The idea of learning witchcraft may bring a number of different images to your mind. You may think of nothing more than Fantasy stories starring wizards in white robes, chanting odd words and throwing fireballs from their hands. You may think of the 80s and the “satanic panic” of people worried about satanic cults and child sacrifice. Or you may not even think of anything at all. After all, witchcraft isn’t real, right? It’s silly to think of something that simply isn’t real.
But “real” is a subjective term. When people go about learning witchcraft, it’s important to understand that they’re not learning physics bending abilities that would make the mortal mind bend in uncomfortable ways. What they’re actually learning is one of a number of different religious beliefs.
The most common religious belief to learn witchcraft is called Wicca. Of course, Wicca isn’t the only religious to lay claim to learning witchcraft, but it is the most prevalent. It’s difficult to get an exact count of how many people practice Wicca, due to the disorganized nature of the religion itself and the fact that many people who practice the religion may simply claim they’re practicing “paganism”, or may call it something completely different.
Make no mistake, however. Wicca is a religion, in the exact same way as Christianity or Islam is a religion. It contains a core set of beliefs, as well as ritualized ceremonies that represent various things. Any kind of ceremony that you might find in Christianity or any other major world religion, you can find in Wicca. There are wedding ceremonies, funeral ceremonies, baptism ceremonies, and many, many others.
So if Wiccans claim to be learning witchcraft, but it’s a religious belief, then what exactly are they learning? Witchcraft for a Wiccan or other pagans is nothing more than the force of spiritual belief upon the natural world. Many people would consider witchcraft similar in nature to the prayer of other religions. However, due to the nature of Wicca, instead of praying to a divine being to carry out their desires, they instead perform a ritual that allows them to invoke their own will upon the world.
So how does one go about learning witchcraft if one is interested? In many cases, it’s difficult to separate witchcraft from the religion that teaches it. This means that learning spells and ceremonies goes hand in hand with learning about the religion itself.
Luckily, even though Wicca and other pagan religions are disorganized, that doesn’t mean it’s difficult to get information about them. There are a number of different books and online journals that you can read. There’s even an entire publishing house, called Llewellyn Books, that specializes in the publishing of books about pagan religions. Buy purchasing and reading these books, you will begin to learn about the religious beliefs around the practice of witchcraft.
Like many religious beliefs, learning the practices of Wicca and other pagan religions is more than simply learning rote words and mindless steps. You could certainly learn the words and the steps, and you could perform them as much as you desire. However, like most religious prayer, it’s hard to say exactly how much good those things will do if you don’t open yourself up to the spiritual understandings of the religion itself.
Thus, if you want to learn witchcraft, it helps to begin to internalize the belief structures of Wicca and other pagan religions. A good way to do this is to commune with nature. Wicca is a nature religion, and many of the rituals and ceremonies work on invoking nature in some way, shape, or form. Learning what you can about the nature around you, and understanding your own relationship with it, can go a long way to helping you learn how to perform various bits of witchcraft.
Lastly, presuming you’ve learned about the religion and you’ve begun to understand your own relationship with nature, you simply need to explore the magic itself. Remember that magic is not a series of spells and incantations that you perform to break the laws of physics. Instead, witchcraft is about finding and focusing your own inner strength, and enforcing it on the world around you. Witchcraft is subtle, and is more about understanding how you, yourself function than it is about forcing the world to function for you.
At the end of the day, learning to perform witchcraft is not exactly an easy thing. It requires learning about yourself, and learning about the history and practices of actual religions. But if it’s something you’re truly interested in, there’s no reason you can’t find out more about it. There are hundreds of books out there on the market, not to mention many practicing Wiccans and pagans that would be happy to help you learn.