The following is a list of suggested topics for teen (or adult) study in a moderately open-minded environment. If your parents are likely to throw away all of your materials on these topics, please try studying Conservative topics first. Trust me, there is plenty to learn that will enrich your experience of Witchcraft as you grow older. If you are able to study with materials that are specifically designated “Witchcraft” or “Pagan” materials, you might find the Pagan topics of interest.
There are dozens of websites that can help you learn this basic practice. Since it is common in many religions, as well as a number of self-help programs, meditation is becoming more and more acceptable in mainstream society. There are also audio-tapes and cds of all kinds available. (Jack Kornfield seems pretty popular and comes recommended.) Witches meditate regularly, so it’s an important practice to learn.
Daily mediation and record keeping (journaling) are often the changes many students find most difficult to get used to, therefore, I recommend dedicating the first few months of study to developing these habits.
This is essentially the practice of putting your imagination to work. Many art courses teach this method, and I recommend it highly.
- Find a small object that you can work with for a period of time (a week or so).
- Look it over carefully and examine it with as many of the five physical senses as you can.
- After five or ten minutes, set the item aside and close your eyes.
- Attempt to “recreate” the item in your mind’s eye, or draw the item or describe it in poetry or prose.
- Repeat the exercise with the same item for about a week. Then try with a new item.
Over time you will find that it becomes easier and easier. Eventually, you can visualize things very clearly which you have not “physically” examined. This is useful in meditation, ritual, magic and healing.
Getting a basic grip on the Zodiac and the meanings of the Houses, Signs and Planets will be of unmeasurable use to your magical and ritual practices, not to mention your abilities to “figure people out” more easily. Books I’ve found helpful include: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Astrology, The Only Way to Learn Astrology, and Choice Centered Astrology. The AstroDienst site is filled with information and will draw up charts for you for free, or you can download the slightly more complex freeware program Astrolog and create your own. The biggest thing with astrology is to play with it often, and learn what things mean by observation.
Tarot and Divination
Start with a basic deck, something not too far removed from the classic Rider-Waite deck. There are a number of interesting books on the tarot, my personal favorites include: Living the Tarot, Choice Centered Tarot, and Tarot for Every Day. There is also a terrific on-line course available free of charge.
Learning other forms of divination is also a good idea. Most witches have a “favorite” method and two or three back-ups as well.
Runes and Alphabets
Runes are useful both for divination and as magical symbols, so learning their meanings and how they can be used and interpreted is a good idea for anyone studying the craft. Freya Answynn‘s books on the runes are wonderful.
Runes and alphabets are only one type of symbol. In Witchcraft, symbolism is a key element in most workings. It is important to understand the meanings of all types of symbols, from the equal armed cross, to the pentacle, to the image of a fox to the shape of an arrow. Understanding symbols comes into play in almost all forms of divination, in dream interpretation, in sympathetic magic, in astrology, and so on. Understanding symbols as they are recognized by the collective consciousness of humankind is probably one of the most useful abilities a witch can have!
Stones and Crystals
The basic understanding of these stones is a little bit geology, a little bit energetic work. Once you have a basic understanding of the stones, you’ll want to start working with them. Carry a few with you and note how they affect you in your journal. Try using different stones as jewelry, or even using them to do some simple divinations.
This is a simple practice that might help you begin to understand and use your dreams. Just keep a pencil and paper or cassette recorder near your bed. When you wake up, make a note of your dreams, if you remember them. After a while, you will remember more and more, and you may begin to find patterns in the symbology of them. I’m not a big fan of dream interpretation cookbooks, because different things have different meanings for everyone. But once you being to find your personal patterns, you can start using your dreams to better understand yourself.
This isn’t necessarily a “New Age” topic, but it requires more freedom to explore than may be available in a conservative environment. The best way to explore the similarities and differences between the larger world religions is to go out and meet people. Talk to Catholics, Hindus, Muslims, and Jews. You might have to get on the net to do so, but if you talk to people with genuine curiosity and an open mind, you will learn a great deal. A favorite resource of mine for getting the “basics” of various religious paths (and there are so many!) is Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.