Friday, 9 January 2009

Wicca & Witchcraft: Finding out the basics

A little while ago I got an email from someone who had discovered my blog, asking where they could find out more about Wicca and witchcraft. They said:
"I am very interested in witchcraft but after a friend telling me a few details, I have been very wary & unsure if it's something I can begin to practice myself... Could you please give me tips on where to start & advice?"
I replied, giving them some useful website addresses and also suggested a few books. I thought I'd also put those details on A Bad Witch's Blog because it is the kind of information people new to the craft often ask for.

If you really just want a brief description of Wicca and modern witchcraft, then the BBC's website has a good section on paganism, including Wicca, under Religion and Ethics at www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/paganism/. It offers is this summary:
"Religious witchcraft is not merely a system of magic, but is a pagan mystery religion worshipping Goddess and God and venerating the divine in nature. Its origins lie in pre-Christian religious traditions, folklore, folk witchcraft and ritual magic, but most witches draw their inspiration from the 'Book of Shadows', a book of rituals and spells compiled by of one of Wicca's major figures Gerald Brosseau Gardner (1884-1964)."
If you want to get more than just an overview and basic description of witchcraft and Wicca, you need to look at more specialist websites and probably read a book or two. The American website About.com has a section on Wicca at http://paganwiccan.about.com/ with features called The Truth About Wicca and The Basics of Wicca.

If you want to learn more, particularly if you are thinking of becoming a witch or following a Wiccan spiritual path, then you probably need to read a book or two.

A book that I would recommend for beginners, as well as those just wanting to find out what witches actually do, is Wiccaby pagan teacher Vivianne Crowley, in the Thorsons First Directions Series. Another good book by Vivianne in the same series is Thorsons First Directions - Paganism.
Both of these books are aimed at novices. As well as giving a short description of Wicca and witchcraft as systems of magic and pagan mystery traditions, Wicca also explains how to celebrate the seasonal festival that mark the cycle of the year, offers pathworking meditations to better understand the gods and goddesses witches honour and gives simple details of what a Wiccan ritual entails.

Another good introduction to the craft is Kate West's Real Witches' Handbook. This goes into more detail about rituals, spells and herb lore than Wicca and is aimed at new witches working alone.

Vivianne Crowley has also written a highly detailed description of Wicca, its theory and practice, called Wicca: A comprehensive guide to the Old Religion in the modern world.This is an extremely well-respected book and is ideal for those who are already witches and want to learn more about their craft, but probably offers more information than is necessary for complete novices.

I'll look out for more books aimed at beginners and hope to review them on A Bad Witch's Blog over the coming months.

Links
Wicca: A comprehensive guide to the Old Religion in the modern world
Thorsons First Directions - Paganism
Thorsons First Directions - Wicca
Real Witches' Handbook
http://paganwiccan.about.com/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/paganism/

5 comments:

Donna said...

I also found that Scott Cunningham's "Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner" was excellent when I first started on my path. It includes his Book of Shadows and has excellent advice and guides about meditation, visualisation and a ritual for Self-Dedication. Very handy for those that have no way of joining a coven, or feel they want to go it alone.

There is also a second book by him called "Living Wicca: A Further Guide for the Solitary Practitioner."

I found my copies in Borders for £8.99. Hope this info is useful.

Love and Light

badwitch said...

Donna - Thanks very much for the recommendation. I have heard of those books but not read them myself. I'll look out for them and hopefully write about them on my blog in the future.

Teresa Lynne said...

Great post. But I have to honestly say that of all I read and researched there are still so many unanswered questions for me.

If I choose to take this path, I can't without those answers to my questions.

Great links!!

badwitch said...

I'm happy to answer questions if I can. You can leave a question in a comment on my blog or email me at badwitch1234@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

A good book, and a very interesting read, is The Life and Times of a Modern Witch.

One of the amusing portions of the book deals with the skyclad or not-skyclad debate. I recall one of the people interviewed in the book saying that in the UK, in winter, you'd be best skipping the skyclad option and going for central heating, gloves and a scarf!