These are good questions, all part of being a Witch.
This section will guide you first through the process of becoming a Witch, and then through the things you need to know to practice Witchcraft.
What Exactly Is Witchcraft?
At the surface level, being a Wiccan is as simple as choosing to be one, or realising that Wicca's philosophy and practices work for you.
And beyond that, there is living a Wiccan life.
Being a Witch is called practicing the Craft for a reason.
The word derives from a Germanic word meaning strength. A craft is something that involves making things by hand. It is a skilled profession. A craft implies artistry.
And that's what being a Witch is. It's something you practice, thus gaining skills and strength - spiritual and personal empowerment.
It is an artistic expression of being human.
Witchcraft involves the greatest craft there is: the creation of an exquisite soul . . . Yours!
This section will answer lots of questions about becoming a Witch and what to do then. . . .
How Do You Know If Wicca Is Right For You?
Before you "sign up," you want to know whether being a Witch is really for you. How can you know?
What Do Other Witches Have To Say?
You can get a pretty good idea if the Craft would suit you by talking with other Witches. If your friends are Witches, or people you have spirituality in common, it's likely that Wicca could work for you, too.
Invite a Witch for coffee! Being with a Witch friend is the best way to test the waters.
You can explore a little deeper by reading books and online material.
WITCH TIP: Could You Be A Witch?Take this quiz on being a Witch and see if Wicca is right for you. You may find you are being almost a Witch already!
Be aware that there are many different flavours of Wicca. Some are quite rigid and dogmatic. Some are very loose and spontaneous. Some are hierarchical. Others are consciousness of sharing power equally. Some use high drama in their rituals. Others are more casual. And still others are little more than a social gathering for like-minded people.
If one rubs you the wrong way, it's still possible that another will fit better with your personality. Reading various books and websites will help you figure out which is Witch.
Test Drive A Broom
The next step is to test it out. After all, you wouldn't marry someone without going on a date first! Take it for a spin!
At some point, you'll want to participate in a ritual. This is the core spiritual exercise of Wicca.
You can do one on your own, if that's what you'd like. But I recommend participating in a group ritual - or five - to really get a feel for the possibilities of the practice.
You may need to join more than one, in order to find a style that works for you.
(Before attending a ritual, check out these Wiccan Etiquette Tips and Taboos.)
Being in a Witch gathering will clarify things quickly. If you are called to Witchcraft, you will likely know it after being in a few Witch rituals. The feeling of joyful homecoming can't be missed!
Witch, Wiccan . . . What's the Difference?
Some people use these terms interchangeably. Some people call themselves both Witches and Wiccans. Rather like "Christian" and "Catholic," or "Protestant" or whatever.
Other people like to distinguish the two. There is a fine line that can be drawn. Because not all Witches are Wiccans.
The difference is when one practices magick, without the spiritual or religious context, one is a Witch.
Most Wiccans also practice magick, but within the philosophy of Wicca -- that is, within a spiritual framework. They may consider themselves Witches, as well as Wiccans.
Just so you know, on this site, I do use the two interchangeably. Being a Witch and Wiccan myself, I don't notice much difference.
Personally, I don't see the point to practicing magick without a spiritual component. You probably don't either, or you'd be somewhere other than a Wicca Spirituality site.
But just to be perfectly clear: Wiccans are not required to work any magick.
It's just a lot more fulfilling when we do.
What Is The Wiccan Way?
Being Wiccan is more than just magick spells or incantations or something. It is...
a spiritual path,
a way of seeing the world,
a style of living,
a means of personal growth.
The Wiccan Way is like a beginners guide to Wicca Spirituality, and a complement to the Wiccan Rede.
Do You Need A Coven?
There's absolutely no requirement for you to practice in an assembly of Witches. If it works better for you to work alone, by all means do so! Don't let the media hype about covens lead you from your heart's path.
Plus, there are more than two options. Nothing's black-and-white anymore.
You can practice alone and then celebrate holidays with others. You can start your own Circle with friends, one that meets your specific needs. (Learn more about Solitaries, Circles, and Covens here.) Most solitaries find a balance between the two that suits them.
Until you find a group - one that you're compatible with - you will necessarily be practicing Solitary . . . just you and your Goddess. (So you can never practice really alone.)
This is actually a good way to develop your skills and gather power, for when you find a group.
Being around a Witch group, either regularly or occasionally, can be a great spiritual boost. You
Learn new skills,
Get lots of opportunity to practice,
Develop leadership ability,
Practice sharing power, and
Have the companionship of others on the path which is so crucial to any spiritual advancement.
Finding a Coven
Being in a Witch coven is desirable for many Wiccans. The trick is - how do you find one?
The way to find a coven is to find the Witches in your area. See this article on finding a Coven for more information.
How Do You Become A Witch?
Becoming a Witch varies from tradition to tradition. And since every Witch is pretty much a tradition of her own, that's a lot of options!
In other words, there is no paperwork, or initiation, or any other method that can turn you into a Witch.
How you choose to dedicate yourself to the practice of Wicca is entirely your affair.
According to the old school, Gardnerian-descended Wicca, you must undergo a program of study under a High Priest/ess for a year and a day, create your own Book of Shadows, and have a formal initiation into a coven.
Obviously, this doesn't work so well for people who practice as solitaries or in circles. And it's certainly not a necessity for Wicca spirituality.
On the other extreme is the convention of declaring aloud, 3 times, either in front of a mirror or to the Full Moon: "I am a Witch!" And it's done.
Which is best? Whichever is right for you!
The Middle Way
A middle ground is always a good place to stand. Balance is usually closer to Truth than extremes.
The middle way of becoming a Witch is to take the responsibility for yourself. You choose what initiation you want. You decide how to get the training you need.
This is the New Wicca, taking Wicca to its core values: self-determination, and personal relationship with the Divine.
I recommend having some form of initiation. But how you do it is entirely up to you.
Any initiation is really between you and your Gods and Goddesses, so it's not necessary to have one according to any special formula, or given to you by someone else.
Wicca Initiation is all about dedication. It's a pledge between you and the Divine. The how and when and where of it don't really matter. The important thing is that you feel the initiation is appropriate and meaningful.
As for the "rules" and levels of initiation into Witchcraft, don't worry about them unless you enjoy such things. No one else can make you a Witch. No one can insist that you are or you aren't. It's your personal decision.
Still, some training is obviously necessary, or how would you know what to do? There are various courses you can take, online and off. And plenty of good books out there.
What Kind Of Training Is Necessary?
Theoretically, being a Witch requires training for a year and a day under the tutelage of another Witch.
Nowadays, that kind of training is not the norm. And unless you're interested in old-school Wicca, it's not necessary.
If you can find a personal mentor for your journey to being a Witch, that's ideal. But if not, there are "public mentors" in abundance.
Books and workshops offer lots of valuable direction. There are even online courses, if you can't get to any live workshops . . . but it's tricky to learn about moving energy without experiencing it, so make every effort to meet with other witches for training.
You can learn what you need to know from combining various sources and by following your own inner guidance.
What Is A Real Witch?
Being a real Witch is an issue that has plagued the Craft since the Burning Times, but it's not just about the validity of Witchhood. This question pops up in lots of forms, like "a real artist," "a real dancer," "a real writer," "a real singer" . . . .
But it's most fun when it's about the criteria for being a Witch.
Everyone seems to have opinions about what qualifies you for being a Witch. But we are past the point in evolution when anyone can tell you what you are.
There's no such thing as an unreal Witch. There are only sincere and insincere Witches.
When you are sincerely following the Wiccan principles, you are being a sincere Witch.
Living La Vida Wicca
Of course, being a Witch is really about living as a Witch. But that's way too big a topic (and too important) to touch on briefly, so it's got it's own section!
Please check out Living La Vida Wicca for more info on this topic.
Do You Know Your Magickal Name?
Many Witches eventually find a ritual name for themselves.
In some cases it may be offered to you by another . . . one who knows and loves your true soul.
But in most cases a Witch will claim her Craft name.
Note the word: claim. She doesn't usually "make it up," so much as "discover it." To learn how to discover your Wiccan name, click here.
It's not a requirement for Witchcraft, though, any more than prayers at bedtime are a requirement to being a Christian.
What Ritual Tools Do You Need?
From athames to ritual rooms to zazen cushions, ritual tools are an important part of any spiritual practice, and Witchcraft is no exception.
In fact, Witchcraft has taken ritual tool use to a high art form!
What Makes A Ritual Tool Different From Other Tools?
And then there's apparel.
Many religions encourage the utilization of special items, clothing, jewellery, and so on. Prayer shawls and putting on your "Sunday Best" are two legacies of this tradition.
Using dedicated ritual attire can be a boost to your practice. Being in a Witch like outfit helps you transition from ordinary reality to sacred space.
Sacred adornment is found in every culture and era. Just like ritual tools and robes, ritual jewellery can help you reach the levels of consciousness that Witchcraft requires.
It can also add a touch of the sacred to everyday life.
Each type of jewellery has a unique purpose. To find out more about Wiccan Jewellery, click here.
Why do Witches have altars?
A Wiccan altar serves as . . .
A container for your sacred intentions,
A home for the Divine,
A reminder of your Higher Self, and
A handy place to store your magick spells!
Tending an altar can be a wonderful spiritual exercise. Being a witch is about bringing Wiccan spirituality into your daily life, and tending an altar can help do that.
Not only does it help you keep focused (the hard part of any spirituality), but it also has the power to create positive improvement in your life.
There is one more reason many Witches keep an altar. Your altar is also your Wiccan place of worship.
WITCH TIP: The article on Wicca altars has expanded so much, it now has a whole section of its own. Please see Wicca Altar Basics for more about Wiccan altars, and altars in general.
Wiccan Places of Worship
Do Wiccans have churches, or temples? Not so much. Wiccans tend to be more flexible in where they go or gather for worship.
Find out more in this article on Wicca Places of Worship.
A Familiar is an animal companion, who chooses to aid her Witch in magickal work.
Traditionally, or at least in myth, black cats and dogs, ravens and owls are standard Witches' Familiars. But you don't need to limit yourself.
Familiars can be any species, although naturally domesticated mammals are the most helpful magickal partners. High intelligence and a great deal of love for you are the factors that can lead an animal to work in the magickal realms with you.
The most important thing to know about Familiars is that you can't make an animal be yours. Being a Witch's Familiar is a choice the Familiar makes for herself.
The best thing you can do, in order to gain a familiar, is to make yourself worthy. Treat animals with the respect due an intelligent spark of Divinity. Learn to listen to them. Learn to request their help, as from an equal or better- as from a spiritual teacher.
In time, they may be happy to work with you.
Now that you know how to get started, there's just one more thing you need . . . Being a Witch among other Witches, you'll need to know the etiquette around Witchcraft, Wiccan altars, and participating in ritual.
Wiccan Etiquette Tips & Taboos gives you important information on the ins and outs of Wiccan protocol.
With Bright Blessings,