I’m a new pagan/wiccan. Where do I start?

So, you've just discovered Wicca or Paganism, and you're excited...but overwhelmed. You've probably gone out to your local bookstore or metaphysical store and looked through lots of books and seen more crystals and tools than you can shake a staff at. There's so many resources online, too, and then there's Etsy and Pinterest and...well, it's hard to know where to start.

When you're just starting out, it's easy to get lost in the complexity of things, or to be confused by all the possibilities and options. It's hard even to figure out whether you're a Wiccan, a Witch, a Pagan, or an eclectic mix of any or all of those. But it's important to realize that regardless of what path you choose, there's a basic foundation that you need to build in order to grow your spiritual practice. And in a way, that makes it easier.​ You don't need to everything at once, or even at all.

We'd like to offer five tips for starting out in your practice, so that you can START, instead of just wondering how to start:

  1. START WHERE YOU ARE: Most pagan/wiccan paths are based in reality, in the rhythms of the seasons and the nature of the elements (or the elements of nature). Of course, tomes have been written about all of this, but for us all, the most important thing is to develop a relationship with your own environment. This will be highly personal for all of us, and is not the kind of thing that can be learned in a book.Using a compass, or Google Earth, find out where the directions are relative to where you live. What do you associate with each one? Is there a natural feature outside? Generally each direction is associated with an element, but these should be meaningful to you. Do you live on the east or west coast, or next to a lake or river such that you might associate one direction with water? Are there specific features around you that you would associate with earth, air, fire, and water?It may just be easier for you to start knowing what your four directions are, and developing a relationship with them as you go.
  2. KEEP IT SIMPLE. Many people will figure you need candles out the ass and incense, and certain crystals, and have a special invocation for the elements and a particular order you do things in. This can get quickly overwhelming, and result in much self-criticism and flagellation when you keep forgetting things or can't find the time to get everything together or have to go hide in the bathroom so people don't think you're a nut. The only thing you need is an intent, and some sacred space. The simpler you keep it, the easier it will be. You can always add tools and paraphernalia as you go. If you wish to do a ritual of any kind, one candle will do fine, and a simple way of "casting a circle" to keep your energy in and the cares of the world out. A simple selenite wand and a smudge stick to clear your space will do. You can honor the elements verbally, or bring in whatever else you need as you see fit.
  3. BE PRESENT WITH YOURSELF. It's easy to feel like you need to absorb all the knowledge in the gerbillion books you see. You don't. There is much knowledge within yourself, and starting a meditation practice to learn how to be present with yourself will stand you well for your future. It doesn't have to take a long time or be complex. The more regular and achievable it can be, the better. A few minutes a few times a week is a good start. Some people find using a timer helpful. It also helps to stare at a candle flame to help focus your mind away from the many thoughts that run through it in daily life.
  4. LEARN ABOUT THE SUN AND THE MOON. Remember that experiment with the orange and the flashlight? Find it on YouTube. It's seriously cool shit. Really, how many of us know and understand how the moon cycles work and where the sun and moon (and yourself) are relative to each other? There's no point reading about cycles of the months and the year when you have no familiarity with the evidence of this around you. Spend some time looking at the sky and identifying where the moon is every night--which window can you see it out of, and when? Where is it when it's full? Can you tell a waxing crescent from a waning crescent? We're talking serious pagan cred here. Get a clue.
  5. GO GRADE SCHOOL WITH YOUR NOTES. You do not need a custom antiqued yak-hide and silkworm-paper book of shadows. You do not need pages printed on parchment with a genuine phoenix quill and the blood of kings. You want something that you don't mind writing in, that you can make now (right now. NOW!) and get coffee stains on when you write about your morning meditation and stick in information you find on the internet straight from the printer. A simple three-ring binder and a hole-punch will do you fine. Later, when you know what you're doing and what you like, you can make something better.

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