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#1 Honeythorn

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 11:37 AM

I've been reading various posts and stickies on this forum, and am of course interested to learn from them and others here, but I'm having somewhat of a problem.

It's been repeatedly said in various posts that you cannot learn traditional witchcraft from books. That I understand and accept very well. But in that case, how do you learn? Knowledge doesn't just pop into one's head at random. I won't wake up tomorrow and know what herbs and possible bits and bobs I can use in a spell or charm of some description, so how do you learn if there are no books and no one who will tell/teach you?

No one in my family is a witch or even a pagan to my knowledge, and as for herbs for example, my mother wouldn't know how to use one in any form if it jumped out of the gound and bit her on the arse!! :rofl: so I have no one at home to learn things from :(

I did pick up a book on herbs ( for cooking and cosmetics) printed in the 80's, in a charity shop. I was drawn to it and I read it occasionally, but have yet to find ocasion or use for the recipes. I also have another book on the history of cosmetics, which goes into what herbs , minerals and ingredients were used for cosmetics and some incenses and washballs ect, which is very interesting and a favourite book of mine, but of course, not much use for charms, spells and any possible rituals.

I do still own my "wiccany" books by Kate West and the like *hides behind fringe ..don't kill me!! * which list uses of various things for spells and so on, but since these are frowned upon I presume they are either not to be used or not accurate in some way?

I've been seeing mentions of pee, dirt, bones ect for use in charms and spells and so on. How do you know to use these things and for what? You don't just wake up with knowledge like that, you learn it from someone or somewhere surely?

I've scoured the internet for information on witchcraft in my olocal area and thee is nothing at all apart from repeated mentions of a murder in this area in the 40's in which a woman's skeleton was found in a tree and at one point witchcraft was suspected ( Bella in the Wych elm for those who live in or near Stourbridge )

I'm certainly not expecting everyone here to expound all their secrets and information on what they do, as I have to learn for myself. But I don't know HOW to learn when the info is not available to learn from, or people either.

Can anyone help me out with this problem at all?

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#2 Michele

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 02:08 PM

Hey - I'm not necessarily someone who can help, but I didn't want to ignore your post, either, as - trust me- I KNOW it can be frustrating.

First off, don't ever take anyone else's word for what path is right and what book is wrong and who should be the next Iron Chef. Read everything you can, then make your decision based on what feels right for you. Think of this as an art-form; what will make you a better artist... working only in acrylics and not even knowing what watercolours are, or being well-versed in all mediams and then picking the one which fits your talents and inclinations and interests the best?

Second, be prepared to read stuff that will make you cringe, blush, and feel that some people live in fantasy-land... but don't discount it. People used to think germs didn't exist just because they couldn't see them.

Re Wicca - yes it IS a different path; however, it does have elements of traditional workings within it. It also has some elements of ceremonial magic and other paths. No specific path is right or wrong. You might like the Ceremonial Path, the Left-Hand Path, the pure spell-craft path, the quabalistic path, the Wiccan path, the spiritual path, the path that utilizes ritual, the path that doesn't, the path that recognizes divinity, the path that doesn't... read everything, discount nothing, then make your decision.

Books on Wicca you can find in just about any bookstore. If you are interested in basic simple ritual and spell work and have nowhere to start, these can actually, IMHO, be helpful to get some idea of the basic elements of a ritual. Ceremonial will also give you an idea of ritual, but it can be much more complicated. If you're not interested in ritualistic work... continue past them. If you are looking for more traditional stuff, I would look for titiles published by Capal Ban publishing (there may be 2 'n's in Ban, not sure), although they usually will be more about the esoteric and more cryptic... they will mention tools, compass/circle/ring and spells, but won't give you a 'how to.'

One kind of handy way to find books is to get one good book, then look it up on Amazon. Scroll down and there will be a list of "other people who bought this book also bought/looked at..." and then look at those listed.

Robin Artisson is a traditional witch who has several good articles on the internet. He also has books, but to date I have not read his books. Many consider him controversial but I don't know why. I do know he has many simple yet effective ways that he actually puts down in type for laying a compass (he calls them rings). If you are not interested in compasses, then move past that and go on to the next book. But remember - the informed decision is the best one.

If you do go with ritual, once you start doing it, you will start getting answers from other places. Dreams will come, 'impulses' will come (and NEVER discount an impluse, but of course be sensible with it).

Paul Huson's "Mastering Witchcraft" is an excellent basic, beginning book. He does mention diviinity, but you can skip past that if you want. Some of his book is devoted to 'de-conditioning' yourself from culturaly-ingrained thought processes. This can make you feel like an idiot when you're doing the exercise, but it does actually work and make you realise how idiotic some of your cultural fears/assumptions are.

Ancestors - set up a basic ancestor alter and work with your ancestors. If you are adopted, pick up an item from nature, or make something, that to you represents your ancestors and start working with it. Do NOT discount impulse. If you get an urge to draw an equilateral triangle on paper and use that, then do it. I have been AMAZED to years later find the true meaning behind some of my weirder impulses. And remember that at some point you tap into a stream of ancestral memories - and not specifically physical family ancestors, but the 'wise ones, mighty dead, hidden company' of the witch that went on before you. You can google 'ancestor alter' and come up with tons of ideas for how to set-up and work with an ancestor alter. Many will be from hoodoo. It doesn't matter that hoodoo may not be your path. Just do it and as you work it, you will get impulses/urges to make adjustments.

If you're interested in spirituality and how divinity and "other" really relates to the individual, there are several 'pre-vedic' books that although they are associated with Hiinduism, really have a spot-on understanding with the workings of the spirit world. One is "Kali's Odiyya" and the other is "Aghora." Neither is an easy read, and you will have to distance yourself from the "why am I reading Hindu-type books when I want to be a witch" mentality. But I would consider them well worth the effort.

The easiest place to start is to answer this question: WHY do I want to be a witch? If the answer is so I can cast spells for love and money and get rid of everyone who pisses me off, then go for spell-craft. If the answer is becasue I want to find out more about the soul and whether it really exists then look into books on spirituality combined with craft. If the answer is becasue I love herbs, then Scott Cunningham has a good herbal that is reasonably priced. The be-all and end-all of herbal books is the Viraderium Unbris, but it is out of print and will cost several thousand dollars.

Remeber this is not called the crooked path for nothing - your walk will meander, change coruse, expand, pull back, go on again... Discount no interest you are drawn to.

But first, really think about yourself and why you want to get into witchcraft. And if the answer is "because it's cool and I want to check it out" that's okay too. But know yourself and your motives. Listen to everyone's opinions, but make your OWN decision.

Good luck :-)

M

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#3 Honeythorn

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 02:20 PM

Thank you so much Michele, I'll look up some of those books as best I can and try your suggestions if possible. It's all very helpful as I really have no one/thing to learn from here , so thanks for that :thanks:

As for why I want to learn traditional witchcraft...I don't actually have a specific reason apart from that wicca seems rather too fluffy for my tastes, and it seems more than a little "off" to me. I just feel a want on me to learn the traditional craft (albeit with deity/divine energy involved as I do have a genuine belief in that) . That probably sounds ridiculous but that's the best way I have of putting it I'm afraid.

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#4 Michele

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 03:32 PM

Nothing wrong with that - or any - answer. But also remember, you owe an answer to no one, only to yourself. :-)

M

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#5 Morgana

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 05:47 PM

I have to totally agree with Michele. Don't leave books off your list that are wiccan. They are a great start! As for learning herbs, start with Sott Cunningham's Herbal book. This will give you a start on magical properties of herbs. Then invest in a good herbal book such as Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevallier. This was one of the first herbal books I purchsed and still use today.

Also for learning more on herbs, check out www.LearningHerbs.com. Sign up for thier newsletter. Lots of great info on thier site. There is also another site linked to this one called HerbMentor which is a pay site. Not sure with you in the UK if they can change the pay rate for EU. BUT this site is just choke full of great medicianl remedies and cooking with herbs!

Other than that, let me just say the search key is your best friend here at TW. This is site has a ton of archived info, just search to your hearts desire!

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#6 Penny on the Ground

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 06:16 PM

Hey Hawthorn.

I'm very new to these forums so I hope you don't mind me jumping in here. First of all, Michele gave you some very good advice and you would be wise to consider it.

It's been repeatedly said in various posts that you cannot learn traditional witchcraft from books. That I understand and accept very well. But in that case, how do you learn?


Why can't you learn from books? What is a book but a translation of knowledge onto paper? No, you won't learn my tradition from a book. You won't learn the specifics of any tradition in a book, but you will gain enough knowledge to begin your own practices.

Knowledge doesn't just pop into one's head at random. I won't wake up tomorrow and know what herbs and possible bits and bobs I can use in a spell or charm of some description, so how do you learn if there are no books and no one who will tell/teach you?


I'll let you in on a little secret. The very things you listed are the greatest teachers you will have. The herbs will tell you if you are right, the spells will let you know if you have hit the nail on the head.. How? Well, if you're wrong, then they won't work...it really is that simple.


There are very few right or wrong answers. My sister uses aloe and chopped apples to make her cleanser. I mix bergamot and jasmine oil to make mine....and both our faces stay clear. That is one example of two different ways of achieving the same result. Her way would (and has not) work for me because my skin is not my sister's skin. Even within our family tradition, our spell work is still tailored to suit us.

I do still own my "wiccany" books by Kate West and the like *hides behind fringe ..don't kill me!! * which list uses of various things for spells and so on, but since these are frowned upon I presume they are either not to be used or not accurate in some way?


Tools such as the athame etc are Wiccan concepts to me but maybe they do have a basis in traditional practice. I'm not the best person to say what is typical in traditional witchcraft since I have very limited knowledge of the concept as a whole (it is a new discovery to me. Our practices were never labelled as witchcraft but I'm beginning to see that perhaps they do fall under the same umbrella.)


All I can do is tell you about my own traditions and say that we use oil burners, decorative knives etc only during rare rituals and ceremonies. And even then they serve some practical purpose. The oils to scent the rooms, the knives to cut the bread etc.

I've been seeing mentions of pee, dirt, bones ect for use in charms and spells and so on. How do you know to use these things and for what? You don't just wake up with knowledge like that, you learn it from someone or somewhere surely?


Again, you learn by trial and error. Not everything you learn will be useful to you. You are the only instrument you need. Some useful information to remember is that a spell is just the words you speak. It is the spoken part of the ritual only. You can cast a spell just by saying it will rain (of course, it really isn't that easy to fix the weather but you understand my meaning) There are many chants and rhymes (spells) passed down to us that don't require anything but words.

There is one working right now that I'm transcribing to paper that calls for dried dog excrement. It never has been used since any of us (even my grandmother) can remember and I can be quite sure it won't be used in future. Why? Because to put it simply, we find it yucky and unhygenic . Perhaps that spell was written by an ancestor who had no problem getting her hands dirty. Maybe she kept dogs and was experimenting with an efficient means of waste disposal or perhaps desperate times called for desperate measures. Whatever the reason, it doesn't matter. The point is that it was her way and not using means which make us uncomfortable is our way.

I've scoured the internet for information on witchcraft in my olocal area and thee is nothing ....

I'm not surprised you can't find anything. First you have to take into account that traditionalists, however different their methods may be, have at least one common thread; they are very protective over their 'secrets.' It is method of survival that inadvertenly gets 'passed on'. Even now, though we don't go to great lengths to maintain secrecy, my family is still encouraged to keep the specifics to ourselves. I can tell you that I use eggs for prosperity but I won't tell you how.

Your method is right, you're just looking in the wrong place. Stop searching for witchcraft. I can almost guarentee that you'll find nothing. Instead, take a look at mythology. World mythology, local mythology. Research folklore. Don't pass them off so quickly as nonsense, however embellished they may be, every story has elements of reality.

With practice, you'll begin to find common threads. Did you know that both traditional practices and Catholic rituals use salt as protection from harmful forces? Two opposing practices with the same idea. Perhaps it is a case of borrowing, or maybe there's a grain of truth to it ;) How do you find out? Try using salt in your protection/purifying/banishing and see if it works. (word of advice; don't give up if you see no results at first. It takes a lot of attempts before you can assess whether it is helpful to you or not)

I hope this has been of some help to you and I'll leave you with a saying my grandmother used to tell us; the fool is the one who doesn't ask questions and he'll be a fool forever. (because he'll never learn anything)

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#7 sophiadawn

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 07:38 PM

You have been given some very excellent advice in the previous posts. I can't think of a single thing to add really.

I do not have family to teach me anything, I do not live in a "witch-friendly" community and most of what I have learned has been through books (even wiccan ones), internet, this forum and most of all EXPERIENCE.

Welcome to your own crooked path. Also, i have seen this on a bumper sticker..."Not all who wander are lost"

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#8 Honeythorn

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 07:40 PM

Thanks these replies are useful.
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#9 Guest_Nightscent_*

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 10:36 PM

Hi Honeythorn,

I would tend to be a little more cautious regarding using a trial and error method of Herbs to see what works and what dont :-)
Im not sure how keen you are on getting out and about but not a million miles away from you are places like Meon hill, Belas knap and the more commercialised site, the Rollrights. There is also Witch history in the Long compton area.
There is an excellent online site and periodically published magazine that concentrates by and large on the geographical area you live (Mercia)
called the White Dragon.

http://www.whitedragon.org.uk/

I agree with Michele re Viradium umbris and would also add Ars Philtron to the list of must haves if you can obtain them by hook or by crook.

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#10 Honeythorn

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 11:02 PM

I'm afraid I do not live near any of those places and cannot drive sadly. The nearest Hill is Wychbury hill and the Clent hills.

I do attend the Mercian Gathering once a year though which I enjoy immensely . I'm afraid it is my entire physical contact with any other pagans of any type.

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#11 Marion

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Posted 13 December 2009 - 11:50 PM

All books are useful, no matter what path they describe - here's how, in the first place you're gathering information on a particular path. It might suit, it might not but it's better to be well informed than uninformed, and also, if it DOESN'T suit, you ask yourself "why does this not sit with me?" and you get a clearer understanding of what you do want.
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#12 Penny on the Ground

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 02:01 AM

I would tend to be a little more cautious regarding using a trial and error method of Herbs to see what works and what dont :-)

Ooops. Sorry, I did mean to include that.

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#13 Osean

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Posted 19 December 2009 - 01:34 AM

Hi Honeythorn,
Michelle and Penny on the Ground were both spot on. There is nothing wrong with reading as many books you can find on witchcraft. If there is nothing in the book that hits right with you toss it. Even Wicca based books can sometimes have a nugget of truth for you. I have read many books on witchcraft in general. some gave me idea's and some did not.I just keep what i can use and toss the rest away. Right now i am reading books that cover some of the darker side.

My grandmother taught me a lot but my path is quite different then hers was. She was Catholic and would never have called herself a witch. She called her workings "Old time remedies" that were past down to her. I have kept some of the practices she used. She was big into salt for protection. I have kept that and added sage to it. My moms grandmother was native american and was trained as a medicine woman. I learned quite a bit from her as well. I have always taken what information i can use and toss the rest away.
Imagination is an important aspect to my workings as well. If i can think it, I can find a way to do it. my path is uniquely mine just as your path is yours. follow your gut and research everything that interests you and the rest will follow.

Good luck on your path.

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#14 Foxfur

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 06:23 AM

(There are very few right or wrong answers. My sister uses aloe and chopped apples to make her cleanser. I mix bergamot and jasmine oil to make mine....and both our faces stay clear. That is one example of two different ways of achieving the same result. Her way would (and has not) work for me because my skin is not my sister's skin. Even within our family tradition, our spell work is still tailored to suit us.)
Penny on the ground

Thanks, i found this post really useful in the way of I won't be looking for any already tried and tested spellwork here. Now I can start my own practicing, my style. I just wished I hadn't completely scrapped witchcraft when I was 15, but I would have been too young to have joined this site anyway. I'm just thinking about the time it takes to get things right, that was the only reason I've searched.

Edited by Foxfur, 11 November 2010 - 08:20 AM.

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#15 Mountain Witch

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 01:19 PM

I'm just thinking about the time it takes to get things right, that was the only reason I've searched.[/size][/size]


It seems patience (or lack thereof) is one of your problems. There's a reason it's called a practice. Everything takes time - the reading, the discovering, the application, the alteration ...

Wiccan books are just fine. If the ritual and other trappings of that particular religion don't suit but you find other aspects of the witchcraft part of it do, use 'em! Wicca isn't the only path that uses witchcraft and deities. There's also Egyptian magic, Stregheria (Italian), Asatru, Santeria, Voodoo, Hoodoo ... and the list goes on. What others have said here is true - read everything and think about it - does it feel right? If not, are there parts of it that feel right? If so, discard that which doesn't fit and use the parts that do.

For purposes of action nothing is more useful than narrowness of thought combined with energy of will.
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#16 CelticGypsy

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 04:35 PM

All good posts with excellant advice. I'm in agreement with most of the advice, and would like to add that with practice coupled with patience, doubled with intent as to what crafting path you come to master is key. For such a long time I struggled against myself in these challanges. When the simplicity was right before me, I liberated myself from my own self hangups. I found out what makes me tick, and didn't give a fiddler's fart about my " tock ". Practicing these gifts, and talents made me patient with the outcomes. Look within, it's there just waiting to bloom.

Regards,
Gypsy

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#17 Foxfur

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 04:36 PM

It seems patience (or lack thereof) is one of your problems. There's a reason it's called a practice. Everything takes time - the reading, the discovering, the application, the alteration ...

Wiccan books are just fine. If the ritual and other trappings of that particular religion don't suit but you find other aspects of the witchcraft part of it do, use 'em! Wicca isn't the only path that uses witchcraft and deities. There's also Egyptian magic, Stregheria (Italian), Asatru, Santeria, Voodoo, Hoodoo ... and the list goes on. What others have said here is true - read everything and think about it - does it feel right? If not, are there parts of it that feel right? If so, discard that which doesn't fit and use the parts that do.


Yes, i certainly understand now, It just wasn't something I grasped at first. Won't happen again, promise, lol. Thankyou Mount witch and celtic gipsy

Edited by Foxfur, 11 November 2010 - 04:52 PM.

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#18 o_O

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 11:56 PM

I personally view witchcraft the same way as science. You have to read everything you can, dissect what you've learned and figure out why you think it works and experiment with it to see if you're right. If you're not, you have to figure out why not and try again. From doing this you create your own way of things. While you say the books you have aren't for spell work, the question is who says they aren't? Everything has a magical use. It all depends on how you want to use it and the power you see in it.
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#19 Jevne

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 12:08 AM

I personally view witchcraft the same way as science. You have to read everything you can, dissect what you've learned and figure out why you think it works and experiment with it to see if you're right. If you're not, you have to figure out why not and try again. From doing this you create your own way of things. While you say the books you have aren't for spell work, the question is who says they aren't? Everything has a magical use. It all depends on how you want to use it and the power you see in it.


Everything I read from you today, o_O, makes me say . . . "Yeah, that's right". You are just so smart. :chakrahearts:

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#20 o_O

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 12:35 AM

Everything I read from you today, o_O, makes me say . . . "Yeah, that's right". You are just so smart. :chakrahearts:


Thank you <3

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