The Courage to Leap: Beginning a Magical Practice

by Anna

Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Thorn Mooney, author of the new Traditional Wicca.

I can remember my very first ritual. It was a simple celebration of Samhain, more than a year after I’d picked up my very first book about Wicca. I was sitting on the porch, handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, the sun was going down, and suddenly I could just feel this inexplicable, magical push. It was Halloween! I wanted to be a witch! I had to do something about it!

I don’t really know what took me so long. I guess I was nervous, and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t mess things up. I felt like I needed to read a lot, study, and figure out what I was doing before I wandered into something I couldn’t handle. All the books I’d read said that magic was serious. Wicca was a religion. I needed to be respectful and cautious. What if I didn’t do it right? What if I angered some deity or made myself look silly?

It sounds a little ridiculous in retrospect, but over my years of writing, teaching, and hanging out in Pagan spaces, I continue to be amazed by the number of people who have similar experiences. Getting started—performing that first spell or ritual, saying that first prayer, starting that first magical project—is really, really hard sometimes. A lot of newcomers wait (sometimes for years) before building up the courage to actually practice, whether they’re aspiring Wiccans, witches, magicians, or devotional polytheists. There’s even a popular myth that still floats around that states that you can’t really be a witch until you’ve studied for a year and a day (I tell you more about where that idea comes from and how people get it wrong in my new book, Traditional Wicca: A Seeker’s Guide).

The message to beginners is subtle but clear: Don’t dive in! You might get it wrong! We’re all watching if you screw up! Become an expert first!

Spoiler alert: you are going to screw up. But it’s going to be okay! Great, even. And you can’t become an expert without screwing up. A lot.

If you’ve been on the fence for a while and are nervous about taking the leap, I’m here to give you a shove. Do the thing! Whatever it is. Try the spell, cast that first circle, perform that ritual, say hello to that god or spirit. The worst thing that can happen at this point (provided that you’re taking all those mundane precautions like fire safety and not running off alone into the woods at night) is that it just won’t work the way you hoped it would. In fact, it almost surely won’t. But what it will do is give you courage to do it again. For many beginners, the fear to try will evaporate after that first hurdle. Mine sure did.

You don’t need permission and you don’t need to already be an expert. All you need is courage.


Our thanks to Thorn for her guest post! For more from Thorn Mooney, read her article, “5 Misconceptions About Traditional Wicca.”


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