Welcome to Witchcraft 101: Back to Basics
Day #1: Transcript with Links
Do You Want Witchcraft Advice or
Do You Want HELPFUL Witchcraft Advice?
There is no shortage of advice on Witchcraft. Not all of it’s helpful. Walk into any occult or metaphysical shop to chat with the shopkeeper, type a question on Google, visit any major bookstore, or join any Witchcraft page or group on social media and you will have access to more advice than you could ever process. Quantity doesn’t mean quality.
The modern times we live in brings the benefits of information sharing and easy access. But we also live in a time when facts aren’t facts anymore and the level of misinformation is beyond astounding considering we all have access to credible sources.
Unfortunately, because Witchcraft isn’t established science, it requires more work to discern what’s helpful and what’s not. Not everyone is excited or willing to do that necessary work. We can’t just look up peer-reviewed studies or rely on scientific journal publications to help us wade through the overwhelming claims out there. We have to do more digging and reading and critical thinking to objectively figure some of this out. For many, it’s easier to just not.
Much of the history of Witchcraft is documented but first you have to sift through countless independent websites and blogs that have rewritten that history through their own biases and often lazy research. You also won’t find a lack of ‘How-To’s’ from everyone who read one book or did one spell – they’re an expert now, you see. There’s no accountability like we have in the scientific community, where experiences and stories are largely objective rather than highly subjective as we find in the Witchcraft community.
For the most part, we’re all doing the best we can. I’m personally an optimist and generally believe most of us are just trying to help those who come after us by sharing what we’ve learned so far. Unfortunately, what many people have ‘learned’ is not always accurate, and sometimes it can be outright wrong or harmful.
Most advice is well-meaning, but like an online mom-group, advice piled on top of advice piled on top of advice can at best come with information overload, and at worst, come with the strings of self-righteousness, shaming and judgement. It’s also full of hedging from folks who want to give advice but are afraid to say the wrong thing for fear they will be publicly called out as ‘wrong’ so they end up giving advice so vague or watered down that no one who’s new can really learn from it. For most people getting started in Witchcraft, none of this is a great way to learn what’s right for you and your practice.
How do you know if the advice you’re getting from other Witches is helpful or not?
First, you need to be your own investigator. Curiosity will come in very handy here and everywhere else in your practice.
Second, understand that opinions are not the same as facts, even when delivered with confidence. Always ask yourself if the information you’re receiving is opinion, personal beliefs or experience. Is this someone’s theory or hypothesis? Some folks offer a disclaimer such as ‘POV (Point of View), ‘IMO (In My Opinion)’, ‘Hot Take’, ‘Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)’ that helps put the content they are providing into context. Others do not.
Go on now, git. Don’t keep reading- click the links and educate yourself!
Note: It’s not wrong to share your personal experiences so long as you are making it clear that is what it is. In the Witchcraft community, especially online, but also sometimes in person, it’s not always clear when you are reading/hearing about someone’s personal experience versus established facts, as they are often presented as one and the same.
It’s our job as individual Witches and people who care about the quality of our information to do the leg work of taking everything we read or hear with a grain of salt until proven otherwise.
It's also OK to get inspiration from someone’s UPG and try it yourself. But just like we don’t blindly follow a religious leader, neither do we blindly follow what we read or hear from other practitioners. Critical thinking, common sense and good judgment play a big role here. Are those herbs safe to work with? Do the ingredients listed align with your own symbolism or correspondences? Do you know what the job is for every item being used, and if so, does it make sense to you? Are there Spirits, deities or other elements you haven’t worked with before, or have chosen to reject from your practice? Does the spell, ritual or technique serve a purpose? Does it feel right to you? There are dozens more potential questions you can ask yourself but you get the idea. Challenge yourself on these things, look at all the angles and get answers before running headlong into it.
Examples of bad or unhelpful advice include making statements or claims about Witchcraft history, such as the popular but well debunked claim that nine million Witches died in the years of the European Witch persecutions when in reality it was about 30,000–60,000 people that were executed in the whole of the main era of the Witch Hunts. Still tragic, but quote those numbers, not the inflated ones that make it seem more sensational than it was.
There are many historical inaccuracies floating around in the Witchcraft community. Luckily these can be sorted through by spending time researching credible sources.
Another example would be finding a recipe for a spell or ritual that claimed it would bring the user or practitioner eternal youth, cure their cancer, or find their ‘true love’. For some, there are just plain bad actors out there writing down and sharing absolute rubbish meant to fuck with you. Some straight up lie about their spell results and outcomes to boast or get attention or followers. For others, they sincerely believe the spell or ritual worked for them, regardless of how unlikely it is.
There’s a lot of factors that can go into why a spell works or why someone believed it worked that can sometimes have very little or even nothing to do with any magick done, including self-delusion, so attempting to follow their recipe without questioning it may bring about anything from no results to undesired results.
Of course, one way to know whether advice is helpful or not is to just fuck around and find out for yourself. This carries its own risks and dangers and I don’t recommend it for beginners who don’t have a solid foundation to guide them. But you do you.
When you read something that challenges you, resonates with or triggers you, instead of blindly trusting it because it sounds good, agrees with your beliefs, or because you just want it to be true, take it as an invitation to cross-reference that information with other sources before letting it absorb and become ‘facts’ in your brain. We can't always know something wasn't helpful advice until after we implemented it, then we have hindsight and perspective that hopefully develops into wisdom.