So you’ve found yourself on a moonlit, earth-based, goddess loving, soul-searching, self-empowering path.
Unfortunately (or really, fortunately if you think about it for a minute), I don’t have any answers for you. What drew me to this path has changed over my lifetime, and will be different from what draws you. The resources of the 1990s are vastly different from the 2020s, and the conversation about witchcraft, spirituality, energy, vibration, and magic has changed dramatically.
So I cannot tell you how to proceed on this path. But, I do have some questions for you. And I believe if you answer these questions honestly and from the heart, your answers will point you in the right direction.
“What has drawn me to this path?”
I was drawn to witchcraft initially by an unflinching, unquestioning knowing. (Sometimes I miss those days.) When I was younger, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that witchcraft was an echo of the spirituality and perspective I already lived in my heart if not in practice. Reading and researching about the Craft affirmed what my soul already knew.
My mother had a tarot deck and it enchanted me. I picked up a completely insane book on Egyptian Magic during a trip to Virginia Beach the summer after 5th grade, and even though the spells were nuts (Spell for Reattaching a Severed Head) there was some harmonic of truth within those pages that spoke to me. I mentioned to my friend once the little floaty bits of light that fly off of trees and plants and into the sky and I wondered what those were…and she told me I was hallucinating. But I knew I was not, because I’d always seen them, everywhere, every time I looked for them.
Later in life, after losing touch with my spiritual self to one degree or another (after being told I was crazy, out-of-touch with reality, woo-woo, not being rational, etc.), I was drawn back to witchcraft for healing. I needed deep, emotional, spiritual healing to address some truly insidious wounds and psychological pathogens that had manifested in my life and in my Self. I needed witchcraft to remind me that I had power in these seemingly powerless situations, whether that power was true magic, divine intervention, or simply a refusal to continue to let my mind be clouded by the toxic social contracts I had unconsciously agreed to at some point in my life.
So what has drawn you here? Is it a desire to embrace your own intuition? Are you seeking empowerment? Is it the knowing that there is a world beyond the measurable, physical, analytical world that we have been told is the only “real” world? Maybe it’s all those things, maybe it’s none of those things. For many of us who identify as women, it might be a very politically motivated thing as well as a spiritual thing. For those of you who identify as men, it might be a way to shake off the pervasive shackles of toxic masculinity, by embracing the very Yin energy of the unknown.
Ask yourself: “What has drawn me to this path?” And then ask yourself again, and again. See what comes up. Dig as deep as you can. The core motivation is what will unlock truly life altering magic.
“What appeals to me about this path?”
One of the biggest and most obvious appeals of witchcraft is the promise of empowerment. It’s not quite the same as the lust for power that leads folks into “sin” and what have you; this is the kind of empowerment we know we are owed, deserving of, and worthy of. We want to be empowered to change our own lives for the better without intentionally harming* anyone along the way.
(Side note: If you want to be empowered to hex someone who did you wrong I will not shame you for that, but I will kindly ask you to leave any hexing questions at the door because I do not believe in using witchcraft for punitive purposes. There are other ways to use magic to fix harmful situations. But also, even a witch doesn’t use magic for EVERYTHING.)
But you know what? Something that appealed to me about witchcraft in a more subtle way, back when I was suffering from panic attacks and a crippling anxiety disorder, was the idea of organizing my life with intention: by the phases of the moon, the cycles of the seasons, the Farmer’s Almanac, the rhythms of my body.
Also, the possibilities of the Pinterest-chic organization of it all. Go on, go to Pinterest and look up any combination of witchcraft and herbs, crystals, altars, etc. You’re going to find some really aesthetically pleasing images. The thing about this specific highly organized appeal is that it also appealed to my perfectionism, and thus prevented me from really getting back into witchcraft until I recognized that it was the calm and peace of the organization I was looking for…now I just pop all my herbs and shit into whatever jars I have in the recycling bin, slap a masking tape label on, shove it in my desk drawer and call it a day.
Also, and this is still a bit hard for me to admit to the world but I’m gonna say it: I am in love with the romance of magic and witchcraft. I love the majesty of the moonlight and the mystery of the unconscious. I love the adventure of the inner journey, the archetypes of divinity and mythology as they appear in my heart and in my life, the sheer pleasure of experiencing the story of the Fool’s Journey.
Look, I’m a writer. I love a bit of drama (a bit). Magic makes life more exciting, more interesting. It helps me be more present in the life that I have.
So those are some things that appeal to me about witchcraft. It might be different for you, so ask yourself: “What appeals to me about this path?”
“What do I hope to get out of walking this path?”
I am seeking my authentic self. This has been a lot harder than some folks might think it should be, but this path has led me to the closest version of my true, authentic self that I have ever been.
Personal transformation, healing, spiritual awakening…these are all common experiences on this path. I seek these moments out. I embrace them when they come. Even in my spellwork, I look for the ways in which my desires express my authentic self. I look for the ways my existing problems express my detachment from my authentic self. I believe, because it has been my experience: the greater the separation between our authentic selves and the person we are pretending to be, the greater we will suffer. This disconnection can manifest in innumerable ways, from poor health to poor finances to poor relationships to poor self image. The list is endless. But the rewards of seeking authenticity are also endless.
“What am I afraid of?”
Just, like, in general. What are you afraid of in life? Afraid of on this path? Afraid of on any other path?
I will tell you some of the fears that I have been working through. I am afraid of not living my life to its fullest potential. What an abstract concept! What an impossible goal! What is the fullest potential of a life? No one can define that but me, and life will inevitably throw unpredictable limitations at you when you least expect it, thus changing the direction of the potential of your life.
I am afraid of being utterly wrong, stupid, ignorant, and incorrect in my beliefs. This fear was one of the things that led me to a spiritual drought and crisis that was probably the darkest period of my life. But, like…that’s the thing about faith and beliefs: the things we have faith in and believe in are things that cannot be proven or disproven. So better the happy life of faith than the miserable life of certainty, IMO.
I am afraid of not being control. This is a fear I have carried with me since childhood and it is probably the one that has messed me up the most. What is worse, I not only fear not being in control but I believe I SHOULD be in control, that it is my responsibility to be in control of all things at all times. This has led to some legendary stories of my personal will power, but also to some epic panic attacks triggered by the most obvious of realizations: that I CAN’T CONTROL EVERYTHING.
If you’re new to this path, or returning, or beginning a new journey, I highly encourage you to ask yourself these questions. Write down the answers. Maybe your answers have changed over your life or will change as you progress on this path. When our intentions are made clear to us and to the universe, the clouds will part and the path will light up before us. Trust your feet to lead you. They may take you to unexpected places, but we often find what we are looking for in the places we least expect to find it.
Happy travels, fellow lunambulators ☽🌑☾
Okay, okay, here are some basic suggestions:
(But please do the question and answer thing first to help you tune into what will actually be of benefit for your journey)
TAROT: Obviously. Why obviously? Because the archetypes of the tarot are an infinite resource for honing our intuition, finding insight into our lives and spiritual patterns, tapping into our unconscious, and a whole lot of other witchy-and-Jungian things.
Pick up a Rider-Waite-Smith deck (generally considered the “universal” tarot) and study the cards. Do a daily draw and journal about your “reading” of the card. If you want some deep dives into the Major Arcana, I highly recommend the podcast Between the Worlds (formerly Strange Magic) with Amanda Yates Garcia. The first few seasons are co-hosted with Sarah Gottesdiener and they spend an entire episode on each card in the Major Arcana. I loved it and will probably listen to every single episode again.
ASTROLOGY: Look, I know astrology is having a moment (just like witchcraft is), but that doesn’t undermine the fact that it’s been around for thousands of years as both a subtle science and a spiritual practice. Get into it, though. Rising signs alone aren’t going to impress you much. Look at the universal aspects like moon phases, retrogrades, planetary alignments. For me, discovering the truth about Mercury retrograde actually being a lovely time for rest and introspection was a game-changer.
NUMEROLOGY: This is actually closely tied with tarot. It gives you a starting place for examining your own life and the patterns you have lived out. It should be noted that, like tarot and astrology, none of these things are locking you into a particular fate or way of being, but they can be used to help you understand certain strengths and weaknesses you might be living out.
MYTHOLOGY: This is the good shit. Go read up on your favorite gods and goddesses and try to find some scholarly articles that dissect those myths. Try to find the myths that repeat themselves across cultures. Believe it or not, the seeds of the story of Jesus are the same as the story of Horus. Read about comparative mythology, fairy tales, folk tales. The myth of Ereshkigal, the Mesopotamian Queen of the Dead, brought me back from the brink of utter despair when I did a hermitage at a nunnery in Erie, PA during a particularly dark time in my life. This book in particular. (If finding a jungian analysis of a dark goddess myth in the library of a monastery isn’t magic/fate/divine intervention, I don’t know what is.)
MEDITATION: SUPER obvs. This can be done any way you like! Guided meditations, meditation with music, silent meditation, transcendental meditation, inner journeying meditation, sitting, walking, lying down, savasana, lotus, whatever. Find what works for you. Do it for one minute, then three, then five. See if you can build up to 10 minutes at a time. This is going to be good for you in SO many ways, just Google it.
CRYSTALS/GEMS/STONES: I don’t care if you don’t “believe” in their power, go out to the nearest New Age store or out into your garden or down by a stream and hold some rocks. Pay attention to the rocks. Feel their vibration. If you have the opportunity to hold more than one kind of stone, see if you can sense the difference between their energies. Maybe you won’t feel it right away, maybe you will, but keep practicing. Hold stones while meditating. Keep a stone in your pocket during the day. Do some research. See what resonates with you. Stones not only help us in subtle energetic ways, but can help us train our own energetic awareness of the world around us.
That’s all for now!
*ABOUT THE IDEA OF NOT HARMING OTHERS: This requires a broad perspective on the ideas of healing and harming. Healing sometimes looks like suffering, but leads ultimately to positive change. On the subject of potentially harming others when we work magic on ourselves and our own lives, we have to trust that as long as we do not set out to do harm with magic, the universe will handle all persons involved in our positive change. (This stance on intention is for MAGIC, not actual interactions with people. I hope if someone tells you that your words or actions harmed them regardless of your intentions that you listen to them and reflect on what they’ve said, but that’s a whole other topic.) For example, if we do a spell for prosperity we must trust that the universe will not steal from someone else to give us more. A spell for healing does not mean taking health away from someone else. A spell for love does not mean breaking up another relationship. A spell for peace in the workplace might lead to someone who gossips being fired, but that’s not your “fault,” even if your spell might have been a catalyst for change. We all have free will, and the person who got fired had the free will to be a professional in the workplace.
Keep your eyes on your own paper and act out of love. Your will is not so powerful that you are going to wreck any lives that weren’t already on their way to wrecking themselves. (And “wreck” is a strong word there.)
PS: JFYI the links to products on this post are affiliate links, so if you purchase those items I’ll get a wee percentage at no extra cost to you. Thanks!