I've lurked on this site for quite some time,
and watched as new people often come looking
to find "how" magic is going to work for them.
(Or perhaps they are really asking *IF* it will
really work at all?? "I want to believe in magic,
but how can I know if it's real?")
Most get frustrated when they find there are not
easy solutions to the difficult problems in their
lives, and they leave, never to be heard from again.
Others give it a try, looking for a starting point,
and then skipping from "Path" to "Path", all with
limited success and a LOT of doubt-- in magic itself,
and perhaps worse, doubt in themselves.
To this end, I propose that the very FIRST thing we
must teach new members is to gain a bit of Perspective,
and I would offer the one below as a suggestion.
(Allowing for a brief prelude: I walk my own Way,
and by no means am I attempting to speak for those
who walk the Paths of Shamanism, Wicca, or any other Path.
Should any of the leaders in those areas care to correct
me on the claims I make below, I'm open to discussion!)
Magic is a skill.
Read that sentence again.
Magic is a skill, which must be developed.
You are reading this, so I'm going to assume that you can read.
Think back to your first experiences with language.
What were they?
Most likely a few important words, and then singing
the "ABC's", am I correct?
Then you had to learn to recognize the letters when
they are written down.
Then you had to learn how to write them. And you
probably started with TERRIBLE penmanship that nobody
could read, maybe not even yourself, right?!
But you couldn't stop there! Being able to write
your ABC's was not enough! You had to learn numbers,
As you were doing all this, you also had to learn
what sound each letter represented. That part was
kind of fun, mixed with pictures, usually ones that
held some fun emotion for you.
But you couldn't stop there! Being able to sound out
letters was a good start, but actually reading was HARD!
If you had good mentors who really understood the process,
who could teach you at the pace that was best for you,
then you probably became very good at reading.
But you couldn't stop there! Suddenly, you had to learn
how to spell. Because if you couldn't spell correctly,
nobody would know what you are saying, right?
But you couldn't stop there! Even when you could spell
basic words, then you had to learn basic grammar. Because
if you didn't put words in the correct order, people would
not understand what you were trying to communicate.
But you couldn't stop there! As you grew older, you had
to learn MORE words, and sometimes even explore words
and spelling and grammar in other languages!
Meanwhile, you were also learning to count, add, subtract,
etc... Math is the language of the Universe, linked
inherently with our own verbal/written languages,
and you had to learn it, too!
It goes on and on, but I like to think that most people
who have read this far now understand my point?
Magic is like this. You cannot simply read a spell on
the Internet, say the words, and hope it works.
You cannot simply follow through with the motions of
a ritual, and expect some kind of result.
IN FACT, if you really think about it, if magic was
that easy, wouldn't EVERYBODY be using it, all the time!?
I would correct this inaccurate thinking by warning
you now that magic is far more difficult than anything
else you've ever done. (Of course, if you can master
it, then you can do anything!)
First you have to learn how to recognize, write, and use
the letters... to spell words and put together coherent
sentences; to strengthen your vocabulary and explore
your creative talents.
But you have to grow strong before you can so much as crawl,
never mind standing, walking, running, and flying...
So, stop trying to skip ahead, and whatever Path it is that
you choose to walk, take the ten-thousand mile road, one step at a time!
Otherwise, you will never get there.
Study well, train hard.
--Victor F. Black