When you write something—a book, a blog post, a song, a tweet—and release it into the world, whatever you wrote is no longer really yours, in a sense. Other people read it, think about it, use it, interpret it, and comment on it, and it becomes something more than what you created. And sometimes people respond in ways you never anticipated.

Maybe I’m a little thick, but when I wrote Wicca for Beginners a few years ago, I had no idea how many emails, letters, and Facebook and instant messages I’d get from beginning Wiccans and Pagans looking for a little help. Many are from teens and prisoners, and there are messages from adult seekers from all over the world too. If my inbox is any way to judge the state of Pagandom, there are a lot of beginners out there, and they have a lot of the same questions.

So this FAQ answers the questions I get most often. Mostly—no offense—because I’m tired of answering them over and over again.

Is Wicca right for me?

How do I know if I’m a Witch? Do you have to be born a Witch?

How do I find Wiccans or Pagans in my area?

How do I find a Wiccan or Pagan teacher?

What’s energy supposed to feel Like? How do I know I’m doing it right?

What’s the difference between a pentagram and a pentacle? Aren’t pentagrams Satanic? Do I have to wear a pentagram to be a Wiccan?

Why are Wiccan ceremonies held in a circle? Do I always have to draw a circle when I’m going to do something witchy?

I’m new to Wicca, and everyone says I should get a special knife called an “athuhmee” or something like that. Do I have to? Knives are kind of intimidating.

What’s a magical name? How do I get one?

What’s a book of shadows? How do I get one?

I’m going to my first public Pagan (or Wiccan) ritual. What should I do (or not do)?

I’m new to Wicca/Paganism, and I’ve been going to some public events to try to meet people and learn more. But people at the events all seem to know each other, and they barely notice me. Should I try something different, or give up?

I’m sixteen, but I can’t find a teacher in my area who will teach me unless I’m eighteen or older. Isn’t that discrimination?/I know a lot of teachers won’t take a student under eighteen, but I’m seventeen and very mature. Can you help me?/Will you be my teacher? By the way, I’m thirteen, and don’t tell my mom I emailed you. 

Do Wiccans do harmful magic? How do I tell which kinds of magic are harmful and which aren’t? If I do a spell to steal my cousin’s girlfriend, am I evil?

There are a million beginner Wicca books on the market. Why did you write another one?

I’m totally new to Wicca. What should I read?

What other books do you recommend?