Four Fundamental Skills for the Newbie
It doesn’t matter if you are Wiccan, Pagan, or simply a witch. There are a few skills that will help you on your path. These skills are observation, meditation, visualization and contemplation. As a newbie, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I like to suggest working on these four skills.
Below is the text of what I ask my students to work on before classes actually begin. There are questions after each skill- I like to encourage journaling your thoughts in relation to these questions.
Observation is a key skill on the Pagan path. By observing our surroundings, not only are we able to connect more easily with the cycles of the earth, but in ritual and magic, we can shift what we’re doing in order to achieve our goal. This might be casting a circle, listening for our ancestors at a dumb supper, or noticing the way energy reacts to your body. It might be noticing the way the wind smells differently, or how the light changes as we closer to the seasonal change.
Are you noticing any changes in the natural environment lately? When do you feel that fall really begins? What changes trigger that for you?
Meditation is another key skill. Ask anyone why we meditate and you’ll get a bunch of different answers. It helps us quiet our minds so that the divine can speak to us. It helps us ground and center. It helps us learn how to focus and control our brains, so that we can easily switch mindsets for ritual and magick. There are many benefits to meditation and many ways to meditate! The most common ways are mindful meditation and guided visualization meditation.
Right now do you meditate? If not, research some different ways to meditate. If you do meditate, which ways do you like to meditate? How often do you meditate? Do you find it helps you in some way?
Visualization is a skill of imagination- of pictures created in your minds eye. In ritual, we visualize specific things. In magical workings, we often visualize energy moving a certain way, or of a certain color- depending on our intent. We might visualize the goddess in many different ways. Many meditations include guided visualization, where the narrator of the meditation will describe a scene and maybe guide one through doing an activity of some sort. Pumping yourself before a meeting by visualizing a good outcome is one way of using visualization in the mundane world, as is imagining a great parking opportunity while Christmas shopping. One more advanced step is “visualizing” with your other senses, like smell and touch.
Do you feel that you are good at visualization? It doesn’t come easy to everyone. How do you use it?
Contemplation utilizes the most basic skill of all- thought. When we are contemplating something, we are mulling it over from all sides in our brain. With the advent of technology, quick fixes, and five second newsstories, the need for contemplation in our daily lives seems to have gone by the wayside. It’s easy to ask 150 facebook friends for witchy book recommendations while watching a YouTube by a self-proclaimed high priestess witch queen and looking at a buzzfeed page entitled 10 WITCHY BOOKS YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT!
Rather than sitting down and thinking about what you are truly interested in, it’s easier to crowdsource ideas. It takes less time and energy to listen to other people tell you what they are interested in, rather than to take an hour and focus inward and really think about what you believe, what you are interested in, and WHY. Why do I believe this? Why do I feel that way? Do I feel that plants have souls like humans? What do I think about the afterlife?
Choose one (or more) of these questions and sit and THINK about it. If you already know how to feel about these topics, choose a different one. Or contemplate it, anyway.
- How do I view the divine?
- Do plants have feelings and souls?
- What happens after we die?
- At what point do we get the spark of personality we exhibit in life- in the womb?
- Where did energy initially come from?
- Are there non-physcal planes or realms? What lives there?
- Is there such thing as ghosts? If so, what are they? If not, what are the weird visuals and phenomena that occur?
Choose one of these topic and sit for at least a half hour and think on it. Journal your thoughts. No answers are wrong, and realize that you might feel completely different about the same question tomorrow- and that would be okay.