Whenever I see a book or article pertaining to Wiccan neophytes, it makes me somewhat nervous. If I am asked about Wicca, my response is study, study, study. There are too many people who do not take our Path seriously; they are looking to do the “fun stuff”, like perform rituals and spells without really knowing what they are doing. We all know how those kinds of magickal workings can backfire rather dramatically.
With beginners, I always recommend a reading list. I won’t make a recommendation here as everyone has their favorite authors and paths, and respect for other’s beliefs start right at the beginning. That is one of the things I stress to my students, not that I have had many. The second thing I stress to students is balance in all things. If I have someone who balks at reading or learning the essentials, I bless them and send them on their way, with the caution about not using magick just for fun.
For the serious Wiccan, I like to start them on things that are not necessarily spells, but are precursors to them. I’ll gather up my collection of crystals, cleanse them, and have the student feel the difference in the energies of various stones. There are stones I will not let my students touch, but I always give them the reason why. Usually it’s a crystal that has special significance to me. I like to give the student the chance to see what an altar can look like, both formal and the kitchen witch who watches over the herbs, for example. These are simple things but I remember how it felt to feel the energy in my first crystals or set up a small altar.
When my son decided to follow the Path, he received the same instruction, along with cautions. He was in middle school at the time and I expected him to treat our Path with respect, which he always has. I’ve shown him how to cast a circle and do moon magick along with simple things like blessing a wand or an amulet. Although he chose not to follow a strict Path per se, he respects my need to do rituals. He always knows without me telling him that I’m doing a working, as he feels the energy, and our dog pays attention and knows when I start and finish. More often than not he asks me to do the blessings for him. He has recently starting studying the left handed path, and I’m impressed that he realizes that he’s not ready to use that kind of magick yet.
I also like to do shieldings and ask the student if they can tell the difference in the space surrounding them. Some are more sensitive than others to energy work but in my experience most will learn. My favorite to share in shielding is the tale about my nephew who stays with us during the week while he attends school. He knows I’m a witch; I make no secret of it. He thought it was “a bunch of crap” – his words, until he opened my bedroom door when he was the only one home. I have shields and a circle cast in my private space and apparently the energy literally threw him out the door. He now respects my path and is becoming more open minded regarding the mysteries of the universe.
To summarize, I encourage students to study, show them simple magicks, let them watch or participate in a minor ritual, and encourage them as they follow in the footsteps of the Ancestors. When they are ready, they have the foundation to perform spells and rituals and appreciate the intention behind it.