by Estelle Daniels
Magic and Wicca are everywhere these days, on TV, in the movies, in books of fiction and non-fiction. Many people are very interested in learning more about magic and Wicca. Unfortunately, having an interest and willingness to learn does not guarantee a teacher will come.
The first thing you should know is that magic as depicted in popular media is not what the real thing is like. We wish! In the years I have been a practitioner I have never met anyone who could merely wave their hand or wand and cause things to happen. Real magic is lots more subtle and slow acting than that. Of course in fiction, they only have a short time to do what they want, so they make it more dramatic, visual and quick.
Magic and Wicca are studies that can be pursued and perfected over a lifetime (or more). Nobody is able to read a book or work with one person and become an expert. It takes practice and work. You can master certain aspects of magic in a shorter time, like learning to read Tarot cards, for example. But that is only one small facet of a magical life.
Many people who choose to become magical find they create a magical life for themself. They begin to view the world differently, they pay attention to things others might miss, they have ideas, values and priorities that may be different from more mainstream people. You still have to go to school or work and get the food in the house and prepared and on the table, but the other trappings of modern life may take a back seat to knowledge and experience in the magical realm.
The most effective way to learn about things magical and Wiccan is to find a teacher and/or become part of a group. That sounds easier than it is. Few groups advertise for members. Some groups are relatively small, and have little turnover. Classes are available, but not all are accessible in terms of time or sometimes money.
Many teachers just won't teach minors--people under the legal age of 18. This is not because of prejudice but for solid legal reasons. Parents, grandparents and step-parents have all sued and won against people teaching their children about Wicca and/or magic. The law in our society makes children the sole responsibility of their parents, and if parents don't want a child doing something, any adult who helps work against that can be sued or criminally prosecuted. Some teachers may have parents or guardians sign a waiver. This is for their protection as well as the parent and child.
If you are under 18, and want to learn there are still many things you can do. First, go to any public lectures, seminars, classes or book signings you can. If there are psychic fairs, go and watch, ask questions and observe. Some people are willing to talk in informal settings. If an event is open to the public, you can attend. You might have to pay an admission. Once there, talk to people. Be friendly and eager to learn. Don't be a pest. Respect boundaries, but ask questions. Sometimes you can get into conversations and learn things. Ask if people will go to lunch, and you can talk over food. Always be able to pay your own way. Many people would like to be able to treat others, but can't afford to. If people are busy or can't talk, don't take it personally. Just move on and keep trying. Occasionally you will find someone who is willing to talk and teach informally.
If you find a metaphysical bookstore, ask the people working there if there are classes offered. Ask them for help and advise. Sometimes they will have more time than others. You might be able to pick up some interesting information in the quiet times. Listen to what they say to other customers. If you can, try to get a part-time job there. Working in a place with the materials is a great way to pick up some magical and/or Wiccan knowledge.
You can learn by reading books. But you should also go beyond the books by trying to practice things yourself. Don't be afraid to experiment. If you cannot find a teacher, get a few friends and work it out among yourselves. Don't be worried about looking or sounding strange. Keep your activities private. Don't impose your beliefs or practices upon those who aren't interested or might be uncomfortable. Wicca and magic are part of your private life, and though they may seem wonderful to you, not everybody will feel the same. Cultivate discretion, it will serve you well in the future.
Be careful about proclaiming yourself to be an expert, because you have read a book and practiced a bit. There are people who have devoted many years to study and practice, and nothing turns a potential teacher off faster than a young person who is an instant expert. Please keep an open mind about other people and their opinions and practices. Just because you read a book and they said for example, only use green candles, and someone says they like red candles, don't assume they are wrong. Different people have different ideas and approaches. Be open to new and different ways of doing and thinking about things. Listen and think about what someone says before automatically saying they are wrong. At least express your thoughts in the form of an opinion; "I think you might be mistaken," or "I got different information from this book."
Read magical fiction. This is not to say that if you read all the Harry Potter Books, you can become Harry Potter. We all would love that, but it isn't possible. Reading about magic and spells can get your mind used to understanding what it might feel like to be doing magic and Wicca. Fiction is interesting and diverting, but you are also training your mind to think in magical ways. Be careful to choose positive and helpful literature, not the dark, horror or negative stuff. You want people who are active, take care of themself and make a positive mark on their world. If you like Harry Potter, there are many other books in the same vein. Ask your librarian or bookstore clerk. They will probably have a list of other books and authors to read. The genre is called Science Fantasy, though it covers much more than just magic. Realize when you read, that these are fantasy worlds, and things are exaggerated for plot and effect.
Watch magical movies and TV shows. There are a few, and again choose the positive ones. Here you can become dazzled by the special effects and quick plot resolutions. But real life and magic don't get wrapped up so quickly and neatly. They are less flashy and take a whole lot longer to resolve. Sometimes things don't get resolved or even solved. That's life.
There is a lot of information on the internet, but be careful. The best most effective people generally don't have time to hang around chat rooms, and frequently the people who are the loudest and boast the most know the least. Information on the net isn't always reliable. You can't believe everything you read in books, either, but books go through a longer process to get published. You cannot deliberately lie or mislead in a book, because there are laws against that. Unfortunately there are few restrictions on the internet. If you find a cool website with loads of "secret" information that nobody else has, be cautious. If their stuff is so secret, why are they putting it on a website? If they say they know best and everyone else is wrong, have your BS detector tuned to high. If three or more different people say the same thing, you can probably count on it being valid information. If they want lots of money for the truth, look out. Usually the truth you learn there is that a fool and their money are soon parted. The internet is anonymous, and many shady people rely on that anonymity to do their shady deals. If it feels wrong or bad, just say no and go elsewhere.
Magic and Wicca should make you feel good about what you do and make your life better. Be patient, and learn what you can. Many of us started the same way, and we are still around. Good luck.
© 2000, 2004 Estelle Daniels, all rights reserved.