The Beginning, an Understanding for Both the Seeker and the Teacher Alike.
Updated: Apr 11
Written by A.R. EHPS Grigorian (2023)
There are many articles from quality resources you can read in books and online that will help any spiritual journey by giving reference on everything from discussions on understanding philosophy vs. ethics to daily practices that add a bit of organized fun to your magickal life. Others simply do the work for you by pointing you in a specific direction. And others inform, keep in mind to always remember to check your source and check the sources references. The overwhelming amount of quality information vs. opinion means that making sense of it all for initial seekers becomes confusing. So, even with all the options available today, some individuals still find themselves looking into the magickal paths, running into the same problem over and over. Where is the result? How do I wade through it all? Now, I am not talking about results in the sense of simple manifestations as a result of easy-to-use spells or daily divination draws. I am talking about the little things that help an individual to distinguish between confusion and clarity. The signals that one is " finding their path." And from it the consistent results of a well-rounded life.
To cut through the reeds to see the opening to any path more clearly there is a simple answer. Self-Reflection. First, when beginning any new thing in life you should begin with the point of origin. And in a belief system such as witchcraft that embraces the concepts of the microcosm and macrocosm or the works of Hermes Trismegistus (amongst other teachings), it is important to recognize that the point of origin is not the path outside at all, it's you.
Second, is understanding that you, yourself, just like the universe or even magick for that matter, are not stagnant. They are alive. And therefore, they move, grow, or change, just as an individual does over time. Experienced teachers and guides along any path will be knowledgeable in this fact. For they know that consistent reflection alongside practice is an essential part of the learning and growth process. And as such understanding what the difference between the beginning and the transition in motion is.
Self-reflection as an action, in these regards, is also known as Essential Reflective Practice. And it is a method of guiding from within our thoughts and thus allowing us to consider our actions, for the purpose of personal learning and development along a given practice or journey. So, where does one begin to start the process of reflection?
Here are a series of self-reflection techniques that anyone can use which will help to clear away the clutter and see the individual path that connects one to any larger source.
Ask yourself, "What started it all?"
Most sources will tell you to begin with what you want. It's much more beneficial to begin by asking yourself what is motivating your decisions to start with. The reason for this is simple, it helps us to better understand our motivation as individuals. Magickal practice, like any skill requires initial learning, study, time, and effort. 'There is no magic pill,' or quick fix if it really is a 'path'. The amount of effort to path varies from one to another. Yet, even if it seems simple at first, a commitment through your time will be required. And the combination of your time and efforts will naturally steer your learning. Which then will affect the quality of the result. Additionally, by asking this question first we may realize we just need a few simple changes or adjustments to a given path rather than to begin a complete journey. Or maybe we aren't looking for a new path at all, maybe it's the motivational drive itself that is incorrect, in which case we just need to take a better look at ourselves. This leads us to understand the nature of wanting change. Understanding not just the want for change but the whys and hows that lead us to change in the first place, so we don't carry with us unnecessary baggage when beginning any journey. Then once secure in understanding the want/need for change, we should address how we 'see' this change in life.
What do you want, and how do you feel about it?
Now that an individual is more certain that there is a need for change. We must address the desire, which is the first step to starting anything new. In other words, to know what we are seeking we have to know what we want in greater detail first. This is done by imagining the end goal. To begin this, ask yourself something along the lines of the following,
"In choosing a magickal path, are you hoping for the ability to have power over others?"
"Are you looking for a way out of a situation you have made?"
"Are you looking for popularity or to fit in with a trend?"
"Are you looking to Profit or 'to Become Something' through others, rather than through your own effort(s)?"
"Are you looking for a quick fix?"
If so, go back to question one and add to it some basic knowledge of spiritual philosophy. Because these concepts are hypocritical towards a spiritual life, much less a life path commitment to a higher understanding of the self. However, if your feelings and desire for the end goal look something like this.
"A happy life."
"Knowledge and understanding."
"Completion of my own goals."
"A more focused life where I can be true to myself."
Then yes, it's likely you are beginning.
So, Begin already!
Start by learning about magickal paths on your own first. Why? Because no one outside of you can tell you who you are. Do some research yourself, first. For example, what is the difference between Wicca and Heathenism? Learn what the concept of religious vs spiritual means. And how Wicca is a religion vs. the practices of what are known as polytheistic, atheist witchcraft, Hellenistic, and/ or intuitive based practices for example. Then draw your conclusions based on your life and your comfort.
One of the most common things I run into is when seekers have become overwhelmed by the level of available basic information and have sought help from someone else who has 'some' knowledge of the above. Which should seem reasonable, and sometimes is. But other times seekers find themselves following their helper's opinions rather than getting informed facts without the influence of the group "trend," and then succumbing to the feeling of the need to fit in. Which then results in the seeker curtailing who they are to fit the path. Rather than seeking the path that best suits them. This is of course with the understanding that we, as individuals, have successfully processed the first two steps above.
Once you begin it's time to observe and evaluate.
Once you start reading about, researching, and participating in magick. Keep reading about it, try it, or even attend a course, or visit a festival. Taking time to learn is a good thing. And then, observe what is happening. As we approach a new aspect of ourselves or effective practice, we begin to notice changes. And not just outside changes, like increases in synchronicities, prosperities, or even challenges. We begin to notice changes in what's also happening in the little things around us through our interactions and connections with others. And then from there how that makes us feel. This leads to the next portion. And that is an evaluation of the beginning of the life you want.
There is a famous quote by John Lennon
This profound statement is common to see when we open ourselves up. To get the most out of life, the most out of ourselves, out of our chosen path, the result should be simple and profound joy. Joy, as a state of being, not just a feeling. True joy is not at the expense of another. Nor from superficial laughter. Also, it is important to understand that it is unrealistic to believe that you can be happy all the time and get everything you want with zero effort. This is misleading. Rather, this is joy that comes from confidence vs. fear. The joy that comes from self-respect vs uncertainty. And observing the results of joy that come through with the magick in our daily life. A widened outlook. A calm from within.
Next, observe the little things. Things which become evident in very simple ways expressed when on the path that is best suited. And these are,
Does your path make you think critically?
Any time we are on a path that's true to ourselves it broadens our perspective. This may seem scary to some at first, but it does not instill fear. Instead it broadens our outlook by first bringing our own life into greater focus while simultaneously broadening our awareness of others. Other things, people, and perspectives. Next, after opening up ourselves to this new perspective it teaches us to have consideration for that which is different from ourselves.
Your path provides Quality Communication.
If you are not solitary or isolated on your path you soon begin to observe the efforts of quality communication with those around you. Just as books in libraries are meant to be an open resource to all, so too communication from those you share a path with should be open, honest, and able to provide both unbiased and experienced-based explanations. With a nod to my fellow mystery tradition initiates. Mystery traditions often have tiered learning, requirements for instruction, and/or inner vs. outer courts, and initiation. And this is to be respected. Yet, these traditions are still more than willing and able to explain the whys and reason behind such.
When you make an effort, great or small, it is acknowledged.
All students on any path make efforts to the best of their ability in studying and practicing. Simply because if someone genuinely wants something, naturally, they commit to it. If you, as an individual, are not committed, then an assessment of your priorities, situation, or both, is required. Yet, all too often seekers are trying to understand but have to overcome their own personal hurdles such as religious conditioning, unsupportive partnerships, or fears. And students being honest with themselves (see above), their learning, and/or teachers, so that everyone is on the same page from the beginning. In any case, knowing you are on the right path as a student comes with the repeated efforts shown through both patience and the support of your peers and guides or teachers with simple and straightforward examples like,
"I appreciate your efforts.,"
" I like (blank) about what you are saying/doing." ,
"Help me understand ?"
"I'm listening.," and others.
Supportive examples consist of showing up, being there, and being flexible when that's not possible (covid should have made this clear to everyone). Witchcraft as a practice or religion is not a hands-free experience, nature requires us to walk with her. And student and teacher walking natures' path together means we see examples such as these given freely. Alongside expressions of joy, and gratitude, or simply offering the words,
"I don't know, but I'll see what I can do," or
"Let's figure it out together."
Finally, by observing occurrences like this allows us to know that we are not just able to receive quality information, but also to be secure in the knowledge that our efforts and our goals are in alignment with each other. And that what we are doing is supported along the way. Allowing the individual to feel safe in the knowledge that they are on the right path for them. And the teacher or guide is also secure in the knowledge that they have done right by the student(s) and not just for themselves. Thus, knowledge is built, confidence gained, connections made, and happiness naturally comes to rest. Blessed Be.
R.A, and R.J. (1998) Grigorian Witchcraft Tradition BOS
R.A., and R.J (1999-2023) Grigorian Witchcraft Teachings Live
Gibbs, G. (1988) Learning by Doing, A guide to teaching and learning methods.
Trismegistus, Hermes (100-300 BCE) The 17 Treatises of the Corpus Hermeticum
Dr. Warren, Courtney (2023) Harvard Psychology and Relationships Dept. Online Articles; subheading, successful relationships.