This post is inspired by the wonderful Hestia’s Servant and a post she made some time ago about a lack of elders and teachers in the Pagan community. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the people I have learned from and those I’ve been seeking out for assistance, and I’m here today to echo her sentiments.
When I was a new little Wiccan witchling, I was dead set on being solitary. Just me and my books; Barnes and Noble could teach me everything I needed. And, I did learn a lot of good, solid, basic information from the books I bought. I still have a nice little collection of literary references and, for lack of a better term, instructions. I still refer back to them.
Admittedly, part of my insistence on spiritual solitary confinement had a great deal to do with my social anxiety and the fact that I’ve never been exceptionally comfortable talking about my spiritual preferences. I was about fifteen when I seriously started down this path; fifteen-year-olds are horrible, horrible people and one can only stand so many “burning at the stake” jokes before one learns to just keep their mouth shut!
It wasn’t until I started seeing Jackie (around age eighteen) that I really started dipping my toes in the idea of learning from someone, rather than just reading from a book. Books are great, but they can’t give you that personalized experience that you need when starting on a path like witchcraft. I found Jackie to be a relatable teacher/counselor, because her beliefs are a bit eclectic, taken from multiple paths and arranged in a way which works for her, much like my own. She also has a wealth of spiritual experience which is infinitely valuable regardless of her student’s path.
But, I somewhat limited my interactions with other practitioners to just her. A lot of what I found the few times I attempted to involve myself in the Pagan community, it just didn’t work for me. I would be condescended to, or looked down on because I didn’t follow a specific path.
Lately, I’ve been seeking out more blogs run by witches and Pagans to learn from (Hestia’s Servant, mentioned at the beginning of this post, is an invaluable source of knowledge and experience, for instance). This is due in large part to having felt a spiritual disconnect for so long–I considered myself a witch, but I haven’t really been practicing. I haven’t been celebrating the Sabbats, I haven’t been performing rituals, I haven’t been casting spells. Connecting with other Pagans/witches and reading about their lives connects me to that. Reading about their experiences, being able to comment and ask questions, has helped me immensely.
But, also, I’m seeking out guidance from those not of my faith–not witches or Pagans at all! Matt, for instance, is a devout Christian (and while I wouldn’t call him a spiritual mentor, he’s certainly a guide of some sort on my spiritual journey!). A year ago–heck, four months ago–I would have laughed in the face of someone who said that a Christian could guide me on my path. But, listening to him speak about his own faith and hearing his passion makes me feel connected to and energized thinking about my own, even though it’s different. While there likely isn’t much he can teach me about witchcraft specifically, given that he’s never been down that path, I’ve still gained a lot from him when we’ve spoken about it.
I’m not sure I ever would have felt this renewal of spirit if I hadn’t sought these people out. I’m not sure I ever would have felt such a renewal of passion if I hadn’t gotten the chance to speak to others who are passionate about their own faiths, even when different from my own.
We feed off each other’s energies. It doesn’t have to be your mom’s home cooking for you to enjoy the meal!
I understand the fear and apprehension some might feel when branching out. Believe me, I’ve been there. But, the importance and benefits of learned from someone, rather than trying to figure everything out from a book (which is meant to be general and one-size-fits-all to appeal to a wider market), cannot be stressed enough.
You don’t have to go to giant ritual gatherings in your city; you can hop right here on WordPress and find plenty of people willing to share their experiences. Follow them and learn from them.
And please, don’t write-off people who don’t share your faith! Even if you don’t necessarily agree with their beliefs, they may still have something to offer you on your own journey.
Go forth and do magic.
I love you all.
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