Detail of "Ritual"
pen & ink drawing
by Laura Tempest Zakroff
The Witch's Mind
The way you perceive the world around you has a lot to do with how your life-path will travel. The Witch should always been skeptical in nature, possessing an open but critical mind. Having an open mind is truly a wonderful thing, but not if it's so open your brains (and dignity) fall straight out. Gather as much information as you can, listen to everything, use the scientific method, and then make decisions about how things are. As Witches, we search for the connections between all things and strive for balance. This means being considerate and courteous, understanding and diplomatic. You will be silent at times, vocal at others, naturally knowing what time is best for each. There is no need to show off your talents and draw attention to yourself. Someone who strives for attention will get it, and eventually it will lead to undesirable attention from potentially dangerous persons. It is also important to realize that all paths lead to the same source, so respect all paths, even if you don't agree with them. Stand up for your beliefs, but don't belittle others for their views. Always be confident and respect your body mentally and physically, for it is your temple. Your mind and will are powerful tools, and combined with a relatively healthy body, can bring about incredible change, and really, this is all you need to "do" magick.
What is your tradition? One powerful metaphor for how life, magick, and fate work, is that we are all part of a great tapestry, intertwining threads creating some massive intricate pattern, which can only been seen well after it has been woven. People always seem to be struggling to validate their path, their part in the tapestry, and their ancestors¹ place. I personally believe that there is no difference of validity between someone who is a Witch of family lineage hundreds of years old, and the young girl born in a strict Christian family trying to find the ways of Witchcraft truly within her heart. One is NOT better then the other in this respect. What will separate them is their sincerity of approach and following of the path. Nothing else. If anyone ever sets out to belittle your beliefs, or say you're not a "true Witch" because you don't have the right breeding, paperwork, or any other nonsense, they are simply struggling to fortify and validate their own shaky beliefs. You are on your path because it has chosen you, remember this.
Most people seek to find a focus for their beliefs. I suggest researching your own ancestry (regardless of the accompanying religion). This will give you a good basis to begin your research upon. Interview the elders of your own family, listen to their stories, and make note of them. Most families possess a great wealth of folklore and superstitions that have roots in Paganism. Look into the history of the places your family originates from, you may be surprised by what you find. Many Witches also use their ancestry as an idea of what deities feel most comfortable to them. Though I draw upon a very eclectic sort of pantheon, many of the personal deities I relate to are Slavic, Russian, or Italian in origin. So I highly recommend doing a bit of digging into your own roots to find your starting point, because you need to know who you are before you begin to think about who you will become. If you are are unable to draw from your roots (as sometimes in the case of adoption or loss of family), then start with what you are most drawn to and go from there.
Where are you now? Once you have struck out upon your path, you are in a way quarrying out the stones that layout the path, and also are leaving a trail for others to follow and add their own stones to the path-work. In this foundation, stones are the living sculptures of divinity, the blueprints for creating sacred space, and a basis for formulating ritual and natural magick. You choose these things to build your path upon, so it is important to make careful, well-thought-out decisions about which "stones" you will use. Use what fits comfortably and makes a pattern that makes your life dance. Don't simply settle for broken stones and whatever works, for it will only make the trip miserable and unsatisfying in the long run. Keep notebooks of your findings, detailed descriptions of dreams, insights, divination, etc. You can curate your best discoveries into a special grimoire if you so desire.