Friday, August 9, 2013

Prompt: Advice to Newbies

Everyone has their two cents on where to start, so where do you weigh in? If someone new to Paganism/Wicca/Witchcraft approached you and asked for some direction, what would you say? Start with books? If yes, what books would you recommend? Start out in nature? Seek a mentor?Today's topic is all about where you think a good starting place is and why.

My first bit of advice to any beginner, regardless of what path you're looking into, is to write things down! Record good information, record things you disagree with (and why), record any experiences, record what you're interested in learning more about... just write and record all sorts of things.

This serves two purposes. First, it's just a good way to keep and sort through all the information you'll be coming across - because there's very likely going to be a lot of it, especially if you're looking into more than one tradition, or taking an eclectic approach.

But second, as you progress down your spiritual path, it's really nice to have this sort of thing to look back on. You can see where you've grown, see where you may need to grow more, remember when you were interested in a particular topic, and so on.

As for where you learn? Unless you're looking into a particular tradition, often the best way to go is by using a variety of resources. Books (both historical non-fiction and modern pagan books), websites, talking to other pagans, and yes, if you're looking into a more nature-based path, get out into nature and learn there, as well. Cross-reference, get recommendations, fact check.

How one chooses to learn is also quite a personal thing... As a hedgewitch, I've come to where I am in my practice though self-teaching with books and the like, and that worked very well for me. However, others might find they learn much better with a teacher. That's really up to the individual, and how they best learn - although, of course, some traditions have specific requirements in that area.

Beyond that, I'd say another common mistake is putting off any form of practice. Pray, meditate, spend time in nature, learn little basic rituals, that sort of thing. It's good to read, it's good to study, it's good to have an understanding of what you're going to be doing... but too often I see people feel they need to study for a year, or years, before they can do anything - and then, even if a good amount of time has passed, they find themselves stuck, and unable to take those first few steps. Sometimes this is because they've taken in too much information, they get caught up in how much they don't know, they loose track of what they do know, or where they should start to later move to more advanced things. Don't jump into the deep-end with no idea of what you're doing, but do start taking those baby steps, building that strong foundation for your practice, sooner rather than later.

A similar mistake is feeling like you need every tool, herb, stone, etc. under the sun before you can do anything. Again, sometimes certain things might be tradition based, but generally speaking there are a lot of basic practices one can do that require NO materials at all. Don't let a lack of tools discourage you.

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