How do I become Wiccan? is a fairly common question I hear, and I suspect the answer is not what the asker is expecting.
Becoming Wiccan is not about passing a test, proving your worth to another, or correctly performing a ritual. Being a Wiccan means you understand what Wicca is, why we do what we do, and how your own beliefs are in tune with those beliefs and practices.
So my first counter-question is: are you looking for a belief, or are you looking for a title (“Wiccan”) and a membership? Or have you perhaps confused the two just a bit and started to believe that the belief somehow is communicated with a title? This is not an offhanded question. If you want to pursue religion – any religion – you need to understand your own goals and desires. Otherwise, you’ll never realize them. And there are an awful lot of people who say they want to be Wiccan yet don’t know what that even means.
Wicca is not a spectator religion. While there is structure to what we do (the details of which are part of what defines Wicca as its own entity), it is not a rigid system of rules and requirements. Western society expects everything to come in neat little packages with easy-to-follow instructions, right down to our religion, and that’s not what Wicca delivers. Wicca is esoteric: it is a path for finding truth rather than having truth dictated to us. There’s a terrible number of people who have been led to believe that Wicca should say “perform the tree meditation twice a day, pray to the full moon, and leave an food offering outside your door every night and you will know the god and goddess (in 30 days guaranteed or your money back).” No honest Wiccan can (or will) offer that.
So while I cannot hand out a handy how-to guide, I can offer some general recommendations. Ironically, I’ll even break it down into an orderly list.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why am I interested in Wicca? This requires two things.
- First, a working definition of Wicca. There’s a difference between wanting to be Wiccan and wanting to learn about Wicca.
- Second, you need some understanding of your own beliefs. If you have no beliefs then Wicca, in your mind, is no closer to the truth than Christianity, Hinduism, or Scientology. Try to be specific in explaining your interest. “It makes sense,” doesn’t offer any clarity. What about it makes sense? And avoid negatives such as “I don’t believe in Jesus.” Not believing in Jesus makes you a non-Christian. It does not make you a Wiccan.
- Why do I believe what I believe? This question stumps an astounding number of people. Society has practically conditioned us to accept “I read it in a book,” as an acceptable answer. Books have authors. Authors are human. Humans are imperfect. Just because something is in a book doesn’t make it right. Not being able to provide a good answer doesn’t necessarily mean Wicca is not for you. It does, however, at least illustrate where you need to be immediately focusing your attention. Blind belief is unhealthy.
- Why do I do what I do? Seekers often jump into ritual first thing, but ritual without meaning is pointless. The ritual itself does nothing. If you cast a circle because “that’s what Wiccans do at the start of a ritual,” you’re only going through the motions. There’s a reason we cast circles as well as everything else we do. If you don’t have a reason and an understanding of it, you shouldn’t be doing it.
Read, read, read. Read more.
Understand why authors say the things they do and decide whether you agree with them. There will be contradictions. You will need to seek your own answers on those matters. Just because two authors give two different ways to cast circles doesn’t necessarily mean one of them is wrong, because ritual plays on the mindset of participants. Rituals are often published because they are useful for many people, but that doesn’t guarantee a particular ritual is effective for you.
Some things for you not to do:
- Don’t rush. Wicca isn’t going anywhere, and there is no race for enlightenment.
- Don’t turn Wicca into a collectable game. Working tools are important and hold great symbolism and meaning…but only if you understand the symbolism and meaning. Many books devote so much time to tools and other accouterments that readers are left with the impression that better tools make one a better Wiccan. They don’t.
- Don’t accept anything blindly. If something doesn’t make sense, research it. There’s a lot of very silly ideas out there, half of which should be discernible by common sense. (No, I can’t throw a refrigerator with my mind. Thanks for asking. No, my rituals were not handed down by illiterate cavemen either.) Questioning is good.
- Don’t try breaking Wicca down into neat and tidy rules. It’s counterproductive. You’re supposed to be broadening your understandings, not petrifying them into immovable laws.
- Don’t try to “look” Wiccan. Wiccans don’t have a look, nor do they need it. The moment you try for the “look,” you’ve relegated Wicca to a fashion statement.
- Don’t try to act Wiccan either, for the same reasons.
Study minimally for a year and a day
It’s not that the universe will disqualify your Wiccanness (and, no, that’s not really a word) if you don’t, but we’re talking about embracing a new religion, a new paradigm, a new understanding of the world, and embracing that should be an informed choice. You’re eventually going to be pledging yourself to deities, and it’s just rude to not go into that seriously. If you need more time, take it. (I studied four or five years before dedicating, and in retrospect that was still too soon for me.)
Build a relationship with your deities.
For many, this involves a lot of patience. After all, you don’t gain a new best-friend overnight. It involves time and effort and an honest rapport. Don’t feel you need a name for them immediately either. You are attempting to identify those who have called you. You may identify them by qualities before you can by name.
You are not choosing a deity from the god store. Whatever you do, avoid those websites and books that list 200 deities and give a one-sentence description of each. “Catherine Noble Beyer: writer of websites” is an incredibly poor summation of me. Why should we view “Athena: goddess of war of wisdom” as any more helpful? Gods aren’t objects. They’re beings.
Talk to people. Ask questions.
The Internet, while being a source of a lot of really bad info, is also a source of answers and discussion. There are a variety of forums and mailing lists out there that contain really helpful and informed people. Seek them out. Be aware that most places will have both good and bad contributors, but spending a little time with them should give a pretty good picture of who to listen to and who to ignore.
Once you have decided that it’s time to formalize your relationship, solitaries generally perform a self-dedication ritual. The purpose is a formal declaration of your devotion to your gods. How you do this is up to you. Some people use elaborate ceremonies while others do little more than cast a circle and meditate. Plenty of sample ceremonies can be found on the web if you’re curious as to what other people have done. Above all, however, you must remember that anything you gain here comes from the content and purpose of the ritual, not the ritual itself. If you don’t mean what you say or understand what you’re doing, then you’re just wasting your time with a ceremony.