Tips For Solitary Witches
written by Jim Garrison
There are a lot more self-initiated Witches out there than practically any other variety. While it is a valid and legitimate spiritual path, self-initiation also poses a few unique challenges to those who would seek the Old Gods on their own. If you are contemplating self-initiation and the building of your own spiritual practice based on the Wiccan model, here are some tips to help make the process go a bit more smoothly.
1. YOU HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO INITIATE YOURSELF AND TO FOLLOW YOUR OWN, UNIQUE PATHS TO THE GODS.
No one has a monopoly on wisdom, nor on the Mysteries. Anyone who approaches the gods with sincerity, respect, and integrity can and will discover their own way to commune with these essential forces of nature. It requires creativity, persistence, and determination — it is a challenging path to take.
2. CLARIFY YOUR INTENT.
Ask yourself “Why am I doing this?” It is wise that you examine your motivations — pursuing such an intensive path as solitary Wicca is not something to do on a whim, nor is it a “fun” hobby. It’s work, and plenty of it. You don’t get to take advantage of someone else’s previous efforts, except for what you can get out of books. You have to build your own foundation, and establish a mythos and context within which to work. You can just declare yourself a member of your own tradition, but what will it mean?
3. GATHER YOUR RESOURCES.
You need to establish a set of ground rules — guidelines for what you want and what you plan to do. This will require reading everything you can get. Try to read a diversity of authors, and don’t just read about Witchcraft — broaden your horizons as much as possible.
4. IF YOU FIND SOMETHING THAT YOU LIKE, ADAPT IT.
Don’t just lift it out of its context. Once you have a basic framework within/upon which to work, rewrite everything to fit your emerging vision. Don’t be worried about perfection — you will re-write things many times as you develop and grow. The more you learn, the more you’ll be able to
enhance, refine, and desire to modify your first attempts at a ritual. When members of a tradition refer to basic things such as their oaths, the creed of their sect, whatever degree they may have been initiated into or whatever, these things all mean something within that tradition. When you are self-initiated, it’s all up to you what it all means to you — in as far as it applies to you and you alone.
Develop your own unique versions of those elements of the Craft that you choose to adopt. It’s perfectly fine to toss out all the old stuff and start out on your own path. If you do, there’s a lot of baggage to deal with, and you might not want to toss the baby out with the bath water.Take some time and reflect upon these things. Make no hasty decisions. Seek to understand your impetus and motivation for removing or including the various bits and pieces of Craft material. Personal creativity is a vital part of the Craft. There’s not much room for dogma in an ecstatic, experiential religion.
5. DRAFT A STATEMENT OF YOUR CORE BELIEFS.
Sign it, date it, and place it in your journal or Book Of Shadows (BOS). Choose a time each year to re-examine it, meditate upon it, and amend it if desired. Sometimes this is a good thing to do during the winter months, perhaps at Candlemas or Imbolc. You decide.
6. DOCUMENT ALL OF YOUR SOURCES WHEREVER POSSIBLE.
Give credit to where credit is due. You have nothing to gain by trying to pretend that you wrote Gerald Gardner’s books. Keep yourself honest and avoid the ego-inflation that comes with plagiarism. Given time, and effort, you will develop your own rites. When you do, you don’t want to dilute the meaningfulness of the moment by that nagging little voice that reminds you that you didn’t really do it. Respect your creativity, maintain personal integrity, and let things develop naturally. You’ll be glad you did.
7. REMEMBER THAT DEGREES REFER TO EXPERIENCE, NOT RANK.
Too many readers of books assume that the various degree systems refer to the rank and level of power of an individual, and so they strive to get to the top of the ladder as fast as possible. Don’t. The degrees are a system of landmarks to allow us all to identify those who have undergone similar experiences. When you are working alone, there’s little to be gained by initiating yourself into the third degree, assuming the title of elder, or even calling yourself a Witch queen or magus. These things all have very real meanings, and claiming what is not rightfully yours is the surest way to bar your ever attaining it for real. Take your time. Learn all you can, and work with the gods and mighty ones.
8. ONE BIG ADVANTAGE YOU HAVE AS A SOLITARY PRACTITIONER IS THE LACK OF POLITICS AND DISAGREEMENT.
You decide what to do and just do it. This is impossible in group situations where you must deliver cues, explain what you are doing, and accommodate multiple interpretations and viewpoints. As a solitary you know exactly what you are attempting to do, how you want to do it, and you are free to do whatever you will — it’s just you and the gods.
9. SOLITARY WORK IS IDEAL FOR SELF-TRANSFORMATION AND HEALING.
You can focus on building up your self esteem, creating new habits, and modifying your lifestyle to suit your spiritual outlook. As a solitary practitioner, you can build your sabbat and esbat rituals around your goals and needs in ways that a group could never do. As you progress, as healing occurs, as changes take place, you will find your practice likewise changing. Consider this a form of sympathetic magic. As you become more fully integrated and whole, your rituals will become more balanced and holistic as well. The Craft is a healing path, so why not approach it as such?
10. WE ALL LEARN AT DIFFERENT RATES AND IN DIFFERENT STYLES.
Working alone makes it possible to modify everything to suit your schedule, circumstances, and requirements. Creativity and sincerity can guide you in making your Craft practice a viable and vital part of your life. No matter what disabilities, hindrances, or restrictions you may have in your life, you can practice Wicca — if you truly, honestly desire to do so.
11. BE YOURSELF.
Don’t try to be something you’re not. Remember the words of the Charge Of The Goddess, “…if you do not find it within you, you shall never find it at all.” The established traditions — Gardnerian, Alexandrians, Asgards, Sheba, Georgian, and so on — have specific rites they have developed. Established traditions have structures, essential teachings, practices, customs, and shared history that provides a collective context that cannot be accessed by the power of your will, no matter how hard you try. You can access many of the same truths, learn the same secrets, celebrate the same rituals, and experience the same mysteries, but you cannot initiate yourself as a Gardnerian or Mason. Think about it. Why on earth waste your time trying to be something you’re not? There’s precious little room on the path to spiritual development for self-deceit. Those who truly are drawn to the Craft value honesty. It is absolutely required of you if you have any spiritual aspirations whatsoever. You can lie to yourself, but you’ll never fool the Gods.
The above article was written solely by Mr. Jim Garrison.