A pentagram is a five-pointed star, usually depicted as interwoven, or with the lines used to draw it overlapping. A pentacle is a pentagram with a circle around it. Pentagrams and pentacles have long been symbols of protection and warding off evil, and they are used for that purpose by many Wiccans today. A Little History Pentagrams have been used for thousands of years and appear in ancient Greek, Roman, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian art. They have been used by Christians, too—perhaps most famously by Hildegard of Bingen, who, along with other twelfth-century Christian scholars, associated the number five with the five senses and the humanRead More →

I know it must seem like Pagan teachers who won’t take minor students are discriminating against teens, and I know that is incredibly frustrating when you’re excited about learning and want to start now. I started studying Wicca as a teen, and I remember how intensely I felt about it and how I wanted to learn everything I possibly could as quickly as possible. But the truth is, any teacher who takes on a minor student risks breaking the law. For better or for worse, people under the age of 18 (19 in Alabama and Nebraska, twenty-one in Mississippi and Washington, DC) are legally underRead More →

First of all, it’s awesome that you’re putting yourself out there and trying to get to know people in your area. That’s a scary thing to do for many people, so give yourself props for taking the initiative. There’s a weird paradox with open Wiccan events. Many of these events exist to help newcomers learn more about Wicca and get a foothold in the community while providing local Wiccans a chance to do ritual or socialize together. But when a community comes together regularly—even if there’s acrimony and witch-bitching between some of the members—it forms a culture with relationships and expected behaviors. These dynamics areRead More →

What Should I Wear? Unless there are guidelines about what to wear on the website or flyer where you found out about the ritual, chances are you can wear almost anything. I have seen people wear street clothes, ritual robes, sarongs, great kilts, bathrobes, lingerie, tie dye, caftans, head-to-toe leather, belly dance costumes, sarees, fetish wear, god or goddess costumes, animal costumes, fairy wings, armor and chain mail, nothing but body paint/glitter/henna designs/jewelry, and nothing at all. But, as with many things in life, just because you can do whatever you want doesn’t mean you should. DO wear clothing appropriate for the ritual venue (lighterRead More →

Wiccans and Pagans often use the word “energy” to mean the power that emanates from living things, deity, the earth, or all three. Geek that I am, I have likened it more than once to the Force from Star Wars, “It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.” I have also likened it to the “qi” or “chi,” the core principle of tai chi and Chinese medicine. Beginner Wicca and Paganism books—including mine—often include exercises for working with energy. Some of the benefits of doing this are to align with the natural world, to becomeRead More →

Before you try to connect with a teacher, it helps to answer some or all of the following questions for yourself. What do you want to learn? Are you interested in learning about Wicca or Paganism in general or a specific tradition or path? It’s helpful to do a little research to see what traditions appeal to you, or, putting the egg before the chicken, to see if any of the traditions taught in your area resonate with you. Or are you interested in studying a specific deity or pantheon, a magical system, or a skill, such as herbalism? What is your goal in takingRead More →

Back in the not-so-good old days (aka the ‘60s, ‘70s, and early ‘80s), you had to know someone or be introduced in person or by mail, or maybe you found someone though word of mouth, a listing in the back of one of the few witchy books available, or through magazines like Green Egg or Fate. If you were extra lucky you might live near an occult bookstore, such as Herman Slater’s Magickal Childe in New York. If you were less lucky, you had to get creative. There’s a semi-legendary story of a man who looked for Wiccans by posting notices in Theban (a WiccanRead More →

I blame Bewitched, Charmed, and Harry Potter in part for this question. In all of those universes, Witches are born, not made. “Person has a mystical experience and discovers s/he’s got magical powers and is the only one who can save the world” is a tried-and-true theme of films, children’s books, and urban fantasy fiction. But it is exactly that—fiction. As in, “fun to read or watch but not true.” We become Witches by choosing to become Witches. We either study on our own or with like-minded others or find a teacher who helps us. We declare ourselves to the god(s), or we are initiatedRead More →

These are books I have liked myself and/or recommended to students. There might be editions other than those listed here, and some of these might be out of print, but if you use your Google fu, you should be able to find used copies somewhere. Basic Wicca and Paganism Books Adler, Margot: Drawing Down the Moon. Boston: Beacon Press, 1979. Buckland, Raymond. Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1993. Campanelli, Pauline and Dan. Ancient Ways: Reclaiming Pagan Traditions. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1991. Campanelli, Pauline and Dan. Rites of Passage: The Pagan Wheel of Life. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1994. Campanelli, PaulineRead More →

Here are some of my favorite books for absolute beginners, in no particular order. The Spiral Dance by Starhawk The Spiral Dance was written around 1979, when there were almost no beginner Wiccan or Pagan books on the market. Many, many people were introduced to the Craft through this book. It’s well-structured and full of great information and extremely useful exercises, meditations, and rituals. I have some quibbles with Starhawk’s view of the Goddess in history, and this book is a bit female-centric, but it is gorgeously written and can help women and men alike build a strong foundational practice. Get the most updated versionRead More →