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As a fairly new arrival into the world of witchcraft, and after finding that Wicca was not for me, I have been working at learning and practicing the craft. However, coming from 20 plus years pretty structured training in a different pagan type path, I am struggling to figure out how to learn without a structure or pattern. I feel I need someone experienced to give me a bit of an idea (books are great but very random) so wondered if any of you have worked with a witch mentor of any kind and could give me a pointer on how to perhaps find some help? Thanks.

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Greetings Quietworker,

I think a lot of people tried Wicca first, in fact sometimes saying you are Wiccan is an easy way out, and more acceptable and safe.

But then you realise it is too goody, goody for your tastes, too many rules, too many types of magick, ceremonial magick is too rigid, groups are intimidating, everything must be just so or it won't work.

Being a Traditional Witch seems more authentic to me, Most witches never have a teacher, I did'nt. I joined Forums, and read everything I could, you will find wisdom in the forums and in the fellowship of other seekers like you.

Take what you need and feels authentic to you, discard anything that would make you feel uncomfortable.

For example working skyclad, really! Do you think that the Scottish Witches danced around in the freezing cold of winter? Probably not, and most of us would rather not be naked anyway.

Try things out, if it works for you, keep it. If not, ditch it. Keep a Grimoire or Book of Shadows, record eveything you do. But make your book about your experience and the things that make your heart sing.

Good Luck on your journey, if you have questions you can ask on the forums or ask me if you like.

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Completely agree Onyx.  :lolol:

 

What also baffles me is the labelling of white, grey & black witches... I perform a mixture, but somehow I can't see any witch being inherently black or white. It's the whole "Good vs Evil" debate.

 

I don't believe in evil as in, I do not believe there is a "God" or a "Devil" like what is described in the bible. I think demons can exist, but they are negative hostile spirits eaten by their own hatred & scrabbling for power, not driven by the devil himself.

 

Personally I have never worked Skyclad, I simply do not see the appeal of it.  :cuckoo: Maybe some wiccans get a thrill from it, but I have never had the urge to perform spells butt naked, especially not outside.  :fucku:

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I’m also somewhat new, i began a couple years ago and stopped to try and fit in with the scientific ‘rational’ crowd. Yada yada, the call back to the craft was too strong to ignore, but I had no teacher either. One thing you’ll probably see in response to your post is that this forum is a wealth of information, and it likely is all you need.

 

Once I saw what other crafters were doing from reading the threads, my own intuition kicked in and began forming ideas and editing the practices of others to what fit me. The freedom and lack of rules is disorienting at first but you’ll find your path after you take a look around.

 

Edit- As an example of my intuition working from reading this forum:

Many crafters here construct their practice by asking what the ancestral witches did/had, if you like having ritual tools and structures, do it! It’s correct that the illiterate poor witches of old didn’t have a blade/incense burner/pot/mortar and pestle specifically for spells, but if they had that opportunity, I bet they might have. So I do have those. I also don’t believe that the tools are purely psychological, and instead have their own energies which perform a function in spellwork.

 

If you’re looking for books, The Horn of Evenwood by Robin Artisson and Treading the Mill by Nigel Pearson have both helped me begin forming my practice significantly.

Edited by FancyShadowCat

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Mod spidey senses tingling....Asking for recommendations is fine and dandy, but this is not a teaching forum so if this dances the line into asking for a teacher here, I'm shutting it down.

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Ravenshaw I see why your antenna have gone up. I am not asking for a teacher on here, just asking for insight from anyone who has had that kind of guidance as to if its useful. Everyone has offered really helpful answers that have provided sufficient guidance.

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I agree that we all do learn on our own by experimentation, but sometimes a nudge in the right direction is most welcome.

One thing I do enjoy and find really useful are Correspondance Charts. I know, I hear the howling! That's Wiccan! You may say. But I find that they can focus your mind and intent.

I think my original advice still stands true.

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And if structure and pattern are useful to you then dont be afraid to work with them.  You could take certain things you learned in your previous practice, and do away with the theology and beliefs surrounding it, and use the systems you already know as tools and dont be afraid to modify them as you see fit.

 

A big part of the traditional craft from my understanding would be listening to intuition, inner guidance, and of course messages recieved from the spirits and or unseen forces.  This goes hand in hand with forging your own path! 

 

THat said i agree it can be immensly helpful to have some information and practices to extract knowledge from.  For that were all mostly in the same boat.  researching forums blogs books having conversations with people etc.

 

The most important thing i think is to listen to the call of the spirits and to get down to business and feel the power.  if you dont feel the power or see affirmations, try other things till your in the right flow

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The most important thing i think is to listen to the call of the spirits and to get down to business and feel the power.  if you dont feel the power or see affirmations, try other things till your in the right flow

 

Sometimes, it is the smallest sign that gives you the greatest joy!

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This site is a huge teacher in itself. Use the search feature and you'll find all sorts of threads. I found that things appeared in search results that might appear unconnected but which showed me the next step on the road. I started to learn not to rush but to trust the timing of when things appeared.

 

There are people here who will help when you have specific questions but no one is going to say Read this, do that. All our paths are different. Just try whatever appeals to you, experiment, meditate. Work with whatever guides you have. Be thoughtful about consequences. Don't rush.

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Ravenshaw beat me to the post about requesting a teacher/mentor. However I take the point that you are looking for guidance and I would offer this... (and if I am teaching you to suck eggs, I apologise!) So my best advice would be to set yourself a year and a day, and for this time work on a journal/grimoire every day, even if only for 10 mins. You can make notes on things to research, notes on the research, stick in pictures, text, write in quotes, sketch, highlight, spells, meditations, record your dreams etc etc. After a year review your book and you will find that what started as a bit random and bits and pieces has become a lot more cohesive and your practice will have begun to make sense to you. Enjoy your journey on the crooked path!

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Maybe you could look for the common roots of trad practice symbolized by the former path? When connections come to mind - well, follow 'em.

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I can understand why it would be tricky after the more structured practice. Is it helpful to think of it more of self-structure, of finally just being able to concentrate on what you enjoy for a while? I have found setting myself projects has been useful. For example, I might spend a month on a specific form of Divination - or I might spend a year studying a specific plant. It doesn't mean I'd necessarily do no other witchcraft or study outside of this, but it means I get really deep into a certain thing and then find it triggering spells I want to try, energy work I want to try, ideas of how what I'm studying might be affected by adding or taking something away, art sometimes and dreams, as well as new understanding of in-depth areas. 

 

There are the books, of course. You could follow a book all the way through for structure. I particularly enjoyed 'Viridarium umbris' by Schulke, as I think Michelle did (correct me if I'm misremembering!), but it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. People-wise, it might be worth seeing if there are any meet-ups nearish you that have links more to the Traditional side. I know there are a few Trad covens, but it depends where you are and what type of traditional witchcraft you're interested in. I don't know if lectures/speeches and courses at conferences might help with anything or have anyone there who might give some advice? Scarlet Imprint might have upcoming details of where Peter Grey and Alkistis Dimech are due to speak next, if they're booked in anywhere. On their website it mentions that Alkistis spoke at the Magickal Women Conference in London in June, but it also mentions Occulture in Berlin and Flambeau Noir in Portland, Oregon, USA - it's possible if there is an event nearish you (that covers some Traditional Witchcraft ideas rather than Wiccan) that event organisers might know if someone is open to taking on a student in your area? I could be wrong, but just a thought.

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I hope this isn't against the rules -

For people who need a little bit of a push, especially when it comes to discipline and what skills to pick up first and how, may I recommend Quareia? It's entirely free, online, self-study at your own pace without the need to join any community etc. Most of all, it's entirely non dogmatic - it's not about indoctrinating you into a system but about giving you the basic skills to forge your own path. The first module has wonderful exercises on meditation, the tarot and astrology, visualization, a basic ritual structure to get your body used to holding power... Enough to get you confident enough to walk away and do your own thing whenever you wish. It's the work of Josephine McCarthy, an iconoclastic magician who's very against magical organizations and 'systems' (GD, OTO, Wicca...) and who knows her shit.

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Recommendations are fine 😉 I had a quick look at it and it does seem to offer quite comprehensive courses, although I am getting strong neo-pagan/Golden Dawn vibes from it. Perhaps it's the imagery they use has tainted my opinion of it. The talk of angels & demons will always ring alarm bells for me. But that is just a personal grimace.

The issue I have with any of these types of organisations/sites is, for a beginner they are being spoon fed information. And when there is a lot of information coming from one source, the student will no doubt absorb their views and assume truth. If you take everything you learn with a pinch of salt, cross reference and do your own research, then that's fine. But a lot of those new to witchcraft won't, especially those who are caught up in the witch pop trend looking for easy answers.

For those not so new to their craft then I'm sure certain areas of these courses can help home in some of their skills.

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Neo-pagan? How so? Part of the course entails learning the distinction between forging magical alliances with deities (among many other spirits) vs having a religious connection to the same entities, as magicians have done for... ever, I'd say? McCarthy's sources are grimoires, ancient texts, and her own experience with different lands, short-circuiting neo-paganism and the New Age.

Well, the Golden Dawn had archived all magical knowledge they could (and we should be grateful, despite how terrible their translations were sometimes), so of course many types of magic we weave today might remind you of them in a supercifial way, they're just drawing from the same source. Their innovation - which was their fatal error - was to try to systematize it all, as if there was a single key to magic. That's why GD initiates don't even do magic, they just learn correspondence tables lmao.

As for angels and demons - it's been the purview of cunning-folk and witches to use whatever works and to move between paradigms for as long as we've been around (the opposite of GD types, in short). You'll find that angels and demons have been used in magic for a very long time, both by court magicians and folk practitioners. They're just types of spirits, they were around before they were classified in these terms by monotheistic religions. To the witch, it doesn't matter what they're called, it matters what their sphere of influence is and angel/demon is a useful shortcut, which is all that matters.

Be careful that by trying to avoid dogma, you don't become dogmatic yourself 😉

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I think it's more of a knee jerk reaction to the terminology with regards to angels. I've become so accustomed to reading wiccan fluff and new age nonsense that it immediately puts me off.  As said I only had a quick look at what they are offering.

My remark to Golden Dawn is the Egyptian imagery and focus on Egyptian gods. How it seems to empathise ceremonial magic and occult practices. It is the matter of fact way that they describe things. For example the way they talk about the layers of the underworld and the tools they say to use, also very ceremonial.

I am reading this as a Traditional British Witch and I could see very little on folk practises and lore and certainly no emphasis on the local element or indeed the old european/british witchcraft aspect. The appropriation of other cultural practices and beliefs is what's giving off the neo-pagan vibes.

Also the term magician being used as opposed to witch. Again I may be getting caught on the terminology rather than the content but for new a "witch" starting out, this may come across as confusing.

 

I have just looked up the director/founder of this Quareia and they are an Occultist, so the content doesn't surprise me now. For someone looking to study the occult then this, I'm sure, is a very good resource and some of the disciplines in acquiring skills such as visualisation can be used for a number of systems & paths. But as far as Witchcraft goes, I'm not so sure.

1 hour ago, spectropoetics said:

Be careful that by trying to avoid dogma, you don't become dogmatic yourself 😉

Traditional witchcraft is open, of course, to all sorts of traditions and practices. I myself enjoy learning about them but I will not incorporate them into my practice. My witchcraft is a very earthly local affair.

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Thank you for explaining where you're coming from, Phagos, I understand your circumspection.

Yeah I try not to get too bogged down in terminology, which is a struggle of constant reexamination - I do love a good jargon haha (I mean look at my damn username), but only as long as it illuminates. And so often I find the witch/magician/occultist distinction unhelpful. Most times it's more about demographics or aesthetics than actual praxes - I have a lot more in common with self-styled magician/occultist McCarthy than with your local eclectic Wiccan, self-styled witch. What we mean by traditional witch here has more in common with, say, Aidan Wachter's self-styled sorcery than with the Gardnerian Wiccan who calls herself a traditional witch (as she has every right to, since she's a member of a witchcraft tradition).

To get back to the heart of the topic, I think good training is about the how rather than the what. And Quareia is the closest thing I've found to a self-contained pathway into the how, not to mention it's the most accessible training possible.

Here's an example of what I mean by that - if it makes you go through exercises about ancient Egyptian cosmology, it's only for you to go back to your own myths with the skill to work them magically. The author just happens to really resonate with ancient Egypt, for profound reasons way beyond "because Mathers said so" haha.

3 hours ago, Phagos said:

but for new a "witch" starting out, this may come across as confusing.

Also - new to witchcraft doesn't mean new to life, or critical thinking, I think we (the collective, anonymous we) tend to forget that a bit sometimes.

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Semantics aside, it does cover a lot in one place in regards to certain techniques, however there is also a lot it neglects. Particularly those common to most witches and after all, this is a site for witches.

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On 11/14/2018 at 5:08 AM, Quietworker said:

As a fairly new arrival into the world of witchcraft, and after finding that Wicca was not for me, I have been working at learning and practicing the craft. However, coming from 20 plus years pretty structured training in a different pagan type path, I am struggling to figure out how to learn without a structure or pattern. I feel I need someone experienced to give me a bit of an idea (books are great but very random) so wondered if any of you have worked with a witch mentor of any kind and could give me a pointer on how to perhaps find some help? Thanks.

My best advice at finding the path for anyone is to look into your ancestry and specifically ask your ancestors to guide you to the bloodline where your magical abilities come from. 

My ancestors guided me to traditional mexican Brujería, and I was told specifically by my great grandmother that my spiritual gifts come from her (she’s Mexican obviously). And now it’s clear why I jumped from reading about one tradition to the other, the only one that felt right was the one that was predominant in my blood from the beginning but I kept overlooking.

Once you’ve found the tradition(s) that are for you, it’s best to learn from those of the lineage. 

Edit- I thought I was looking at a newish topic when I posted this, and I should have read the thread more thoroughly.

Edited by FancyShadowCat
Clarification

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