Witchcraft

Let’s Talk Witch – 5 Omens Every Witch Should Know

What is an Omen?

 

For many practitioners of various magical traditions, there is a tendency to look for and find symbolism in everything, particularly in aspects of nature. Often, these symbols are interpreted as omens.

What is an omen? Depends on who you ask, but in general, an omen is viewed as a sign from the natural world that delivers a message of some sort. Typically this message is seen as an indicator of coming good or evil events. It’s not quite the same as divination, which is when someone deliberately attempts to foretell what’s coming.

Animal Omens
In many cultures, animals can indicate significant events to come. This may be based on numbers of animals, behavioral patterns, or other indicators.

Serpent Magic
While a lot of people are afraid of snakes, it’s important to remember that in many cultures, serpent mythology is strongly tied to the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Did you know that in the Ozarks, there is a connection between snakes and babies? Or that in Scotland, a snake emerging from its hole signified the beginning of Spring?

Frog Magic
Frogs and toads feature prominently in magical folklore in many societies. These amphibious critters are known for a variety of magical properties, from their ability to help predict the weather, to curing warts to bringing good luck. Let’s look at some of the best known superstitions, omens and folklore surrounding frogs and toads.

Rabbit Magic
Spring equinox is a time for fertility and sowing seeds, and so nature’s fertility goes a little crazy. The rabbit — for good reason — is often associated with fertility magic and sexual energy. Spring is a great time to focus on some of that rambctious energy — let’s look at how rabbit symbolism can be incorporated into magical workings.

Bird Omens
Birds have featured prominently in augury and divination for centuries. Not only are birds important, but specific types of birds represent different aspects of magical prediction.

Ravens and Crows
The crow and raven appear in folklore going back to early times. Sometimes, they’re seen as harbingers of doom, but more often than not, they are messengers — what are they trying to tell us?

Owl Magic
Owls appear in legends and myths going back to the ancient Greeks, who knew the wise old owl was the symbol of their goddess Athena. However, owls are often associated with prophecy and bad tidings. Read about some of the ways different cultures viewed owls in folklore and magic.

Weather Omens
In many magical traditions, weather magic is a popular focus of workings. The term “weather magic” can be used to mean anything from divination and forecasting to actual control of the weather itself. When you consider that many of today’s folk magic customs are rooted in our agricultural past, it makes sense that an ability to foretell or change weather patterns might be considered a valuable skill.

Cloud Formations
Some people believe that cloud formations can be omens in and of themselves. Have you ever looked at a cloud and seen something that gave you a sign? Called aeromancy, the use of clouds for divination is a popular form of augury. Rain clouds can symbolize darkness and gloomy feelings, but on a sunny spring day, they can be positive symbols of cleansing.

Other Natural Omens
Omens and signs can be found in all aspects of nature. Take the time to look around you and search for patterns – often these patterns will make themselves known to you if you just pay attention.

Tree Omens
Trees are often considered magical and mystical anyway, so it’s no surprise that they sometimes send us messages. If an oak tree drops an acorn on you, it’s said to be good luck – the acorn is a symbol of strength and power.

Butterflies
Some people believe that butterflies are harbingers of guests to come. A dark color butterfly indicates a visitor related to your job or career, but a brightly colored one means a visitor having to do with your love life is on the way.

Household Omens
Many parts of the world are rich in their own unique traditions – and that includes the interpretation of omens. In Appalachia, for instance, many omens are rooted in household superstitions.

If you spill salt, throw some of it over your left shoulder. This will keep the Devil away – because he stands on your left side.

Don’t light three cigarettes from the same match – it’s bad luck for the third person (this omen may have originated with the “three on a match” superstition of World War I).

If the squirrels start gathering nuts early, it means winter is going to be harsh.

Everyone knows a broken mirror can bring seven years bad luck – but if you touch one of the shards to a tombstone, or throw the pieces in a fire and then bury them, you can lift the curse immediately.

Spilling milk on the floor will make your cows dry up.

New brooms should only be used to sweep dirt out a house after they’ve been used to sweep something good into it.

Source:

By Patti Wigington
Paganism/Wicca Expert
Article Found On & Owned By About.com

 

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WOTC Extra – Belief, Faith and Doubt

Belief, Faith and Doubt

 

While I do use these words and concepts from time to time, I’d like to explain their place in Spell crafting. ‘Faith’ I tend to use to describe a religion or religious/ spiritual path. Belief and faith (in other usages) are like opinions in that they’re an idea you have about something. The use of the words suggest that there is a truth that you don’t know but this is what you think it is. “I believe in a higher power but I have faith in humanity”.

Belief and faith are a lot like hope, you hope it will work, you believe it will work, you have faith that it will work, but you don’t know for sure. In Spell crafting, you need to have an almost arrogant attitude of knowing your magic is going to work. There is no room for doubt. Belief and faith removes the absolute certainty of knowing which will lead to doubt.

Doubt destroys any magical working. Doubt becomes failure. As you are the magic and it comes from you, any doubt will first weaken your resolve and then suggest other possible outcomes. This happens in everything, not just magic. You attract what you think about so if you’re busy thinking, “this might not work, it could cause more bills to arrive” then this is most likely what will happen. That nagging voice of doubt quickly becomes all that you are able to focus on. It wears away at your purpose until it becomes the purpose.

The Common Sense Spell Book
Debbie Dawson

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Let’s Talk Witch – The Ethics of Witchcraft/Wicca

The Ethics of Witchcraft/Wicca

Much has been written about magical ethics. Usually a list of clear dos and don’ts and thou shalts. The Wiccan Rede—“ An it harm none, do as thou will”— and the three-fold law—“ what you do comes back to you three-fold”— get bandied about as being the ethical pillars of Witchcraft. As I’m not Wiccan I don’t subscribe to these ideas. In the 1950s Doreen Valiente wrote a lovely poem called The Wiccan Rede. It drew on many sources including a poem from Aradia: Gospel of The Witches by Charles Leland, some Aleister Crowley material and older teachings. The last part, often referred to as the Rede is the well-known “an it harm none, do as thou will” although the whole thing is often reworded to mean “do whatever you like as long as you’re not hurting anybody”. I believe that in a time when witchcraft was being redefined and made out to be something nice and benevolent, it may have been important to defuse outside ideas about what witches do and make them appear “good” by instilling a moral code of sorts. The Wiccan Rede only applies to Wiccans however, not all witches or magicians.

Many following the Rede try to never think ill about anyone or use it as a reason to become vegetarian. The problem I see is that “harm none” includes yourself. Some blood and body types aren’t suited to a vegetarian diet. In addition every breath or step you take on the earth may be harming small creatures and organisms. Does this mean that we only apply “harm none” to those creatures we choose? If so, who decides what can or cannot be harmed? What is the criteria for a bug or organism to be added to the “none” category?

Harm None is also the wrong part of the rede to be focused on. Of the eight word shortened version, Harm None is the least. Will is the important part, this is discussed further later on.

The other thing about the Rede is that the word ‘rede’ means advice. Not rules, not law and not even guidelines. Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Code has more credence. The Rede is more akin to your Auntie pulling you aside to talk about boys (or girls). She’ll tell you what she thinks you should do, she may even tell you some of her horror stories. Her advice may be valid and sound but in the end the decision to act on her advice is all yours.

The three-fold law is, in some form or another, the golden rule in every culture. In Christianity the Bible states “as you sow, so shall you reap” and “an eye for an eye”. The Hindu and Buddhist faiths know it as Karma. Although Karma is not the cosmic instant reward and punishment system that New Age thought promotes it as, if you want to understand Karma, learn about it from the Hindi. Modern colloquialism expresses it as “what goes around, comes around”. However it is referred to, by whichever culture, it speaks of a consequential result for what you do in life.

In Witchcraft the three-fold part is often misunderstood. I read a blog post about how you should give money to a witch because of their three-fold law. If you give them $ 10, you’ll get $ 30 back. In the same vein if you do something bad it will be three times worse for you. The mistaken belief is that the three fold will come back at you three times when for those who believe in it, it’s on three different levels— Mind, Body and Spirit. I’ve found that there is often (but not always) a backlash. In physics— every action has an equal and opposite reaction, in Witchcraft it’s not necessarily as simple as it’s made out to be. There is also a theory that the threefold law was introduced as a way to keep beginners and learning witches safe from themselves.

It’s frequently stated that you shouldn’t interfere with another’s will. That you can’t or rather shouldn’t do a spell that will affect another without their permission. This is often said by people who then send healing energy all around the place without being asked for it and don’t see their own hypocrisy. I personally believe that it’s rarely a good idea to cast a spell regarding another person. Even if it’s “for their own good”. Who are you to decide what is best for another person? Who died and made you a God? They may have a life lesson going on, something that they need to learn from or learn how to cope with in order to grow. By ‘helping’ them you may in fact be harming them by preventing their own personal growth. It’s also a slippery slope, once you start ‘helping’ people, you can’t stop and it’s a short step away from interfering. This is different from binding and cursing but we’ll delve into that later.

Unless you belong to a faith that has its own ethics, you need to figure out what is ethical or not for yourself. Many people will assume that as a witch, you follow their system, or that witches are automatically Wiccan or Pagan and that you must subscribe to their own personal moral code in order to call yourself that. When it comes down to it, you need to ignore all the “know-it-alls” and be true to yourself. If you do ‘bad’ things there may be a backlash, but sometimes it’s worth it. Only you can know that for sure.

The Common Sense Spell Book
Debbie Dawson

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Information Coven Life Website, Novice Witch Mentoring & Litha Online Coven Gathering

Coven Life website has a new web address, covenlife.co  Lady Beltane is still accepting people who want to become students/novice witches and  learn about The Craft. I am also continuing lessons with novice witches I already have. There is also a new chat room link going to a different chat room then where we had been meeting. To find out more about this click on the link in either the banner for Class Meetings or Coven Gatherings.

The coven gathering for Litha is cancels because I did not have enough time to prepare a ritual for it and ask people to help by doing parts of it. The reason I didn’t have the time was because of my mother being hospitalized and having major surgery besides working and other family commitments. We will be gathering for Lammas. More information on that will be available closer to the holiday. The gathering will start at 6:00 PM CT in the new Coven Life chat room.

Any questions about the Coven Life website, studying with Lady Beltane or the online coven gatherings should be sent to ladybeltane@aol.com

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Let’s Talk Witch – Do spells really work?

Let’s Talk Witch – Do spells really work?

Spells really work. Why? Because there is magic in everyone, each person, everyone creates their own reality. We are the creators of our universe of our world. We create magic when we wish for something or intend something to happen. We create magic by imagining what we want and holding it in our hand even if we don’t have it yet. For example, you may want to have a new car, or you may want to attract your soul mate or whatever you with to yourself. So you think about it first, and if you believe, and I mean really believe with unwavering faith then you get your wish. It is as simple as that.

Some folks will say that they tried a spell once and it did not work for them. My grandmother would have told them they didn’t believe in the spell itself, or even in the “wish.” Those who make a wish and believe it will come true, always comes true.

Now in the 21st century, it has become scientifically proven fact that “thoughts become things.” Quantum physics say that we draw thing to us, good and bad things through the law of attraction so of course a spell would work, even if we give it a scientific explanation. Magic has always been here and it has always worked.

Spells are the conscious desire and the mixing of elements with incantations, like following age old formulas much like your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, in order to have a desired effect come into being. Spells tap into the universe, which we are all part of, to aid in a desire, or a powerful intention. Spells also tap into your psyche. Spells are very simple rituals to make something happen in your life. I choose to make good things happen for me.

Casting spells is an age-old skill and talent used by many, but known to few. In casting a spell you frequently need to have the support of a god or goddess or universe to give you the ‘oomph’ you need. Picking the right deity is for some the first step. I choose the universe because everything I am, everything I use in all my spells are made of the same elements as the universe. So to me, a spell, is 10 times more powerful when I use the universe to help me manifest a desire or intention. You can call the universe anything you want, universe, spirit world, God, Goddess, you choose. I choose to call the universe God. My gypsy grandmother, Antolina’s deity was the Virgin Mary. Whatever you identify with best is what works best.

It is important to always be grateful for what has been given you, for what you have manifested in your life already. In order for a spell to work, a prayer of thanks for all you have should come first. Even if the only thing you have to be thankful for is the clothes on your back. The ancient gypsies were always grateful for what they had since many lived a “hand –to-mouth” existence. Therefore, the very food found that day was always appreciated.

Once you master the art of gratitude, THEN and only THEN can you truly master magic. The first step in invoking a magical way of life is Intent. Intent is the beginning of all Spells- the consciousness of what it is that you want or need help with, even how to get rid of something. It is the intent that helps with the focus and the desire to create the true magic and the start of what you want. Having too many desires or intents only clouds the ideas of what is it that you truly want. Is the spell that you consider casting realistic? To spend your magical energy on casting a spell or to get a job that you are unqualified to perform is not the best way to have a spell become real. Be pragmatic and be methodical. It is the same with any spell; you cannot cast a spell on someone to love you with whom you have had little contact. It just is not a strong enough connection.

Not only that, we are all given the gift and power of FREE WILL. NO magic can MAKE someone love you and dump his wife or girlfriend. Because he has his own power, his/ her own free will to choose to either like you or not. However, you can conduct a spell to change something within you. In other words you cast a spell to make someone notice YOU, or make them see qualities in you that are good for them, you can cast a spell on yourself, to make yourself more attractive to the person you wish to be with. Then you let it go into the universe and allow the universe to unfold the way it’s supposed to.

The next step in magic is to banish. You cannot create something new unless the old is taken care of. Clean the area where you will perform the spell. Look at it as performance art and you need a clear stage. Get rid of all that clutters your mind, heart and soul. Make your banishing internal. Do not perform magic with a full stomach, heart, or a stuffed soul. You need to be rested and tranquil. Your feet planted firmly in the astral plane where magic takes place. This is where you need to clean the space. Where you do your meditation or your holy spot in your home or garden. One of the key elements in casting a spell is to get a feeling of centeredness. It is not to your advantage to be thinking of your grocery list or your pile of things to do when you are ready to cast a spell for something like ‘health and well being.’ Keeping focused and in tune is the first step in the art of casting a spell.
Ancient Magick for the Modern Witch
Gypsy Raven

 

 

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Warning Signs In Prospective Covens

Warning Signs In Prospective Covens

Red Flags to Watch Out For

So you think you’ve found a group or coven that might be the right group for you. Great! Ideally, a coven will allow you to attend a few open meetings, in which you can observe the goings-on and meet all the members, without intruding upon the secrecy of any oathbound ceremonies or rites. After attending a series of open meetings – usually three, but that varies from group to group – members of the coven will vote on whether or not membership should be offered to you.

Remember, though, there are a few things you should watch out for in any prospective group.

  1. Members that don’t seem to get along with each other. If you have a group of eight people, and four of them are snarking at one another constantly, it may not be a coven you want to be a part of. They may be offering you membership in hopes that you’ll take sides, and you’ll find yourself caught in the middle of a squabble that existed before you even came along. Stay away.
  2. Covens whose ideas strike you as silly or foolish. You want to be part of a coven, but if you think worshiping a pink sparkly dragon or wearing Star Trek uniforms to Sabbats is goofy, then don’t join covens that have those requirements. If you don’t genuinely believe in the coven’s principles, it’s not the right group for you, and both you and the other members will gain nothing from your membership. Likewise, if the group’s requirements include things that make you uncomfortable, like ritual nudity, then this may not be the group for you. Find one that more closely aligns with your existing beliefs and comfort level.
  3. Leaders who are on a power trip. If the High Priestess (HPs) or High Priest (HP) is the only one who knows all the secrets, and is the only one who will EVER be privileged enough to know all the secrets, then they’re on a power trip. These are the people who like to boss coven members around, they don’t let any one member have too much information, and the coven is for their own personal gain. Don’t bother joining, because you’ll be as miserable as everyone else.
  4. Leaders who clearly don’t know what they’re doing. When you ask your prospective coven’s High Priestess how long she’s been Wiccan, and she tells you “three months,” it’s time to bail out. There’s no set time on learning, but someone who’s only been studying for a little while simply does not have the experience to lead a coven or teach others. Use your best judgment here. Keep in mind there’s nothing wrong with being a newbie and leading a study group or informal get-together, but someone who has only a short period of experience is probably not qualified to do all of the other things that coven leadership demands.
  5. Covens that actively seek teens as members. Few reputable covens will accept anyone under the age of 18 as a member unless the teen’s parent is a member of the coven – and even then, it’s iffy. This is for a variety of reasons. Some covens practice skyclad – nude – and it’s completely inappropriate to have naked adults in front of someone else’s child.

    Also, a coven that accepted minors would be setting themselves up for huge legal liabilities in that the teaching of religion is the job of a child’s parents – it would be the equivalent of a Christian minister preaching to your child without your permission.

    In the event that a coven member has a child that is part of the group, the minor may still be excluded from some parts of coven practice, particularly those that include ritual nudity. Having a parent in the group is generally the only time it is acceptable to have a minor practicing with adults.

    6. Covens that demand that you have sex as part of your initiation. There are people out there who use coven leadership as an excuse for deviant or predatory behavior, and the fact is that if there’s any kind of sexual initiation involved, you may want to reconsider this group. People who say you’ve got to participate in sex with the HP or HPs (or both) in order to be a member may well be looking for their own gratification, not your spiritual growth.

    Yes, many Pagan religions are fertility religions, but there is an imbalance of power between a High Priest/ess and an newbie that makes sexual initiation a subtle form of coercion.

    That having been said – it’s not uncommon for some covens to work skyclad, which is not sexual in nature. It is also not unheard of for a couple within a coven to perform a sexual act as part of a ritual; however, it is usually an established couple (people who are in a relationship with one another already) and the act is nearly always performed in private, rather than in full view of the rest of the membership. You do not have to let ANYONE violate you sexually to be Wiccan or Pagan. Anyone who tells you differently is not interested in helping you learn, they’re just trying to get into your pants. Move on.

    7. Covens that demand you give up your money, family and friends. While it’s fine to contribute a love offering to a coven’s petty cash fund, if the High Priest expects you to give him your monthly paycheck, look elsewhere. No reputable coven will encourage you to forsake your loved ones, or tell you that the coven comes before any and all other obligations. A group that does this is not a coven, it is a cult. Stay away.

    8. Groups that ask you to break the law or cause harm to others. A Wiccan coven is not Fight Club – you do not have to blow up a building, beat someone up, or steal stuff to get in. Any group that requires its members to participate in illegal activities – and this includes drug use – is not a coven focused on spiritual growth. Any coven that demands animal sacrifice from its members is probably not a group you want to become involved in (bear in mind that some traditions of Santeria and Vodoun do include ritual sacrifice, but this is a rare exception and it is usually performed only by high-ranking members of the tradition, such as members of the priesthood).

    Certainly, the decision as to whether or not you are willing participate in negative behavior to be part of such a coven is entirely up to you, but understand that once you become involved in this kind of group, you risk arrest and possible jail time.

 

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How to Find a Coven In Your Area

How to Find a Coven

Looking for a Pagan coven or group? Awesome! Here are some ways you can find one.

First of all, you need to understand that there are many different types of groups. You’re not going to fit in with every one of them, and you’re not going to feel comfortable in every one of them. They’re not all going to feel comfortable with you. That’s part of life, and it’s part of the seeking process. Some groups may have a dynamic that just doesn’t work for you – if you’re a male Wiccan on a Celtic path, then an all-female Greek Reconstructionist group is not the place for you.

How do you find a coven in your area? We all have fantasies of being out and about, probably at the local Ren Faire or Ye Local Olde Witchy Shoppe, and we bump into a wise-looking soul with a giant pentacle around her neck, who promptly invites us to join her coven of the Ancient Ones.

It’s not going to happen.

However, what you can and should do is network with other Pagans. Get out to the places they congregate – bookstores, psychic fairs, SCA events, coffee shops, Yoga classes – and meet some people.

Eventually someone may mention to you that they are part of a coven, and if they feel you would be a good fit, they might eventually get around to asking their High Priestess (HPs) if they can invite you to an open meeting.

Because many Pagans and Wiccans are still “in the broom closet”, most covens, temples or groves do not advertise their presence. Networking is the key here — and you may have to spend some time making it known that you’re looking for a group to join. This process is often referred to as “seeking,” and after spreading the word that you’re a Seeker, you may be approached by a local group.

You can also meet fellow Pagans and Wiccans through networking websites, such as Witchvox or Yahoo Groups – but be sure to read the Internet Safety Precautions article for information about meeting someone in person that you’ve gotten in touch with online.

Tips:

Some covens are limited to males or females only, others are specifically for gay Pagans, and some are for families and married couples and exclude single members. A coven you’re interested in may already have what they consider their ideal number – sometimes thirteen but frequently less – and they may tell you to wait until someone leaves before you can join. Accept this, and move on. Don’t take it personally. Ideally, you’ll be able to find a coven in which you can get along with all the existing members, and you won’t have a clash of personalities or philosophies.

Also, realize that a coven is like a small family. Many Wiccans are closer to their coven-mates than they are to their own siblings. Just because you’ve found a coven doesn’t necessarily mean you are guaranteed acceptance. Coven membership is a two-way street. Wiccan covens do not actively recruit new members, and no matter how uber-witchy you think you may be, if one member of the coven has a problem with you – justified or not – it could keep you from becoming a member. Take the time to ask questions when appropriate, and you can make an informed decision in the event that membership is offered to you.

 

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5 Tips for Solitary Pagans

5 Tips for Solitary Pagans

In many modern Pagan belief systems, there are far more people who practice as solitaries than there are people who have joined covens or established traditions. Why is this? It’s partly because most people who want to learn about Paganism develop the interest long before they meet a coven or trad that they’re interested in joining. It’s also because even if you decide you want to be part of a coven or group, it’s not always easy to find one.

Wiccan covens and Pagan groups don’t exactly have a listing in the Yellow Pages, so you may have five covens right up the street from you, and you’d never know it.

Certainly, practicing as a solitary can have its rewards. After all, you can make your own guidelines and follow your own set of ethics. Worship can be done at your convenience, rather than according to a schedule dictated by others. As a solitary, you’re really under no obligation to anyone but yourself and your gods. Many people spend their entire lives practicing as solitaries, and never feel a need to join a coven or group.

Occasionally, you may find some drawbacks to practicing as a solitary Pagan or Wiccan. You might sometimes feel alone, like you have no one to network with or share ideas with. You may at some point feel like you’ve stagnated — it’s hard to figure out what the next step is if you don’t have someone to compare notes. Sometimes, it’s nice to just get feedback from like-minded people — someone who can help you when you’re wondering about what to do.

If you’ve decided to practice as a solitary — either temporarily, or in the long-term — here are some tips on how to have a successful experience:

  1. Try to establish a daily routine. It’s easy to let your studies go by the wayside if you’re all by yourself, so establishing a daily routine will help you keep on task. Whether your routine includes meditation, reading, ritual work, or whatever, try to do something each day that helps you work towards achieving your spiritual studies.
  2. Write things down. Many people choose to keep a Book of Shadows, or BOS, to chronicle their magical studies. This is important for a variety of reasons. First, it allows you to document what you’ve tried and done, as well as what works and doesn’t work for you. Secondly, by writing down your rituals, prayers, or spellwork, you’re laying the foundation for your tradition. You can go back and repeat things that you find to be useful later one. Finally, it’s important to keep track of what you do magically and spiritually because as people, we evolve. The person you are now is not the same person you were ten years ago, and it’s healthy for us to be able to look back and see where we were, and how far we’ve come.
  3. Get out and meet people. Just because you’ve chosen to practice as a solitary doesn’t mean you should never come into contact with other Pagans or Wiccans. Most metropolitan areas — and a lot of smaller communities — have informal Pagan groups that get together regularly. This offers solitaries a chance to network and chat with each other, without having to form specific organized groups. Take advantage of resources like Witchvox and Meetup to see what’s in your area. If there’s nothing around you, consider starting a study group of your own for like-minded folks.
  4. Ask questions. Let’s face it, we all need to start somewhere. If your read or hear something and you want to know more about it, ask. If something isn’t clear, or contradicts something you’ve already read, ask. Don’t accept everything at face value, and remember that just because one person had a particular experience doesn’t mean that you’ll have an identical experience. Also, keep in mind that just because you read something in a book doesn’t necessarily mean it’s valid — learn to ask whether a resource is worth using or not. Don’t be afraid to be a skeptic sometimes.
  5. Don’t ever stop learning. Ask other people in the Pagan community — either online, or in real life — for recommendations about books and other resources. If you read a book that you enjoy, check the back for a bibliography and see what other books that author suggests. Remember that learning can take place by reading, but it can also develop from personal experience, and from speaking with other people involved in Paganism.

 

 

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