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How to Be a Witch

Three Parts:Learning about WitchcraftCasting and Using SpellsDeveloping Your Practice

Forget the pointy hats, broomsticks and corny incantations; there is a lot of misinformation spread about witches. A complex and personal practice, witchcraft is a method of folk magic, involving a deep knowledge of the natural world, the spiritual world and the self. If you've got a connection with those worlds and are unsatisfied by traditional beliefs, learning more about what it takes to be a witch might be right for you. It's a lifelong practice and journey.

Part 1
Learning about Witchcraft

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    Learn about different magic traditions. There's no central school of witchcraft, witchery, or spell-casting, which means that novices and non-practicioners often have a hard time figuring out what's real and what's fake. Becoming a witch is a personal journey that involves research, patience, study, and more research (seriously, for many witches, it's 20% spell casting, 80% taking notes). Depending on your interests, different schools of thought and traditions may be more appropriate or interesting. Some common styles of witchcraft include:
    • Wicca and “green” witch crafts are popular in the United States, often revolving around Gaia-study and nature-based spells and meditation. The earliest Wiccans were followers of Gerald Gardner, a British magic scholar in the 20th century, whose ideas and works were popularized in the 1950s and 1960s. If you've got an interest in crystals, the use of herbs, rituals, and essential oils, this might be right for you.[1]
    • Neo-paganism and Druidism, or other ancestral witches are interested in history and tradition, specifically practicing in accordance with the seasons and with rituals. If you want to get back to the source of "traditional" witchcraft, these styles might be right for you.
    • Regional and esoteric witch crafts, like Santeria, Stregheria, Fari, Pharmakos, and other cultural witch crafts are also common, depending on where you live and your culture's traditions. If you've got a strong connection to place, research the local practices where you live.
    • Keep in mind that some religions/practices are closed. " A culture or religion is considered “closed” if you are required to be born or formally initiated into it into order to be considered a part of that community or faith and to have the right to participate in their spiritual practices. Easy examples of this include Hinduism and the various Native American religions and cultures. Wicca, in it’s traditional form, is considered closed, due to the fact that is it a mystery religion and formal initiation into a coven is required. (Neo-Wicca, on the other hand, is an offshoot that is much more open and accommodates solitary and uninitiated practitioners who follow Wiccan principles and practices.) The best way to know if a culture is closed is to ask someone who is part of the culture. Generally, as with so many other things in life, it is best to ask permission before picking up something that seems exotic or mystical.
    • Secular Witchcraft, which is unaffiliated with any religion, philosophy, belief system, etc. Any person from any religion (or lack thereof) can practice secular witchcraft.
    • Witchcraft is for everyone. No one is prohibited from practicing witchcraft. Some people want to act as gatekeepers, but the truth is that other people don't get a say in your personal beliefs and practices, no mater what they say. There are atheist witches, christian witches, Jewish witches, Luciferian witches, Wiccan witches, agnostic witches, etc. The only person who can decide what works for you is you.
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    Read widely about different histories and traditions. One thing the novice witch will quickly learn is that every adept practices differently. There’s no “bible” of witchcraft, no central guiding list of principles or rules for witches.[2] Anything that claims to be is false. Your practice will be your own practice, no one else’s, so it’s important to take “expert” advice with a grain of salt. You can read some classics, but it should all go toward your own personal understanding of the arts and your own practice. Some classic authors and readings include:
    • Aleister Crowley
    • Colin Wilson's The Occult: A History
    • Malleus Mallificarum, an ancient text on witchcraft
    • Montague Summers’ Witchcraft and Demonology
    • Check out wiccan writings by Gerald Gardner, Doreen Valiente and Scott Cunningham.
    • Nigel Jackson, Nigel Pennick, Carlo Ginzburg, Robin Artisson, Gemma Gary, Andrew Chumbley, have written widely of traditional witchcraft. (Be aware that many books and/or authors are coming from a Wiccan/neo-pagan viewpoint. There is nothing wrong with this, but if you are looking for information on, for example, secular witchcraft- that is to say, witchcraft that is not associated with any religion, philosophy, belief system, etc., then books on Wiccan witchcraft won't be as helpful).
    • Some authors are known to be, at best, problematic and mistaken, and at worst, willfully ignorant and deliberately misinformative. These authors often include historical inaccuracies (ranging from misunderstandings/misconceptions to outright lies), biased views on various subjects, and rampant cultural appropriation. Some authors to be wary of are: Silver RavenWolf, Raymond Buckland, Laurie Cabot, Margaret Murray, Edain McCoy, and D.J. Conway. If you do decide to read their works, be sure to fact-check anything and everything. These books can be useful, absolutely, but do your own independent research, and don't take anyone's word as gospel, no matter how popular they are.
    • Also keep in mind that some authors, while their works are incredibly useful, have been dead for a while, and so their information is likely to be a little outdated. Scott Cunningham is a good example of this. His books can be very helpful and informative, but remember to round out your reading with other sources.
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    Develop personal goals for your practice. It can't be overstated: being a witch is a personal journey. There's no one way to go about doing it. This makes it important to learn what you can, take what you must, and write your own goals and your own path for yourself. It might be helpful to do some journaling, keeping a record of what it is you hope to explore, and what you hope to discover. A few guiding questions can be helping in getting started, but it's up to you to find the answers.
    • What do you want from witchcraft?
    • What types of spells and incantations do you hope to perform?
    • What do you hope to learn about being a witch?
    • How to do you hope that witchcraft can improve or change your life?
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    Watch out for fluff. Be wary of for-pay tutorials and online schemes. Developing a practice in witchcraft isn’t something that can be communicated in 25 easy steps for only $39.95 from Hot Topic. Witchcraft isn’t about following a pre-written list of rules and going from A to B to C in the proper order. It’s a personal journey of discovery that is different for everyone.
    • What it means to "be a witch" and to "practice witchcraft" will change drastically when you talk to different practitioners of magic. Try to take things with a grain of salt. If other witches don't want to help you learn, or disagree with a particular practice or reading that you find power in, talk to other witches. Find a group of like-minded practitioners and ignore the dissenters.

Part 2
Casting and Using Spells

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    Collect the tools for your practice. To get started casting spells and practicing witchcraft, it's a good idea to get the basic tools. No, broomsticks and pointy hats are not necessary. Each witch will require different tools for performing particular spells, but the basics are more or less universal, though it should be stated that none of these items are required in order for you to be a witch.
    • Select a wand. Wands are often selected for their personal connection to the witch. It's a simple matter of finding and charging a stick, but it's also much more than that. Spend a lot of time wandering the woods to find a short stick that works for you, that you feel some connection with. You'll know it when you find it. Don't feel like you aren't a "real" witch, though, if you don't use a wand or any other tool that another witch uses. Your practice is yours alone and no one else can tell you what works for you.
    • Mortar and pestles are important objects for spell casting. Used to mix herbs and other ingredients into a heady potion, a mortar and pestle is available at any house-wares store, and in most kitchens.
    • Herbs. Witch hazel, mugwort, sage, lavender, and many other herbs are commonly used in witchcraft. Scott Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs is an essential guide for the novice witch. You can learn about the powers and the uses of many different common herbs and how to use them.
    • Mineral spirit and salt. Used in cleansing and keeping your spell castings safe, mineral spirits and salts are common barriers against the world of the spirits. You can help to keep yourself safe by charging your tools with all-natural mineral spirits and circling yourself in salt.
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    Charge your magic tools. Wands, crystals, and other implements involved in heavy psychic incantations need to be cleansed thoroughly before and after spell castings. A good witch is in tune with her tools and keeps them charged and free of negative psychic energy. Use the traditions and techniques of your practice to charge and cleanse your tools.
    • Different traditions will offer different techniques for accomplishing this, but in general, many witches use lunar energy to charge or cleanse wands, letting the stone absorb the energy of the moon by sitting out in the moonlight overnight. Wiping your wand down with mineral spirits is also a common practice to cleanse and clear out any bad psychic energy.
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    Cleanse the area. Spells and circles don’t need to be cast in the middle of a dark wood at midnight, and magick rituals can be performed just as effectively in the comfort of your bedroom. Choose a safe space where you’ll be comfortable and undisturbed. Select a place where you can remain uninterrupted for as long as it will take to complete the ritual.
    • Meditate for several minutes, according to your practice. Offer a prayer of protection, requesting that evil spirits and negative energy stay away, and invite positivity and light into your circle. Meditate on the task to come.
    • Light candles and prepare other objects that will be necessary for the ritual that you're going to perform. If other people are around to perform the ritual with you, gather together, hold hands, and complete the cleansing prayers together. Join as one.
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    Cast the circle. Different traditions use different objects and methods for casting a circle, but its not important whether you want to use candles, stones, chalk lines or sticks to create your spell-casting circle, what matters is intent. The circle is a physical or psychic barrier in your safe space, that will allow you to channel the deities, powers, and energies necessary to do your work.
    • In many traditions, a circle must contain candles at each of the four cardinal directions–North, South, East, and West. It's also a good idea to keep a representative of each element in the circle with you. A handful of earth, a glass of water, the fire of a candle, and other elements should all be present.
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    Casting the spell. Welcome the elements and the deities you’re invoking and state the Purpose of the ritual aloud. Specific invocations or prayers should be recited, and spells should be cast at this time. A comprehensive online database of spells can be found here.[3]
    • Raise and release the energy you're invoking. The purpose of a spell is to make your circle a conduit, through which you contact the unseen world of energies and spirits. When you connect with those energies, you've got to contact them safely and detach yourself from them safely as well.
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    Close the ritual safely. Thank the Deities (if present) for gracing you with their presence. Thank the elements for aiding you and supporting you in your spell. Close or open the circle, depending on your tradition.
    • Wiccans practice what is called the Law of Three: "Evermind the Rule of Three, What Ye Sends Out Comes Back to Thee." The law of three states that anything you do comes back to you three fold. So please, be wise, and think about your actions and how they affect others. Keep in mind, though, that not all witches are Wiccan, and non-Wiccan witches are not required to believe in or follow Wiccan guidelines. Do not bash or bully anyone else for their practice just because it isn't the same as yours.

Part 3
Developing Your Practice

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    Find a guide. Since it can be so overwhelming for the novice, it's important for witches who are just starting to explore the world of witchcraft to get help. Find other more experienced witches who will help tutor you in the dark arts, recommend readings, and show you a thing or two about spells.
    • Never lie about your experience or your expertise in witchcraft. If you don't know a wand from a cauldron, don't Try to cast yourself as an experienced witch. Others will respect you less and will see through it. It's better to be honest about your knowledge and be willing to learn.[4]
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    Keep your own Book of Shadows. When you first get started in practicing witchcraft, it's a good idea to start your own book of shadows. Again, it doesn't need to be bound in ancient leather and stained with goat blood–just get a composition book. Adorn it as you would a journal, with images you find powerful, moving, or full of witchy wisdom. Use the book to record spells, observations, and incantations as you pick them up from your readings and research.
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    Create an altar. An altar doesn’t need to be elaborate, or feature the bleached skull of a 12th century mystic (although that would be awesome). An altar is simply a place where you will practice. It should prominently feature personal totems and inspirational objects, things that are essential to your practice. That may mean crystals, stones, herbs, pictures, and any number of other objects that are important to you. Adorn your alter with important objects.
    • If you're a green witch, or a Wiccan, it might be a good idea to put laurels, dead flowers, dried herbs, and other natural things on your altar. Find stones that speak to you, strange seashells, or other objects of power and beauty.
    • If you're a druid, or another type of traditional witch, keep lots of pictures of your family, your ancestors, on your altar. If you don't have any, include very old objects–photos of Civil War soldiers, or old pocket watches, things that remind you of the past and help you connect to it.
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    Practice rhythmically, with the seasons. Many (but not all) witches find it beneficial to be in tune with the changing of the seasons, and with the transitions from one phase to the next. Attune yourself to the moon’s phases and practice your spell casting in accordance with the lunar changes, the equinox, and other essential signifiers of changing time. Get an astrological calendar and learn about the shifting planets. Pay attention to the changing of the seasons and your emotional, physical, and psychic responses.
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    Keep collecting magick objects. As your Book of Shadows grows and swells with spells, it's a good idea to keep your cabinets and your altar growing. Collect herbs and essential oils for use in your spell casting and keep growing your collection of powerful herb and oils. Practice using them and learning about their distinctive uses. Collect precious stones and crystals and meditate with them to find out which you connect with and which you can use in your practice.
    • Herbs and stones are available for purchase, but it's a good idea to learn more about foraging and collecting fresh herbs to dry for yourself. Connecting your practice as much as you can with the earth is an excellent idea. Get a local field guide for greenery in your climate and go out frequently to find useful magick herbs. Go foraging around creek beds to find precious stones.[5]


  • If you are interested in becoming a witch or Wiccan, trying to talk to one in person before you make any decisions. Try It's like Facebook for pagans. It's also very good for finding local covens, should you wish to join one.
  • Follow your intuition. If it feels right, go with it, if it doesn't, don't. Your intuition is your most powerful tool.
  • Remember that Wicca and Witchcraft are not the same. You will come across information that states otherwise, but in general think of it this way: Wicca is a religion, Witchcraft is a skill. Witchcraft can be used alongside many different religions (or no religion at all) and appear in many different contexts, Wicca generally cannot.
  • Don't be fooled by new age rip-offs. Prominent authors with dozens of books may seem authoritative, but they often do not check their facts and may be awash in misinformation. Why? Certain things sell better than others. Do your homework with ANY book you read.


  • Know what you are doing or you could seriously injure yourself. With magic or otherwise. Don't get yourself or others hurt.

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Categories: Paranormal Magic