Many people are intrigued by Pagan spiritual paths, but don’t know how to begin learning and practicing. There’s an overwhelming amount information out there! It can all seem so arcane and complex. Also, many newcomers are concerned that dabbling in magic and witchcraft will bring about negative consequences, like harming their mundane life or putting them in touch with unwanted forces.
While I’d never argue that magic (or anything else worthwhile) is completely safe, there are ways to get your toes wet without great risk. This article discusses basic magical practices that anyone can do. These ideas aren’t just for beginners—they are foundational practices that will carry over into your life as an experienced Witch.
Meditation and prayer
Many Witches and Pagans describe a moment in which they landed on their path. Perhaps they realized their magical calling in a moment of intuition, or a specific God or Goddess spoke to them in a dream or vision. But not everyone is lucky enough to receive a grand epiphany—perhaps your path is calling to you more quietly. Take a few minutes each day to still your mind and allow the Divine to speak to you.
Making an altar
An altar is an external representation of your spiritual life—anyone can make one. An altar can be big or small, simple or elaborate, permanent or temporary. Your altar can contain inspiring artwork, photos of family, symbols of God, feathers and stones, etc. It can become the center of your magical practice, or just a quiet place for reflection. Making an altar is a great exercise that guides you to reflect on what stirs your spirit.
Observing the seasons
Most Pagans strive to return to (or more realistically, to re-create) a day-to-day existence that is more in tune with Nature. All life is dependent on the rhythms of the Sun and Moon, yet our electric lights and climate control make it easy to forget. You certainly don’t have to love the outdoors to be Pagan. But try paying attention to where you are on the Wheel of the Year. What is the length of the day and night? How do you feel, emotionally and physically? How are plants and animals behaving? It is miraculous and humbling to live on a planet with seasons!
Akin to living in sync with Nature is the idea of the interconnectedness of all beings. And with that comes gratitude. A good activity is to make a list of everyone who has helped you become who you are—family, friends, teachers, spiritual guides, even helpful strangers.
But as Pagans, we don’t stop with sentient beings. We honor all the materials of Creation and all the carriers of life. When you take a drink of water, for instance, you can be grateful for the element of Water and the complex network that has brought it to your lips. You can be grateful for the Earth of the cup, the maker of the cup, the human ancestor who made the first cup, and the Divine shape of the Cup. Gratitude is a core spiritual practice that can only make your life more magical!
Divination has a spooky reputation as a way to foretell the future or talk to spirits. But at its most basic, divination is simply a way of putting your mind in touch with what your spirit already knows. (Think of it as introspection, kicked up a notch.) Tarot, runes, pendulums, crystal gazing—there are all kinds of divination systems, and an experienced Witch should be proficient in at least one. Take the time to practice and learn, and be amazed at the insights you can uncover.
Interviewing a Witch
Probably the best way to learn about the Craft (and dispel some fears) is to talk to people who have been on the path a bit longer. Some Witches prefer to keep silent about their work, but most are happy to answer questions and offer advice to a beginner. You can get first-hand accounts of different practices and traditions without committing more than a few minutes of your time. If you can, attend a public Pagan ritual or gathering. There will be lots of people to chat with, and lots of different perspectives.
Well, there you have it—six easy, low-risk ways to begin exploring Paganism. May your search be blessed!
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