In last week’s blog post, we talked about why it was so important for new witches to focus heavily on the foundational practices of witchcraft and not skip ahead by trying to jump right into more advanced spell work. While it may be tempting to jump right into doing the flashier spells to attract money or love or success, doing so inevitably lands new witches in hot water. After all, if you’re brand new to this world, you have no idea what dangers you could face or precautions that you should take.
Whether they’re skipping the basics out of impatience or out of simply not knowing what to focus on first, many new witches get themselves into completely avoidable situations that they have no idea how to get out of. This is what we’re going to be averting today. You can think of this blog post as a curriculum for the brand new witch. If you don’t know where to start, this blog post is going to answer that question for you. And if you’re impatient and simply want to get on to the more exciting stuff, this blog post will help you get through the foundational parts of the craft so that you can get to the more exciting spells faster while still being safe. Let’s get down to learning exactly how you should go about learning witchcraft.
What Makes These Skills Foundational?
My favorite students are the students who ask why. Not only because I’m a teacher and explaining this stuff is what I live for, but also because thinking about why we’re learning things this way can absolutely revolutionize the way we approach our magic. My approach to learning and teaching has always been to identify the biggest pitfalls and the most difficult aspects of any process and to drill those things first. By learning the hard things first, we’re able to streamline every other part of the learning experience so that once you’ve mastered the few difficult and necessary skills involved in the craft, you’re able to progress through other areas of learning at lightning speed. We do a bit of extra hard work upfront so that once we get past the learning hump, everything else is so much easier to learn.
That is what this learning sequence is. We start with learning the hard things like how to identify dangers, how to take safety precautions, and what to do when your craft throws you a curveball so that as you progress into more advanced forms of magic, you are able to react quickly and effectively to any challenges that arise, allowing you to learn and grow at an incredible pace.
That’s what makes these skills so foundational. Once you’ve mastered these skills, learning everything else and doing any other kind of witchcraft becomes easier by merit of the knowledge you already have. These skills give you a rock-solid base to build your craft on so that you can move forward confidently, knowing that you can handle whatever comes your way. The students who take their time and really focus on deeply integrating these skills into their practice are the ones who end up progressing the fastest and achieving the most with what they learn. That is what I want for you.
All right, it’s time to learn how to learn witchcraft. You should take your time going through each of these steps but keep in mind that you don’t have to achieve 100% mastery before moving on to the next step. You will actually revisit these steps many times throughout your journey into witchcraft. Anytime you pick up a new area of the craft, you will very likely find yourself going through the same steps again in this new field. While a brand new witch will need to focus on the absolute basics of each of these steps, a witch who is picking up plant magic even after several years of practicing other types of magic will still need to explore these basic steps again within the context of plant magic. Cementing these steps into your learning process will serve you not only now in the very beginning of your learning journey, but at every step of learning and growing in your craft over the years to come.
1. Familiarize Yourself With Your Safety Precautions
Lots of students are surprised when this is the first thing that I teach them because, let’s be honest, it’s not particularly magical. That said, it is vital to know exactly what dangers you will be encountering in your craft and what safety precautions you can take to protect yourself and those around you on a very concrete level. At this level, I’m talking about things like fire safety. Do you know how to burn incense in a way that won’t burn your house down? Do you know what surfaces in your house are fireproof? Do you know where your fire extinguisher is? Do you know how to ventilate the room you’re working in to keep yourself, your children, and your pets safe? Even something as simple as a stick of incense can be deadly to small pets like birds and reptiles.
What about your tools and ingredients? Do you know which of your magical ingredients are safe to ingest or put on your body? Do you know which ones you should never apply internally or topically? Do you know which ingredients are toxic when burned? Do you know how to use your ritual carving knife safely? Have you thought about tying back long hair and avoiding wearing loose, flowy clothing when you’re working with candles?
Do you know how to recognize the signs of a rodent or insect infestation, carbon monoxide poisoning, or mold toxicity? These things may seem unrelated to the craft, but these are actually some of the most common occurrences that are misattributed to spirits! All the banishing spells in the world won’t do you any good if you’re actually being slowly poisoned by carbon monoxide.
The nice thing is, this step in the learning process is pretty much one and done. Once you’ve learned about the dangers and you’ve learned about the safety precautions to take, you’re good! You know what you need to know and you can move on. As I said, anytime you enter a new field of witchcraft you may find it necessary to check into these kinds of safety measures for that specific field, but you won’t have to revisit the skills and knowledge you’ve already learned in this area often.
2. Learn Your Magical Hygiene
Your next step is going to be learning about magical hygiene. These are the four magical skills that you absolutely must know to keep yourself safe and healthy in your craft. They are cleansing, warding, grounding, and banishing.
Cleansing gives you the ability to remove any extraneous energies, positive or negative, that may be clinging to you, your space, or your magical tools. This allows you to begin every spell, ritual, and magical practice with a clean slate. You won’t have to worry about stagnant or negative energy screwing up your spells, you won’t have to worry about energetic cobwebs messing up your moods or draining your energy, and you won’t have to worry about minor spirits and entities hanging out in your space. You can think of cleansing like the kinds of small everyday cleaning that you might do around your house to prevent things from sliding into a giant mess that requires a huge cleanup. This is a skill that you will use liberally and regularly and that can prevent a lot of extra work on your part if you keep up with it. I suggest you try multiple methods of cleansing and find one that works best for you.
Warding allows you to create barriers and walls around your space to protect it from outside influence. You can think of this as installing a lock on your front door. You don’t want just anyone waltzing into your home! The same is true on the spiritual plane. You definitely don’t want random spirits, other people’s emotions, and negative energies wandering through your home and magical workspace whenever they like. Putting up wards and maintaining them regularly helps to keep your space safe and secure. Casting a circle is a kind of ward that we use specifically to protect our magical working. Learn when and how to cast a circle and find a warding spell or ritual, either for your home or for yourself personally.
Grounding is a method of equalizing the energy in the body. This is important because many of the things that we do in our day-to-day lives and in our magical practice can pull our energy out of balance, leaving us with too much or too little personal energy. This can lead to a ton of uncomfortable symptoms and is the primary cause of spell drop, or feeling shitty after a spell. Grounding allows us to rectify any imbalances in our energy so that we can perform magic comfortably and safely without throwing ourselves into chaos. Try a couple of different methods for grounding and when you find one that works for you, stick with it. You really only need one or two trusty methods of grounding.
Finally, banishing allows us to more forcefully remove entities and energies that we do not want in our lives. This goes for physical beings as well as spiritual! Knowing how to banish gives you the confidence to perform more advanced spell work, summon spirits, and pursue your magical practice in the knowledge that if anything crops up that you do not want around, you can get rid of it. Find a banishing spell that works well for you and keep the materials for that banishing spell on hand at all times. I typically suggest that witches create a banishing kit for themselves with everything they need to cast their preferred banishing spell and keep it with them anytime they are working magic both at home and out in the field.
3. Read A Lot
Once you’ve got your safety measures and your magical hygiene handled, it’s time to start really diving into your magical learning. This is the “learn more than you do” phase. Read books, watch YouTube videos, take classes, go to witchy meetups, do anything you can to ingest more information about witchcraft. Learn about as many subjects and types of magic as you can. Your primary focus at this point should be exposing yourself to as much information as you possibly can. While you’re doing this, you can absolutely still practice magic and cast spells, but you should be focusing on learning way more than doing.
This period of learning serves two purposes. The first is that you are filling in gaps in your knowledge. Often, the thing that stops us from progressing quickly in the craft is fear of that which we do not understand. By exposing yourself to a wide range of sources and information, you are filling in gaps in what you don’t understand and eliminating the potential for hitting the roadblock of fear. If you know that spell work is unlikely to attract spirits, then you’re much more likely to pursue your spell work more confidently. If you know that spell backlash is unusual and how to prevent it in case it does happen, you won’t be as hesitant to cast the spells that you want to cast.
The second purpose is that this period of learning with abandon allows you to expose yourself to many types of witchcraft that you may not even realize exist right now! I want you to think of the spectrum of magic as a buffet, and your job is to try a little of everything. Read about plant magic, and crystal magic, and ceremonial magic, and folk magic, and different magical traditions, and lunar magic, and astrology, and divination. Dip a toe into anything that even remotely sounds interesting to you. This way, when you’re ready to begin focusing on a specific subject or tradition of witchcraft, you know exactly why you’re choosing it over the other options available to you and can feel confident pursuing whatever it is that you decide is right for you in your craft.
4. Find A Cornerstone
A cornerstone practice in witchcraft is a wonderful thing. This practice is one that helps to anchor your entire magical practice to give you a sense of continuity, involvement in your craft, and stability. Finding a cornerstone practice can take time, so don’t rush and try to nail this down immediately. Try on a few different practices and see what really works for you. A really well-chosen cornerstone practice can make a world of difference in how you feel and interact with your witchcraft.
So what is a cornerstone practice? A cornerstone is any practice that you repeat on a regular basis, and that gives your craft a kind of rhythm and structure. One very common example would be observing the lunar cycles. Holding your ritual for the full moon and the new moon creates a rhythm and a magical structure within the greater context of your life. These practices can be monthly, weekly, or daily, and only you will be able to say which of these frequencies is best for you. Here are a few examples of common cornerstone practices that you might consider.
- Lunar rituals
- Weekly or daily ancestor veneration
- Daily candle manifestation spell
- Daily morning coffee ritual
- A monthly, weekly, or daily tarot reading
- A jar spell that requires weekly feeding or tending
- A candle spell that must be repeated periodically to remain effective
- A weekly cleansing ritual
- A daily energy work or meditation practice
- A monthly group ritual or event that you attend
- Weekly sessions to work on your grimoire
There’s no right or wrong answer here, it’s simply about finding what works best to give you a sense of involvement and continuity in your craft. And this is definitely not an exhaustive list! Feel free to get creative, experiment, and find what feels right for you and your magical practice.
5. Get Goal Oriented
Finally, we’ve reached the stage that most witches want to be at. This is the point where you really start diving deep into whatever it is that you want to focus on in your craft. Whether you have a goal like finding your soulmate, creating abundance in your life, attracting success, or whether you have an interest that you want to follow such as herbal magic, ceremonial magic, or learning about geomancy, this is where you can really start to narrow your focus and home in on what you’re ready to achieve.
Choose your goal or focus, develop an action plan on how you’re going to achieve what you want, and get down to making some magic happen. This is what all of your hard work has been for! We all come to witchcraft to find empowerment in our own lives and to take control of our circumstances. If you follow this learning plan and move step-by-step through the foundations of witchcraft, you will reach the point when you can claim your power faster than you could ever imagine.