Initiation: How to be a Witch

by JoHarrington

Many initiates come seeking a world of witchcraft and spells. The reality of the Wiccan religion may not be the right path for all.

'... if that which thy seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.'

The quickest way to become a witch is to fetch a mirror. Look into that mirror and stare fixedly into your own eyes.

Take a deep breath and ask your reflection, "Can I be a witch please?" Then tell yourself, "Yes."

Welcome to the path of the wise!

(Though, of course, most people would prefer more ceremony.)

The Path of Initiation
The Path of Initiation

How do you Know that You're a Witch?

No human being can or should make that decision for you. Everyone follows their own call into the craft.

The first, foremost and last principle of Wicca is spirit. Without that, nothing else makes sense.

Spirit is all that you are, all that you think, all that you know. It is the fundamental spark of nature that animates your life. It is your passions, your morality, your joy and your sorrow. It is every emotion that you ever felt.

Anyone can be born, then continue through life until they die. What makes this meaningful is what you do in the interim. Good grades, house, job, children, romance and the things that you bought are just the framework around which your story plays out. They aren't what illuminates your existence.

You find your spirit in the moments when you exhale with relief, because every sinew, muscles, craving, flicker of mind and heart is telling you that this is absolutely and perfectly right. Whatever 'this' is.

If spirit is telling you that you are a witch, or that Wicca is the religious path for you, then nothing and no-one in this world or the next can take that away from you. You are a witch and you are a Wiccan; no initiation ceremony is going to change that fundamental fact. All it will ever do is confirm it, and act as your outward announcement of the same to the world.

Poll: Has your spirit told you that you're a witch?

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The Wiccan Path is Not for Everyone

Most individuals may be refused initiation by Wiccan clergy. Mainly it's because they're here for all of the wrong reasons.

I am an Alexandrian High Priestess. My own credentials, lineage and personal Pagan history have already been laid out in my Wizzography.

This status means that I've long been in a position to welcome newcomers into Wicca. But for every person to whom I have administered the Five-fold Kiss, there were many more whom I turned away. This path was, in my opinion, not the correct one for them.

Wiccans are not in the business of evangelism. The growth of our religion does not depend upon numbers. Neither is it an elitist club. As I've already stated, self-initiation exists for those who disagree with my evaluation, as do other covens and other practitioners. I am not the final judge and jury concerning other people's spirituality, only my own.

By far the most common action that I've taken is helping disenfranchised Christians find their God again. You did read that correctly. As a Wiccan High Priestess, I've returned significantly more angry and upset Christians back into the arms of Jesus Christ, than I've welcomed into Wicca.

This once earned me the ire of a parish priest, who furiously told me never to speak with any one of his flock again. I politely informed him that if he was doing his job, then I wouldn't have to do it for him. A week later, after he'd learned what I'd actually said to the young lady in question, he sought me out and apologized. I had helped her rediscover the beauty and peace in her own religion.

Which brings me nicely to the major reason that I'll turn people away. They already have a religion, but it's disappointed them in some way. If they're passionate enough about that perceived betrayal, then they are still part of that path in their heart and mind. Wicca is not there for religious rebound nor revenge against a denomination or deity.

The second biggest no-no for me are those people who are lured here by the promise of spells. They are individuals prepared to use witchcraft to manipulate others. Despite the tabloid headlines and lurid advertisements, Wiccans are not here to make the object of your desire fancy you; nor will we attempt to magically brainwash your boss into giving you a promotion.

An automatic rejection will follow for those whom I believe to be unable to exercise their own judgement on the matter. I would never initiate a baby (or indeed any minor), someone who is unconscious nor any person who appears to be seeking a Wiccan path under duress.

The primary thing that I will look for in an initiate is that Wiccan spirit. If everything in them is screaming, 'I am a witch', then who am I to argue with that?

Poll: Why do you want to be a Wiccan?

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What is Initiation into Wicca?

Hello, God and Goddess, I am a witch and I'd like to report for duty!

Wicca is an active, rather than passive religion. That is to say that no-one is going to tell you what to do with your own spiritual pathway through it. If you rely upon an intermediary between yourself and deity, who spells out the rules in a series of 'thou shalts' and 'thou shalt nots', then Wicca is not the religion for you.

Everyone who initiates into Wicca automatically becomes a priest or priestess. The hot-line between yourself and deity is open to you alone. (We all have our own channels.) With this in mind, an initiation is little more than consciously connecting your spirit to that of the natural world all around you.

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that I used 'deity' and the 'natural world' interchangeably in that paragraph. This is Wicca. For all the fluff and palaver written about our religion, it's possibly one of the most scientific religions out there. Our wheel of the year is based on the solar system. Our herbalism has its foundation in the chemical make up of plants. Our sacred places are part of the landscape itself. Our deities are inherent in the natural elements.

If your spirit is connecting to all of these things, then you have started your initiation already. You have opened yourself up to the rhythms and tides of nature. You are a Wiccan.

Witchcraft Books Which I Recommend

This is my hand-picked reading list for a new initiate. Any of them would tell you all you need to know to begin.

Self-Initiation Versus Coven Initiation

There are as many different routes into Wicca as there are Wiccans. Which one will you take?

There is some debate as to whether anyone can self-initiate into Wicca. The issue is in semantics.

Initiation implies that you are being brought into something that already exists. That is perfectly valid for a coven, as the ceremony brings you into that specific circle.

For those doing it alone, then it's not so much an invitation in, as a voyage of discovery. Nevertheless, for the sake of simplicity, I will continue using that term here.

The benefits of self-initiation lie in moving at your own pace. With your own oaths and vows in place, you will be seeking out the spiritual with no intervention by others on parallel paths. It is between yourself, the natural world and your gods.

The disadvantage is in overlooking knowledge or missing insights, because no-one is there to point them out. It's like learning to read without a teacher defining the words in a book.

The benefits of coven initiation is in receiving that type of guidance. The High Priestess and High Priest will be able to set you exercises, designed to channel your spirit of discovery. Each aspect of the Wiccan circle, philosophy, theology and practice will be explained in context.The other people in the circle will be there to share this exploration with you.

The downside is that each coven comes with its attendant 'thou shalts' and 'thou shalt nots'. They will largely surround keeping the peace and maintaining health and safety. Alternatively, the rules will be in place to help the High Priest and High Priestess lead the coven to their own specifications and beliefs. You might find it too restrictive.

Each coven has its own modes of initiation. If you wish to join one, then search for them in your area and speak to those running it. Witchvox has a huge listing of them.

I am writing this at Imbolc, which is a traditional time for initiation into witchcraft. If you are reading it at the same time, then you are likely not to be the only person vowing to enter Wicca right now. It is well in-keeping with the spirit of the season.

Wiccan Initiation Books and Oils

Welcome, Wiccan, onto your Path

Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways...

If, after reading all of this, you are determined to be a witch, then let me be amongst the first to welcome you onto a highly invigorating, rich and spiritual pathway.

I have not regretted my decision to take my oaths, even after twenty-five years since my initiation into Alexandrian Wicca.

I have met and learned from some fascinating people along the way (some of which served primarily as an example of how not to do things!). Better still, I've experienced the living, breathing energy of nature all around me.

I feel as fired with the passion of my convictions now, as I did receiving the Five-fold Kiss from Huw in the early 1990s. This is how I know that I am a Wiccan. It feeds my spirit and it should be doing the same to you too. If it is, then congratulations and I'm thrilled for you that you're joining us.

'... for behold, I have been with thee from the beginning: and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.

Blessed be.'

 

Wiccan First Initiation Cards

Welcome somebody into the Craft with these cards for a First Degree in Wicca.
Updated: 06/06/2014, JoHarrington
 
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JoHarrington on 02/04/2012

I'm glad that it resonated with you. I send my most positive energy right back at you.

katiem2 on 02/04/2012

I hung on your every word, very well written spoken and delivered. I'm a new fan and off to read more. I send my most positive energy. Katie

JoHarrington on 02/04/2012

You are very welcome, Andy, and I'm glad that you found my article a good read. :)

I know Scott Cunningham's works very well. He has some decent insights. I do reiterate my recommendation of Rae Beth's stuff. It's not Wicca per se, but who needs covens, when you have nature itself?

Wicca doesn't offer an either/or religion. You could still incorporate Judaism alongside Wicca, without any problems from our end. I know several Christian Witches, who managed to merge their two spiritual paths very successfully.

Good luck on your passage through life!

AndyGerenraich on 02/04/2012

This article is very refreshing. It's encouraging yet remains objective. I'm drawn to Wicca because of the amazing people I've met in that community and the value of nature. I'm Jewish and believe that all religions are "true," for whatever that's worth. I have a book called "Earth Power" by Scott Cunningham that I like to incorporate into my spiritual practice. The book you recommended, "Hedge Witch," looks fantastic! Thank you for this thoughtful and inspiring article.

JoHarrington on 01/30/2012

I'm glad that they're illuminating Wicca a little for you. :)

There have been many horror stories over the years from families learning that one of them has become a Wiccan. Fortunately mine took it in their stride.

BrendaReeves on 01/30/2012

I love these articles. It's very interesting. If I told my family I was becoming a witch, they'd have me committed.

JoHarrington on 01/29/2012

You're very welcome. :D if you have any questions, please shout up and I'll answer them (or do my best to answer them, if they relate to a different Wiccan tradition).

Good luck on your journey, wherever it takes you. <3

Angel on 01/29/2012

I am so very interested in this. I love your articles as they really help me to understand a lot. I really need to read more and understand a lot more before I can say that this is something I am ready for. I am glad I "met" you so I can learn a lot through your writings and your recommendations of books etc. Thank you.

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