Being a solitary practitioner in the world today can be somewhat daunting to the beginner. There is always comfort and safety in numbers and many people feel that without a coven or some sort of group to study and practice with they will somehow not be able to achieve the things in their spirituality they wish. Such thinking really needs to be banished from the minds of new practitioners and even ones that have been studying for years, weather it is in a group or alone. Many people’s paths lead them down the solitary road for many reasons. Some have the need for secrecy, some do not have people they can feel comfortable studying with, and some people just feel that they are meant to walk their path in their own way and center on themselves. None of these things should stop someone from fulfilling themselves, from having the relationship they desire with their deities.
Although we firmly believe that it is better to join a Coven and learn properly amongst people of similar minds in love, trust and harmony, some mike like to think about starting on their own for a while to see how they like the Wiccan Path.
Many people still ask the questions “Where will I learn what I need?” “What if I do something wrong?” However, with so many resources out there in the world today all you need to do is go to a book store or turn on a computer to find material to help you along your path. There are many different texts to consult that will take you on various journeys. The Goddess and God or whatever you call your deities certainly do not look down on you for weaving your way though different paths and maybe sometimes stumbling along the way. That is all a part of life.
Of course one must be careful to only read and study information based on truth and not hocus pocus rubbish that is proliferating today. It is also important to be careful of falling prey to unscrupulous people in Wicca only for the money they can get out of you. Actually, there are no fees in good Covens and all share expenses where possible. However, as a Solitary Witch, you might have to pay for various lessons and/or feedback from various sources and that’s where you have to be careful.
Our personal recommendation is to become part of a Coven if possible and take your time as a Solitary Witch to start with. You may then decide to become a fully active member of the Coven, or happily remain as a Solitary, but at least still have the advantage of having a personal Mentor, as all Coven learning is passed along this way. You will also have someone to ask questions to and someone to turn to for advice and any solace in harder times.
Anyway, this section is all about ‘how to be’ a Solitary Witch. To learn and become stronger in who you are and what you do, these four basic steps may be helpful.
These concepts were found in Scott Cunninghams book ‘Living Wicca’. I think they really do a good job of summing up a process that solitaries and even coven members can use to explore their spirituality. These steps can apply to any religion or path you may be on. They do not necessarily have to spring from the Wiccan faith.
When you start on your path you are full of questions and sometimes it can feel a little imposing. There are many good resources you can access by going to your local bookstore, turning on your computer or even talking to other pagans that you may know. A good thing to remember with all material is not to take anything for absolute truth. There will be many different books by many different authors and you may find very contradicting information within them.
Some books may be written for a various tradition and have exact information regarding that tradition. That does not mean that the only way that you can do a ritual or a spell is by following what is in that one book. Something that I have made a point of doing in my studies is to learn as much about all paths as I can and reading as much material as I can. This would include the good and the bad.
You will find material out there that will tell you things that you know in your heart are not true, or some may tell you things that just leave you feeling uneasy or uncomfortable. If you find something like this, by all means look at it and digest and then remember that it is something you do not want to follow or believe.
Something to look for are books written by people who are actually on the path that they write about. There have been books and many websites authored by people who think paganism is something negative or evil. They will tell you all of the horror stories that have ever been associated with the pagan religions and sometimes blatantly lie to you about what the pagan paths represent.
Do not be discouraged if you come across something like this, just absorb it and file it in the back of your mind as an experience and move on to more positive places and material. There are also books that concentrate on negative magick or spells. You will find this type of thing in books that concentrate on spells totally. Remember that spirituality is not about getting something it is about inner peace and fulfillment. If you come across something that seems to contain only things that are self-serving. Use your common sense and pass by it.
Study is something that is a never-ending process. Everyone from the newest practitioner to the person who has been practicing for many years will always be able to find something new and has something to learn. If you come across someone who says they have graduated to the highest level and that they know all, beware. There is so such thing as someone who has mastered paganism. It is a lifelong journey and a learning experience that will never end.
Reading and exploring can take you a long way in your spirituality but the next step you must do is to actually think about what you have read. You need to stop and digest everything that you have come across and decide what information you will keep as valid to what you are doing and what information you need to discard because it is not right for you.
Just because you decide to discard information or certain rituals in your own studies does not make them invalid for others. Remember that not everyone is traveling the same path and that no one has the absolute answer or knows the end place that you get to. Everyone travels their own road and no one is the voice of the Gods.
Thought and questioning go hand in hand. Many times people find it hard to actually question what they have learned. They figure if it was printed in a book or on website then it must be absolute truth as is. In society today we are taught not to question things. Modern schooling frowns on questioning and likes everyone to learn one standard of doing things and one way of thinking.
This type of thought process is not going to work for you in obtaining spiritual growth. What is a good way to cast a circle to one may leave someone else feeling very empty and cold. If you see something and it does not give you that special spark or makes your mind frown, throw it away. File it in your mind as something you will not use.
Do not worry about being “right or wrong” when you go though your mind and ask questions. Most things have no right or wrong answer. There is no right answer to how you feel. It’s only right if it’s right to you. Questions on reincarnation, divination, the aspects of deity, and many other issues should be sorted out in your mind at this point and examined.
Never think you have to come to some absolute answer right away if ever. Sometimes searching for these answers is part of our learning process and can take years questioning yourself to find the answers.
Everyone may come to a point in their religious studies where they seem lost or just can’t find the meaning in what they are doing. Often times turning to prayer will help you sort things out and communicate with your deities finding a way to be closer to them. I find that sometimes I get funny looks when I suggest for people to pray to their deities.
It seems many people think prayer is only a Christian concept. Prayer is merely communicating or connecting with our Gods and an exchange of energy with them, in whatever form that we visualize. Prayers and spells are the same thing done in different ways. Spells are merely prayers with props.
We all do the same thing with prayer, we talk to our deities, and we send energy out and receive it back. There is no right or wrong way to pray. You do not have to do an intricate setup using an altar and tools. You can pray while walking in the woods, while sitting quietly, while holding you child. You can light a candle to help you focus, you can do a full spell or ritual to honor the Gods while you pray. Whatever you choose is ok.
When people pray I find that many times they expect to hear a voice talking back to them, an answer being shouted back through their minds to give them some clear path to follow, some easily defined place to go.
While direct communication with the Gods can happen, it is very rare. If it does happen to you count yourself fortunate and honor what the Gods have told you. Do not expect it as a given that you will just know what to do at the end of praying. Many answers take the form of subtle hints; a leaf falling down to your feet that reminds you of something can actually be an answer to your prayer.
Suddenly finding a new resource or coming across a new pagan shop maybe an answer as well. Sometimes the answers do not come for years or sometimes they may not come at all to your satisfaction. Do not be discouraged. Look within yourself and examine what you would like to accomplish. Many times answers are right in front of us but we are too preoccupied to see them.
This is the place where I find many people hesitating. They have gone through all of the studying and have worked out something that feels right to them but they are afraid to implement it. “What if I do something wrong.” “What if I make a mistake”. I can assure that even if you feel you stumble in a ritual, or do a ritual that may not come out like you wished it to the Gods will not be angry or laugh at your attempts.
Anything you do with heart is not a wasted effort. If you decide to celebrate a holiday in a certain manner and then feel it was not for you, just try it a different way next time. There are no fatal mistakes you can make, no irreversible damage you can do.
The best thing I can say and I do say it over and over is follow what is in your heart. Follow what you feel the Gods are telling you, and remember to Harm None. I say harm none because no matter what path you follow or what Gods you worship that there is always repercussion for negative things. It may be in the form of Karma, the Three Fold Law or many other things but you will always need to keep the balance of nature no matter what you do.
Once you find something that you really feel good about you can write it down in your personal Book of Shadows or a journal so you will not forget it. You can also incorporate new aspects into the same rituals or celebrations and make your learning grow from that.
You will repeat this process thousands of times throughout your life as you learn different things and grow in your own way in your spirituality. Learning and study does not have to be a boring or tedious process. You can make it into whatever you choose. Question everything and always follow your heart and you will never go wrong.