Finding Your Path
Finding your path is something that a lot of would-be witches struggle with. When you first come to the craft, there is a ton of information at your fingertips – some good, some questionable, and the odd piece of utter BS.
Those who come from a line of witches have a natural head start, in that theirs is a tradition passed down through the generations, so the fundamental basics are there from the outset. But coming to witchcraft with little prior knowledge, and nobody to look to for guidance, can quickly bring about info overwhelm. With such conflicting and confusing advice coming at them, little wonder people are giving up before they’ve even had a chance to start.
What’s a witch to do?
Stress not, witchlings, for I will now share with you 5 basic truths about witchcraft, to set you well on your way to finding your path.
Truth 1: You Don’t Have To Be Born Into Witchcraft To Become A Witch.
It’s true, there are many witches out there with a long established and well respected lineage. But that line had to begin somewhere right? Some people would have you believe that you must be a 5th/25th/95th generation witch to be taken seriously, but I disagree. Where is it written in stone that witches are born and not made?
It’s important to remember that many, many hereditary witches out there don’t see themselves as any better or worse than those who choose to become a witch. At the end of the day, however we found our way here, we are all equal.
Every Family Line Starts Somewhere
As far as I’m aware, there are no other witches in my living family. Did it make life harder for me, coming into it with little to no frame of reference? Erm, yes, somewhat. Does this make me any less of a witch? Hell no!
We didn’t learn the old ways from sitting around our granny’s cauldron, but that doesn’t make our practice any less valid. Every family line starts somewhere, and to be the founder of a generation of witches is pretty special within itself!
The exception to this is with some initiatory traditions where your lineage is culturally essential within your practice. This leads nicely on to my next point…
Just Starting Out As A Witch? check out my article about 6 common concerns new witches worry about HERE.
Truth 2: Witchcraft and Religion Do Not Have To Go Hand In Hand.
Unless you want them to of course.
Buying my first book on witchcraft, about 20 years ago, I was unaware that what I was reading about, was in fact wicca. Wicca is a religion. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing wiccans, pagans, christians or any other people with religious leanings. I’m all about live & let live (wherever possible) however, wicca and witchcraft are often used interchangeably which causes much confusion around the subject.
I read that book from cover to cover (the internet wasn’t a fixture in everybody’s home back then!) and took dilligent notes, so determined to ‘do it properly.’ But after a week or 2, I always ended up losing interest. I just didn’t get it. Yes, I thought, I want to reclaim my power, work with herbs and bring about some changes, but there are so many rules that don’t resonate with me.
For a start, I was at university, so not keen on setting up an altar to be trashed during a house party! The concept of worshipping gods and goddesses made me feel uncomfortable and casting circles to invite elements in just seemed a massive hassle! As for the law of 3? Well that just completely put me off doing anything for fear of reprisal.
Wicca and Witchcraft Are Not The Same Thing
It was returning to the craft 5 years ago when I realised. Wicca and witchcraft are NOT the same thing. Not all witches are wiccan, and not all wiccans are witches (although most probably are). Yes, this is confusing, but does make sense once you get your head around it. (SilverLotus explains it beautifully HERE.)
The main thing to take from this is, when finding your path, not everything you read has to be followed to the letter. If you like the structure and ceremony of an initiated religion, that’s awesome, and you may find wicca ideal. If you prefer to skip the ritual and get down to the business of spell casting by yourself, that’s still awesome. This is the beauty of the eclectic path – there is room for everyone.
Truth 3: There Is No Such Thing As Black Magick.
Bit of a sensitive point, but despite the scare stories you’ve heard, you need to get your head around this when finding your path. You will hear talk of white magick, black magick, dark magick and grey magick, but the truth is this:
Magick has no colour.
As mentioned previously, there are no witches in my family. I learned a lot from Jasmine, the original creator of this site, who phrased it like this:
‘I don’t see magick as being black or white because, for me, it’s just not that simple. Like everything in nature, magick is both positive and negative- it just depends on your perspective. The intent of the spell caster is what determines how the energy will manifest, and my intentions depend completely on what I need the outcome of the spell to be. A great way to look at it is to see magick as fuel. You can use this fuel to light a fire which cooks food to nourish your family and friends, or to set your enemy’s house on fire. Obviously that’s an extreme example, but the point is, the fuel doesn’t decide. The responsibility lies with the one who uses the resource, not the resource itself.’
You can read more about Hedgewitchery in Jasmine’s Grimoire.
Magick itself is basically energy. It doesn’t adhere to any ethical standards, it does what it is asked to do. He who uses the magick is he who is responsible for the outcome. Every responsible practitioner has a set of ethics they work to. These may be prescribed by the coven or religion they belong to, or a personal belief system for those who fly solo.
Truth 4: You Don’t Need To Buy All Of The Kit To Call Yourself A Witch.
Now this really is an important point. Desperate to get started, but strapped for cash? You can work around that. Saw an article about crystals and now need to buy a million of them to set up your grid? Want to make your own annointing oil but have no idea where to source the ingredients without blowing your budget? It can be overwhelming when all you see is ‘stuff’ that you can’t afford.
Here’s the thing. You could buy all of the kit and caboodle in the world, but it doesn’t make you any more of a witch. By the same token, having only the bare essentials doesn’t make you any less of a witch. All any of these bits and bobs are, are tools to help you focus and to channel your energy. It’s enormous fun to wave a wand around, but you could just as easily use your finger. Boiling up a brew? All a cauldron is, is a cast iron pot with a handle.
Some witches have a special athame for cutting herbs but I find secateurs much easier. It’s lovely to have a chalice, so I use a water glass from my kitchen with an etched dragonfly on the front.
This also applies to storage. I read in one of my facebook groups today of a witch who stores graveyard dirt in an urn. I totally respect that, and let’s face it, that’s a great idea, but mine is all stored in tupperware pots. Not as magickal sounding I know, but they serve the same purpose.
Herbs and Crystals Can Be Substituted
When it comes to using herbs, crystals and things more specific in nature, there are ways around that too. So you want to carry out a curse but cannot get hold of any of the Hexing Herbs online? Some ingredients are hard to come by, (especially poisons) and best grown yourself or taken (responsibly) from the wild. But what if you live in a place where gardening and nature walks aren’t a possibility? That’s when you have to get crafty by substituting with something else. It certainly wasn’t possible for the witches of old to order a home delivery of dried herbs. They worked with what they already had.
The same with crystals. I have a moonstone ring which cost the grand total of 99p from wish.com. It’s cheap and cheerful, but that doesn’t stop me from charging it to wear during readings and spellwork. My 2 quartz crystals were found out and about in cornwall, but I also have an old haematite earring that I use.
Knowing which items to substitute comes with time and experience, but in the meantime, hit google search. Or join a facebook group and ask. I believe your intuition is often the best guide, but there are times when we all need to take advice, and that’s ok! Just remember to receive everything you are told with a pinch of salt, and if you’re not sure, read, read and read again. When everybody is saying pretty much the same thing, chances are there’s more than a grain of truth to it.
To read more about the magickal properties of herbs and suitable substitutions, check out my master list of magickal correspondences HERE.
Truth 5: Not Every Witch You Meet Is Good, Kind Or Genuine.
Sure, they look and act the part, and they seem to have the knowledge to back up the goods. But they disagree with you at every turn and delight in belittling you and telling you how wrong you are.
My friends, allow me to introduce you to ‘The Witchsplainer.’
I can’t take credit for this title, I saw it on Instagram, but it reaaallly struck a chord with me. A witchsplainer is somebody who starts their sentences with ‘A real witch does it like this,’ or ‘A proper witch does it like that…’ Perhaps that is true within their craft, but choosing to work differently does not make you a fake witch!
Don’t Be A Witchsplainer
If you feel like getting your spell chat on with an awesome bunch of witchers (not a witchsplainer among us), swap tips & tricks and make some friends, then why not join my facebook group The Undefined Witch.
I think a lot of the confusion comes from the wiccan rede ‘An it harm none, do what ye will.’ As discussed, the concepts of wicca and witchcraft are often used interchangeably, and many new witches could be forgiven for thinking this is a universal law of withcraft. It isn’t. Neither is the idea that what you send out is visited back on you to the power of 3. If you choose to believe this then you have my utmost respect, however, those who don’t can absolutely still be witches.
Anybody who tries to pour cold water over your beliefs is probably best avoided, whether they call themselves a witch or not. This isn’t always easy in real life, which is why so many witches are still ‘in the broom cupboard’. Personally I tend to keep my trap shut unless around other witchy folk, because witchcraft is so often feared and misunderstood, particularly in my family. If you are out and proud, good on you! Remember not to let the witchsplainers of the world put you off your stride. Just as important, please don’t be a witchsplainer. It’s just not cool.
So there we have it, the 5 basic truths about witchcraft that will, hopefully, set you on the road to finding your path. If I could give just 1 piece of advice it would be this:
Follow Your Intuition!
Your heart, your soul, your gut – whatever you like to call it – follow it, because it knows the way. Learning to listen to your intuition and having the confidence to trust what you hear is a huge part of spiritual enlightenment, and thus an integral part of witchcraft, whichever path you choose to follow.
As always, I’d really love to hear from you. How did you go about finding your path? Do you have any tips to share or unanswered questions? Maybe you are still finding your path 20 years later. All views are respected here and all comments welcomed.