A conversation last night and several over the past month has sparked this post.
Witchcraft – Folk magic – Conjure, whatever you chose to term the practice of magic, is a journey, not just a destination you are climbing to. It is something lived, not just a hobby for those who consider themselves serious practitioners. With this in mind I wanted to discuss some of the aspects that take us from beginner to advanced, and what it looks like to live your practice.
When we first start out, we start from a place of learning and gathering knowledge. Listening to other’s experiences, how they do things, and how they perceive their own craft. We gather from history, folk tales, stories passed down, and the practitioners of today. We start to dabble in what we are learning. Generally by starting with the spells and works of others. We explore different types of magic and different traditions. This is what I would deem the beginner stage and Knowledge Gathering stage. During this phase we are not just learning from others and exploring the possibilities, but where we are starting to build our own understandings and rules for our own craft.
As we move further in, we start to come to a place where we are making it personal to us. We start to look deeper at our own practices. What is working for us, what our associations and feeling are. We start creating our own tools and spells. We are experimenting more and following others less. Our rules expand and we start building our own foundations. We are testing our limits and constructing our own boundaries. This would be the second stage or intermediate phase.
Then we come to what most would be considered advanced practices. It is also the place that we take everything we have learned and built for ourselves and put it into practice by Living in our Practices.
This is where we are layering our magic. Such as Protections, that go from simple wards to various layers of protections, with specific jobs to do, but blended together to work in harmony together. Where the spells we are crafting, simple or complex, layer the various energies needed to produce our intended result and based in our own structures. Where the knowledge and practice have become like a reflex – so you can easily cast a spell at the time it is needed without having to consult and pour over various texts. You have developed your Cunning Mind, so you can easily take what is around you and create what is needed. It also allows you to know what is needed for each situation you are confronted with.
It is also the time where you are actually living in the lessons you have learned. Not always in conscious thought and having to remember to do things, but just as who you have become. You find it is blended into the day to day things you are doing. You are stirring in intentions when cooking or just stirring up your morning drink. Your daily chores have been blended into the spiritual realm, so as you are sweeping away the physical dirt you are cleaning out the bad energies as well. Not in a way that is ceremonial and full of pomp, but that has just become the routine. Your boundaries and rules in magic have also become the boundaries and rules in your daily life. You see the spirits of all that is around and your connection to them.
I have a friend that has worked hard through a lot of lessons and honing of skills last year. This year she is moving into a space of living practice with them. Because most of the living situations she was finding herself in were related to more mundane things, work situations, even some personal ones, she did not see she was living all the lessons she was taught. She was using all the skills she had built, but because there was no ritual, no purposeful movement into a magical space, no magical tools being used – she did not see she was actually LIVING in what she had worked so hard to create. I tend to think this happens more often than not. Because there is no sign post saying “you have made it!” There is not this huge overnight shift or special ceremony to mark the day it happens – because there is none. This happens gradually, over time, through experimenting and adopting our own ways. It is a constant transformation, always happening, as long as we keep advancing ourselves.
We are always at a point of beginner, because we are always learning and experimenting with something new. There are other things that we have already worked through all the processes and can be considered advanced in. Boundaries and rules will shift as we get better footing and grow ourselves. What we build on our foundations will be torn down and rebuilt over and over depending on where our journey takes us next.
No one can tell you where you are – when you have reached this elusive “advanced stage” – except yourself. You know what you have done and can do. You know what you have incorporated into yourself and what is still lacking.
The internet community makes a lot of assumptions about people without knowing them – you are only seeing a small snapshot of that person in that space. They are only seeing from their own perspective, built by their own experiences. I see some add embellishments to their stories in order to make them seem more magical – and some incredible stories that are exactly how they have been presented by the experience of the person relaying it. Other people make judgments and comments based on their own personal experiences. All of this leads to this “impostor syndrome” and sewing doubt into people, especially newer ones who have not yet learned to trust themselves. This is another sign of movement from beginner to a seasoned practitioner. The seasoned practitioner knows everyone is different, with their own experiences and perspectives, that may not resemble our own – that doesn’t make it false, just different. Just something to consider before you decide to comment or say something about another. Your experience may be different, but it is still valid to you as theirs is to them.
There are many ways to look at all of this and I am sure others have their own ideas at where those lines are. As always I can only speak from my own experience and perspectives I have gained. I do hope it has shed a little light on some of the differences and how that growth takes place. I hope it has inspired you to look at your own to see where you are and want to go. It will be different for all of us, but it is a journey after all – not a destination.