There's a lot of information out there for seekers who are interested in Wicca and other forms of Paganism, and it can be a little overwhelming to sort through it all. This 13-step study guide will help you build a basic framework for your studies in the future. Topics include basic concepts, reading recommendations, prayers and deities, the Sabbats and other celebrations, tools of the Craft, and ideas on how to live a magical life every day.
While there's no substitute for hands-on learning, this study guide is designed to give you many of the basic working concepts that you'll need to continue studying in earnest later on. Think of this as the foundation you can build onto in the future. Each lesson will feature four or five topics that you should read and study. Some will be informational, others will be actual rituals and ceremonies to perform. Don't just skim over them—read them thoroughly, and make notes on the points that jump out at you. Take your time when you're going though them, and if you need to, bookmark them to read later.
If you've ever thought you might like to study modern Paganism but didn't know how to get started, this study guide is designed for you.
A final note: learning is a uniquely personal thing. Some people will blaze through all thirteen steps in a weekend, others make take much longer. The amount of time you spend on this is going to vary according to your own needs. Take as much time as you need so you can get the most out of this collection of lessons. You may want to bookmark this page so you can find it easily when you're ready to move on to the next step. Again, I encourage you to take your time. Read over these and—even more importantly—think about what you've read. If there's something you disagree with, or that doesn't make sense to you, that's okay, because it gives you something else to research and learn about later on.
Intro to Paganism & Wicca
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For our first study session, we're going to talk a little bit about just what Paganism and Wicca really are. We'll look at the differences between Wicca, witchcraft, and Paganism (because they really ARE different), as well as the basic concepts of Wicca. We'll also talk about different interpretations of the Threefold Law, one of the most common tenets of modern Pagan religions.
Differences Between Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism
Can you be a Pagan without being Wiccan? Is it possible to be Wiccan but not be a witch? How come some Pagans are Wiccans but others aren't? Well, believe it or not, the three terms really are very different. Witch, Wiccan, or Pagan—how you identify yourself will depend on not only your practices but your beliefs.
Basic Principles and Concepts of Wicca
There are many misconceptions out there about Wicca and modern Paganism, so first, let's talk a little about what it is that Wiccans believe. Here's where we're talking about what it is Wiccans generally believe and practice. We'll also address the issue of what Wicca is NOT.
Ten Things to Know About Wicca
In addition to the basic principles and concepts of Wicca, as we discussed above, there are also some other issues you should be aware of. Most of these are not Official Sacred Tenets of Wicca, but in fact simple common sense rules that you should be aware of.
The Threefold Law
When you first begin studying Wicca, you'll probably hear a lot about the Threefold Law, sometimes called the Law of Threefold Return or the Rule of Three. It's important to understand exactly WHY you're following a rule, if you do in fact decide to follow it. Let's talk about some of the different interpretations of the Rule of Three.
FAQ: I'm New to Wicca... Now What?
That's an excellent question, and one that comes up frequently. Because there's no Official Wiccan Welcome Packet, it's kind of hard to figure out where you're going, if you don't know exactly what the path is. That's part of the goal of this study guide, in fact, to help you figure out what's next.
5 Mistakes New Pagans Make
For people new to Pagan spirituality, there is often a sense of elation and joy - after all, you've finally found that elusive sense of belonging that you've been looking for all this time! However, with that elation and joy sometimes comes bad decision-making rooted in enthusiasm. Here are a few common mistakes that new Pagans - and a few veterans - often make.
10 Not-Great Reasons to Become Pagan
People become Pagans for a variety of reasons. Most of those reasons are pretty good - sometimes it involves a connection to the divine, a sense of coming home, or even just a gradual transformation. However, there are plenty of reasons that aren't so great. If yours appear on this list, you might want to rethink your whole spiritual journey and what you hope to get out of it.
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Read, Study, Learn, and Grow
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As a spiritual path, Pagan belief systems are similar to many others in that to truly understand it—and benefit from it—one really does have to do some work. Like anything else of value, a little effort is typically necessary to attain spiritual growth. However, one problem many folks new to Paganism encounter is that there's a lot of reading out there, and it's hard to tell which books are worthwhile, and which should just be used as firestarters.
Today, we're going to discuss a few authors whose contributions have really made an impact on the changing face of Wicca and other Pagan religions in the past decades. There's a reading list that every beginner should look over - if you haven't read these books, make time to do so at some point, because they're considered classics. Finally, we'll talk about how to start your own study group. After all, if you're going to read all that new material, it's not a bad idea to bounce ideas off other people!
Reading List for Beginners
So you're at the local bookstore, looking at the Pagan spirituality section... and there are literally hundreds of selections. How do you know what to read? This list features thirteen books that every Pagan should have on their shelves.
How Do I Know A Book is Worth Reading?
As more and more books on Paganism, Wicca, and other earth-based spiritual paths become available, readers are often faced with choices about what to read. One of the things people typically find themselves asking is, "How do I know what books are reliable?," followed almost immediately by "Which authors should I avoid?" Learn what makes a book credible and worth reading, and what makes it one that should probably only be used as a doorstop or paperweight.
Authors You Should Know
The ten authors on this list are some of the most well-known authors in the fields of magic, the occult, Paganism and Wicca. While not everyone agrees with everything these authors have written, reading their work will give you a greater understanding of the history of Paganism and Wicca in the modern era.
Start Your Own Pagan or Wiccan Study Group
With a study group, everyone is on an equal playing field and can learn at the same pace. A study group is far more informal than a coven, and offers members a chance to learn about different traditions without making a major commitment to any of them.
NeoWiccan Sacred Texts
Are you interested in some of the popular NeoWiccan texts? From Leland's "Gospel of the Witches" to Gerald Gardner's Book of Shadows, there are a variety of documents you may want to explore if you're interested in following a NeoWiccan path.
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Step 3: Tools of the Craft
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So now we've talked about what it is Wiccans and many other Pagans believe—now it's time to get into the actual meat of what they practice and do. An essential part of modern Paganism is the use of magic to bring about change. This change can be for other people, the community at large, for self-improvement—the possibilities are nearly limitless. Many people find that various tools allow them to better develop their magical ability.
While you don't absolutely have to have every single one of these tools in order to be an effective worker of magic, they do come in handy. A tool helps you to focus your intent. We'll talk about some of the tools most commonly used in some of Pagan traditions, and we'll spend a little time discussing the Book of Shadows, or BOS. You'll learn what a BOS is, what it should contain, and how to set up one of your own.