After I completed the manuscript for Advanced Witchcraft I was scheduled to write a book on past-life and karmic tarot. I wrote it, but I fought distractions during the entire creation of that manuscript. I kept thinking about all those seekers on the other end of the continuum, the maybe-Witches who were seeking a spiritual path they could embrace for a lifetime, but had no idea where to begin their journey.
It's a wide open path now that the door has been taken off the broom closet, and many non-Pagans can accept the fact that "there are such things," even if they don't wish to worship our deities within our formats.
The bookstore shelves are no help to someone who has no idea of where the best place is to jump in. Each store carries a massive selection of works about every aspect of the Craft, its traditions, and its magick—both ceremonial and nature-based. The choices a newcomer faces are overwhelming. How do you know you have a real beginner's book in hand? You may not even be sure you want to be a Witch. The many new books on basic Witchcraft or Wicca all have places where they diverge from the others, and they might even contradict one another. What if the author of the book, as good as he or she may be, does not present the version of the Craft that interests you the most? How can you trust yourself to select the books that won't assume prior knowledge on his part? What's the sincere seeker supposed to think and do?
I often considered embarking upon my own "how-to" book for beginners, but I questioned its value. I didn't believe I had any beginner's material unique enough to merit yet another book of Wicca 101.
Still, the idea came knocking at the door of my consciousness when I was engrossed in another project. I didn't intend to answer that mental doorway and let it distract me from the project on which I was supposed to be working. Since I never had troubles focusing on my work before, this frequent intrusion was maddening. Like it or not, some glimmer of light had been kindled and was crackling around in my head, shining brighter each day until I was forced to pay attention. The light had a voice—and a very stubborn one at that! It kept shouting about "newcomers" and "novices."
Is there a difference between newcomers and beginners, or is this just a semantic sleight of hand? If so, then I'm sure I could have a brilliant future as a political speech writer. If not, then perhaps there was room for another basic text on Witchcraft, one that addressed the seeker at the earliest point in his attraction to the Craft.
If You Want to Be a Witch presumes no prior knowledge of Witchcraft; it doesn't even assume the reader knows the meaning of that word itself. It's not a large book, but covers the basics: the Sabbats, esbats, magick, and raising and sending power. The focus is on "testing the environment," rather than diving in and risking a painful belly flop.
I wanted to create a book for the Witchcraft-curious; not the beginner, but the newcomer who often comes into the Craft and its many disciplines with the wide eyes of a child marveling at the bounty of gifts underneath the glittering Yule tree. At one time I was a newcomer, too—we all were. We all wanted to try everything we'd heard about and seen. We had trouble keeping in mind that the process of our work in Witchcraft is equally important as the end goal we desire.
I wrote If You Want to Be a Witch to enjoy the process of creating, yet with a specific end goal in mind. When the newcomer finishes reading this book, I hope and pray to Goddess that this newcomer will come away possessing a basic grasp of the practices and beliefs of Witchcraft or Eclectic Wicca. He or she should be armed with the knowledge needed to make a sound decision about whether or not this is the proper spiritual path for him or her.
First and foremost, Witchcraft is a religion, and anyone practicing it must be aware that worship is the primary purpose. Magick is a part of that practice only because we, as Witches, acknowledge the unseen energies around us and learn how to bend, shape, and send them where we wish them to go.
If you've been thinking about Witchcraft and you have a novice's interest in exploring it a little before committing, then I hope If You Want to Be a Witch will be the tool that helps you make this life-altering decision.