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Teaching Wicca to Others: Advice?

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  • Teaching Wicca to Others: Advice?

    Let me begin by saying that I myself am not a new Wiccan. I have been practicing my path, which is, for all intents and purposes Wicca, for several years, and consider myself moderately knowledgeable, but certainly many miles away from being an expert on anything. Hence, why I've decided to post this.

    My roommate and best friend is just now becoming interested in Wicca. A few weeks ago, she was looking for a job and not having much luck, and I offered to teach her a spell to help her find a job. I personally believe in reserving magic only for very special circumstances and am not one to cast energy about lightly, but I decided that helping a friend was more than worth it. I created a simple candle magic spell and instructed her on how to perform it, and guided her though the process of raising energy, empowering the candle, etc. She seemed to really enjoy it.

    The results were swift and wonderful. She had been searching for a good job for something like six months, and within a week of doing the spell, she had something like three offers, one of which was really good, and she took it. She was so pleased that the spell worked, that she told me she wanted to learn more about magic. I offered to take her to an open ritual, and she enjoyed it, and said she wanted to learn more about the religion of Wicca, the God and Goddess, and magic.

    Being that I am living here, and apparently know more about it than she does, I more or less offered to teach her about it. I have never taught anyone about Wicca before, so it will be a whole new experience for me. I do believe, for whatever reason, that I have it in me to teach this, at least the basics, to another person, so I am excited to try.

    I have already begun going over what I think the basics are with her. I explained to her about the God and Goddess, and about pantheism and soft polytheism. In my opinion, this is a lot to take in, but she handled it quite well and was still very interested. I also told her about the four elements and their importance in magic and ritual. I talked a bit about how Wicca is a new religion that came about in the 1950s, and attempts to revive ancient practices for contemporary times. And yes, I did explain to her about the Wiccan Rede and where it came from.

    Where should I go next? There are a lot of subtleties about the Wiccan concept of the Divine that I'm not sure I can convey very well. Maybe she'll just have to discover them for herself. What do you think?

    Tonight I plan to teach her how to cast a circle and call the quarters. I think this is sufficiently basic enough for someone at her level. She saw the circle being cast at the ritual we attended together, so she already has some idea how its done.

    She already has some experience working with energy from that first successful spell she did. There was also, obviously, energy work involved in the casting of the circle at the Ostara ritual we attended. I was thinking of teaching her different ways to raise energy. The big question, though, is, if I teach her to cast a circle and then to raise energy, what do we do with the energy? I suppose we could let it dissipate.

    How do you feel about beginners and spellwork? As previously mentioned, for this girl, the door to Wicca was opened by a simple spell I taught her. The impression I get from her is that she is a sincere religious seeker and not simply interested in developing magic powers (not that there's anything wrong with being interested in magic for magic's sake). Recently, though, she has come to me and asked if we could do another spell. In particular, she keeps injuring herself in all kinds of crazy accidents at work, and would like to do a protection spell of some sort. This sounds perfectly reasonable to me, but, then again, she is just beginning. Should I show her some protection spells?

    Any other advice you might have about teaching Wicca would be appreciated as well.

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  • #2
    She sounds like she's interested, which is a good thing. I've been practicing for about eight and a half years now, and I've taught some people the basics. I've never taken on a student full time for more than a few months, but I know when I personally started teaching circles were among the first things I taught them. Have you taught your roommate about any of the tools we use? You could also teach her how to charge some objects, since there's nothing too advanced about that (in my own experience).
    The protection spell sounds like a great idea, too! The first spell that I did myself was a small protection spell, but it worked wonders, even when I was inexperienced!
    The past is a ghost, the future is a dream, and all we ever have is now. -Bill Cosby


    • #3
      It could be rather tricky. To become a neophyte, one would be required to have basic knowledge of ritual components, knowledge of other world religions& "pagan" paths, so in that sense it could be beneficial introducing her to different theisms like pantheism, and soft polytheism, but it could also be misleading in teaching this as the "Wiccan way."(Not saying that you are, just throwing it out generally) There's already been much spread of misinformation such as the common belief that Wiccans adhere to the axiom "All Gods are One God," which is complete bollocks. Traditional Wicca being orthopraxic, even though there's widespread agreement in practice, interpretation of the divine is completely personal.

      With the outer-court, conveying anything written by most of your Traditional authors like Valiente, the Farrar's, Gardner himself, e.t.c (as well as some of the history by the likes of Hutton, or Kelley, which it looks like you already have) in an easier way for someone else to understand would be a good way to help, and teach, but also, it's important that one works from their own level of self motivation as well. Traditional wise, one asks to become part of the mystery tradition, therefore they need to put in their own time and effort in becoming acquainted with what they need to, so maybe doing your best to show them the door would be a good route, and also it's always a plus having someone to work with.
      Semper Fidelis


      • #4
        To the OP:
        I can only speak from personal experience, but first and foremost, I would explain to her that Wicca is just one of many Pagan religions out there, that it is simply a type of Paganism. Wicca does the circle-casting, quarter-calling thing. There's the wheel of the year with 8 Sabbats and 13 Esbats (moon rituals.) Most Wiccans that I know of see the divine as the dualistic lord/lady pair. And here, I must disagree with the 3rd poster in that yes, each practitioner may have a different personal view of deity, but Wicca, in its many forms, does have a common framework.

        There are many types of Wicca. Some are women-only, some have a male-female balance, some are male-only.

        Now, once you've discussed all this, and kept it strictly to Wicca, and re-iterated that Wicca is one of many Pagan religions, you can talk about the "isms."

        I'd keep it real easy. Explain to her about animism, panthism, polytheism, dualism. I wouldn't touch spell-casting, or soft/hard polytheism, at this point. Just keep it simple and say, "the divine can be viewed as one god with many aspects, a goddess with many aspects, a god/goddess pair, an impersonal creator force, or as multiple personal gods and goddesses, each with their own personalities, etc." Define each term. Call the last one polytheism, don't even touch soft or hard yet. Ask her how she views the divine. What is most comfortable for her? Once she figures out how she views divinity, then you can say, "if you're a hard polytheist, Wicca might not be a very good fit. Here, let me introduce you to Druidry, Heathenry, Hellenic, etc." Then you gotta explain to her about those religions. If she likes the divine pair, keep discussing Wicca with her, and its many branches.

        See, in order to teach something and students to learn something, you need for that thing to have a common framework. You can't just say "it's whatever you want" because then newbiews will get confused. You must have firmly defined boundaries in the beginning.

        Ask her to learn about geology. Sit outside and look at the sun/moon/stars. Talk to the trees.

        Nobody told me any of this when I was starting out, and it took me years to figure out that Wicca is just one of many Pagan branches. I thought Wicca and Paganism were the same.

        I'd suggest she go to the library and read books on Greek, Roman, Norse, Celtic, Egyptian, Sumerian and Native American mythology. Get to know the stories and deities. Ask her which she likes best, if any. Leave it at that for now, and if she's drawn to a certain culture, ask her to keep going with that.

        Okay, so now she's figured out how she sees the divine, and decided what mythology she enjoys, if any. Now you can tell her that casting a circle and calling the quarters is but one way of doing things. Some traditions/religions don't even require you even have a circle, like Sylvan. Some religions don't call quarters.

        Bring her, or ask her to go, to a lot of public rituals. There'll be many groups there, doing every ritual from feri to Greek to Norse to Druid to Wiccan. Have her experience them all, and she can decide what she likes best. Then, she can talk to the appropriate people.

        If she asks about tools, say that a lot of people have them, but she doesn't have to if she doesn't want to, or doesn't feels she needs them. Some trads and faiths might require them, but as of right now, she's a solitary and doesn't need to worry about that, unless she's attracted to something nice and feels the need to buy it, make it or bring it home.

        If she asks about joining a coven, I'd encourage her to get her beliefs firm first. How does she view deity? What mythology does she enjoy? What does she think about energy? Does she feel a protective circle is even necessary? What are her feelings about nature? How would she choose to honor the wheel of the year? Does she even want to honor the whole wheel, or just part of it? What are her feelings on tools?

        Only then, after she's answered all these questions herself, can she even think of joining a group.

        The Witches Voice
        has a series of excellent articles titled "So you Wanna be a Witch" under "Pagan Basics". I highly reccomend them for her. I also wrote a series of Pagan articles on my Witchvox profile. Some of my beliefs have changed, but the articles are geared toward beginners.

        As I mentioned, noone told me half this stuff when I started out, and as a result, I just kinda believed whatever came along, because nobody explained things crystal-clear to me.

        I hope you find this helpful, and if there is anything else I can do, please feel free to contact me.

        "Acts of bravery make us proud. Acts of kindness make us beautiful."
        My Heart is on the Ground (Ann Rinaldi)

        "As long as you have you, there is always a choice."
        Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind (Suzanne Fisher Staples)

        "It's hard to soar with the eagles when you're surrounded by a bunch of turkeys."
        (A friend)


        • #5
          Teaching others has always been a pain in the butt for me because Paganism (and I would assume Wicca) tend to be a very personal and intuitive practice, not something you can teach out of a book. You can pass on some of the basic concepts, but the rest has to be found on it's own.

          If I get the chance to teach others, I generally encourage them to do as much reading and searching as humanly possible. My role is much less of a teacher and more of a translator; they find something that appeals to them, they investigate it, then bring it to me for input.

          I learned independently and my beliefs reflect that, it's not something that can really be taught.
          "There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. By doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses one still gets wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will get the same soaking. This understanding extends to all things."


          • #6
            Just a quick note here, learning how to set up the circle and cal quarts is indeed important however you many want to do more energy work first. In particular she should know how to direct, charge, ground and even shield if she is to become more sensitive. At the same time it is important to get a feel for varying modes and patterns of energy. Take her out in the woods somewhere and have her attune to the plants with a few tumbled stones as measures. Make sure you get stones that are strong in their elemental qualities as well as stones strong in active and passive qualities as well as gender. You can include some harder ones but having a few stones that are obvious well help her associate how those specific energies feel to her. Stones are great as they are closer to an archetypal template than plants which are more complex in their pattern. This is a great way to introduce her to more complex patterns while training her to be more sensitive.

            Have her then reflect on the traits of these patterns and how they relate to her. Have her consider how much of her perception of them is not just their attributes but her pattern as well. Start her off early seeing the inner and outer worlds as a reflection of one another.

            Its good to have a relationship to the elements before you call quarters, though iḿ assuming your just doing a basical elemental circle and not calling any specific watchtowers?

            Another thing she should do that is neglected by many is find her animal totem.
            Tsalagi Nvwoti Didahnvwesgi Ale Didahnesesgi
            (Cherokee medicine practitioner of left and right hand paths)
   - The Anikutani Tradition


            • #7
              I've got a similar thing with my girlfriend. It's a bit complex: she's been interested in paganism and Wicca since high school, but has never really practised outside of some meditation and a spell she did once, and has done only preliminary research. I, on the other hand, have been practising for about five years and have done extensive research into various subjects related to it. So I'm sort-of teaching her as we go along, practising together. Not quite solitary, but by no means a coven either since it's just us two. And we've jumped right into it; it's been both an inspiration for me and a new experience for her.


              • #8
                Thea Sabin has a handbook for teaching Wicca and Paganism now.
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                • #9
                  Have you used it? I haven't had a chance to look at it, and have no idea how good it is.
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                  • #10
                    No I have no need of it. But her other book, Wicca for Beginners, is very good.
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