world. For them, the universe appeared to be made up of earth (tangibles), fire (mysterious, awe-inspiring), air (the unsee-able but essential to life) and water (oceans, streams and tears). There is also a fifth, the element of Spirit.
I find myself always fascinated by the elements and love the way they permeate everything, from our actual physical world to human psychology. Read more about them here: Understanding and Working with the Elements.
I’ve Heard of ‘White Witches’; What Are They?
White witches are supposed to be paragons of virtue who only ever work magick for good. And they might well do that. However, in all my years of observing human beings, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who is completely ‘good’. We are all made up of shades of positive to negative. Therefore I’m extremely skeptical when someone describes themselves as a white witch. It’s just too ‘Disney’. Can you be a white witch? Sure, you can try.
Magickal Journal or Book of Shadows
Wiccans are taught to create a Book of Shadows. What is that? It’s basically a book of witchy knowledge. Now, personally, I think you can buy yourself a couple of good books on witchcraft and use them for reference. I recommend anything by Lisa Chamberlain as her books are comprehensive, accessible, and affordable. Plus, you can get apps for things like the Moon phases. What a witch’s journal is useful for is recording experiences, feelings, discoveries, quotations, and results of spells or readings. It’s a book of self-knowledge, more than anything else, and self-knowledge is fundamental to being a good and effective modern witch.
Talking about self-knowledge, there’s nothing more empowering than having that confidence that comes from knowing who you are. For girls and women who doubt themselves or have issues with their relationships, bodies, and professional lives, the piece, Witchcraft Empowers Women may be useful. And journaling is a tool I recommend heartily in that article.
Witches and Relationships
Witches have boyfriends, husbands, wives, girlfriends just like any other member of society. Sometimes their partner will share their love of the path and, when this happens, it can be a wonderful thing to be in a magical relationship. Often two people traveling the pagan path together want to announce their commitment to the world. Some get married in the traditional way; others prefer a proper old handfasting. Usually a handfasting is a short-term commitment for a year and a day. Witches are wise enough to know that new-ish relationships have a habit of failing so rather than opt for the full-on church or register office ceremony, they go for the do-it-yourself, renewable handfasting.
More Itchy Witchy Questions?
That’s the thing about witchcraft; it is very conducive to inquiring minds, so the questions never stop. Here’s an article that attempts to answer a whole bunch in one go: Witch Basics: Witchcraft FAQs.
Feel free to ask other questions on any of the articles mentioned above. They all have a dedicated Q&A section at the bottom. Please try to keep your questions on the topic of the article.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Bev G