You would think, to look at the net, that Witchcraft is not a secret path any more.
The esoteric world has opened up a lot, and all over the net you can find spells, rituals and recipes for everything from incense to oils. Some are shockingly bad, and some are just laughable.
Most are just the same content, rehashed over and over again.
But just because there is lots of content online, that doesn’t mean that what you can see is a full view of Witchcraft. It’s more like peeking through a keyhole – except we’re letting people see what we choose to reveal publicly, to the uninitiated. The true path and its deeper secrets remains hidden.
The orion arm of the galaxy. Photo by Luc Perrot.
As it should.
Of course, what you find in a lot of websites and blogs is just so shamefully untested or duplicated or incorrect that it’s a pointless exercise in reading it, let alone attempting to work it.
So why the secrecy?
The truth is, not all paths of teaching are suitable for everyone.
Experienced practitioners know this, and although they’ll offer basic teachings online, the more complex, difficult and dangerous content will remain hidden, and only be taught directly, face to face when the time is right and the student is at an appropriate level of adeptness.
This is what I do. The content you’ll find here, while accurate and correct and all original (except where indicated), is at a pretty basic level of teaching. None of it is going to harm anyone no matter who tries it. Its effectiveness will depend on the competency of the practitioner, as all craft does. But there is nothing truly dangerous listed here. I won’t teach it online – only face to face.
There is secrecy precisely for this reason: some of what we do can be dangerous in the wrong hands.
We use tools that can be dangerous in the wrong hands. Some of the training we do, and some of the rites, can be scary, downright terrifying, psychologically threatening to an unprepared individual, and sometimes dangerous. They’re not for everyone.
This is not a G-rated path.
If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Some religions are easier – and more approachable – for mass crowds and large institutions. They tend to be open, public, easily accessible.
Witchcraft and many branches of Paganism, by comparison, tend to focus on the experience of the individual, the differences between us, and the relationships between small group of people in Circle. They foster strong relationships of trust that people outside the Circle usually don’t quite understand.
We work to a higher level because there is an expected level of ability and knowledge inherent in the group. This is precisely because we are selective, small and secret.
We don’t accept all comers. Not everyone is welcome. We turn people away regularly. Initiates fail Degrees with regularity. Not everyone passes. Some are asked (gently, and with respect) to move on. A lot of people just don’t suit a difficult, challenging, but ultimately very rewarding path. Still others simply find that they prefer another path altogether. All options are fine.
Ours is not the “one, true way” so we have no problem with people moving elsewhere, and searching for truth in other ways.
At public (open) rituals all comers may attend, but when Covens are forming and Initiates being selected, many are turned away. Paganism isn’t about gathering as many numbers as possible, then proudly claiming that we’re the fastest growing religion (or whatever).
It’s about small groups, intense energy, strong focus. And above all, trust.
Pagan paths require an enquiring, questioning mind. They tend to disdain the mentality that accepts doctrine without question. Unquestioning obedience is a fault to be worked upon and hopefully corrected, not a strength to be praised. Truth is held in highest regard. And newcomers often find the fact that science and magic work together surprising at first, although this does explain why so many Pagans have scientific backgrounds!
Put simply, it is difficult to practice Witchcraft successfully unless you are able to think creatively, act instinctively, connect comfortably with your physical self, and be unafraid and unashamed of who your innate, natural self is. All of these are aspects that are explored within the Craft, and they can be challenging for even the most open of minds – and too challenging for the closed mind.
Finally, secrecy is an old habit protecting Pagans from abuse and criticism. The Western world is still struggling toward acceptance of “alternative belief systems”, and until full acceptance is gained, secrecy protects us and what we do. It keeps us safer, it maintains our privacy, and it protects against individuals who would have everyone believe the same thing, in the same way.
Secrecy is a tool we use, just as much as the Blade is, or the Wand.
How to find a Pagan group / Coven in amongst all this secrecy?
It can be tough.
A lot of people do just find a group or like-minded individual to work with through word of mouth. They sense a friend is interested in the same type of things, and bumble along together, then eventually find a Temple to join or take a series of courses that lead them further. This isn’t a bad way to go.
Another method is using contacts like The Witches’ Voice: Witches of the World facility.
Many Pagans are listed there, together with details on their path and where they live, and can be contacted. As usual, always be sensible when meeting someone new: arrange a meeting in a public place, and let a friend or family member know where you are going, and when you’ll be back.