What Every Newcomer Should Know

Patience is a virtue and practice makes perfect.

Disclaimer: If you read this and don't like what it has to say because it goes against what you think paganism is about you should probably do some real soul searching about why you are looking into a pagan path to begin with.

We live in what I call the microwave generation. If it is not ready to eat in less than five minutes and if it takes more than a twenty-second sound byte to make its point the microwave generation loses interest. Technology has brought us and taught us wonderful things at the cost of our attention span. If a web page takes longer than five seconds to download we begin to feel impatient as though we were wasting that oh, so precious commodity, time.

Well, guess what? The pagan path takes more than just an hour on Sundays. It takes time, patience and practice. If all you want are spells or to look cool, or to rebel against your family one of the pagan paths might work for you, but you will be missing out on what it is really about.

No pagan path is just about spells. Many pagans never cast a spell in their lives. In fact most pagan paths suggest you study for at least a year and a day before you do cast any. Many, including me, feel that if you can’t write your own spells you are not ready to cast them. Spells other people have written have their intentions behind them, which might be quite different from yours. Paganism is about discovering and following your own spiritual path. It is a religion, just like Christianity, Islam, or Judaism is. Spell work is in many cases the pagan equivalent of prayer, sometimes called prayer with props or prayer with a punch.

Paganism is about personal responsibility. It is about being aware of your actions and how they will affect others. This is what both the Wiccan Rede and the Threefold Law are trying to teach. If you are planning on casting a spell that will affect someone else without their permission think long and hard about your motives. Everyone is entitled to his or her own freedom and choices. Paganism is about honesty. Starhawk sums that up perfectly:

"Those who practice magic must be scrupulously honest… In one sense, magic works on the principle that "It is so because I say it is so." For my word to take on so much force, I must be deeply and completely convinced that it is identified with truth, as I know it. If I habitually lie to my lovers, steal from my boss, pilfer from supermarkets or simply renege on my promise. I cannot have that conviction." Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, Page 111

If you cannot trust your own word how can you believe a spell will work for you or that you actually experience what you do in visualization? Honesty is an added reason to not hide or lie about your interest in paganism.

The time I mentioned that paganism took is not wasted time. It is time spent learning about yourself and your beliefs and goals. It is time spent learning to be a better person. Learning to be the "you" you were meant to be.

Part of the lessons you learn (hopefully) is patience, which is tied closely to practice. Patience to learn to trust your instincts. Patience to keep practicing until you get it right. Patience to learn and study without giving up. Patience to deal with people who might not understand your path. Patience to know nothing happens overnight.

If you can invest time patience and practice then you will find paganism a very rewarding, individualistic spiritual and religious path. If not, give yourself some time, perhaps it is just not the path for you at this point in your life. Who knows what tomorrow might bring?