You’ve read EVERY book. Raymond Buckland, Scott Cunningham, and many others have a special place upon your shelf. You’ve done a spell (okay, so maybe a LOT). You’ve memorized almost every rock and its properties. You’ve created an altar as instructed by either a) a friend b) a book or c) a helpful fairy (who MIGHT have given you the wrong directions.). You look upon your sacred space—whether it’s a shelf, an actual altar, or hidden away in a drawer from prying eyes—and smile with hands on hips.
Yep. You have everything the books said you needed. You have a wand, an anthame, incense, perhaps even a statue or two. Everything is there. But unease beings to set in now. Doubt creeps in. Are you REALLY doing this right? Are all those books you read REALLY correct? Some seem to contradict each other. But the thing you notice the most as you start to look through your beloved books is that really, they all say the same thing. Aside from a few authors who ASSURE you, you don’t NEED a wand or anthame, they all seem to hold the same thing. Spells for love, luck, money, stress, sleep, dreams, and elemental magic. Some food recipes, meditations, history, and if it’s really good, correspondence charts, seals, and symbols. But really, they all seem to say the same thing. And then it hits you. All of these books, they’re great. FOR BEGINNERS.
I’m not a beginner! You shout to the pages. I’ve been at this for (insert ‘x’ amount of months/years)! I KNOW this stuff! I’ve memorized the zodiac AND Chakras for god(dess)s sake! Why won’t any one explain the rest!? After doing exactly what I’m sure all of you have done, I decided to close the books and do some soul searching (as well as talking to some elders) instead. And here is the conclusion I have come to. Books are great. They’re helpful when your new and don’t know anything about the craft (and I mean any aspect. Reiki, psychics, spells, you name it.). They give you a nice solid foundation in which to take a jump into the pagan world, and can help pave the way when it comes to the fundamentals.
But—I know, there’s always a ‘but’—that is about all the authors CAN do. It isn’t because one is less capable than another. It isn’t that they all went into a room and copied each others manuscripts and recipes, or all decided en-mass what they could all put into their books. It’s because giving you the basics is all that is really writable. Wait, I hear you say. You CAN’T be serious. Can’t they teach me high magic? Can’t they teach me to call the wind, move water, or summon an angel or elemental? Well…maybe they could. But certainly not in a book.
You see, the craft is very, VERY personal. Every experience you have is unique, and no one else will have the same feelings or reactions that YOU will. For instance you and a friend may both see a ghost, but one might think ‘cool’ and try and make friends while the other has found a cupboard to hide in. You’ve both seen it, but the feelings are different. The same goes for when you do magic or meditate. Who you see, how you feel, and what happens is all dependent on YOU. No author can tell you what you’re going to see/feel when you do higher magic because it will ALWAYS be different. Their experience will not be what YOURS is.
Now, I realize this is probably disheartening news. I know I was when I realized that really, you can’t DO higher magic without the help/guidance of an actual elder/priest(ess). It IS dangerous to simply recite things out of the books. Believe me when I tell you the power that goes on is really intimidating, and you can easily lose control if you don’t have a mentor with you. And finding a mentor can be hard. But I wouldn’t recommend doing anything that you’ve never done before without one (regarding high magic, not spells, etc). All I can give you is experiences I’ve had. Will it be the same for you? Probably not, because you’re not me. Perhaps you wouldn’t end up behind your instructor terrified out of your mind by an ethereal presence. But that was my first reaction. Do you see where it gets hard?
I DO wish there was a book to explain what happens AFTER you’ve acquired all of your tools and have gotten to the point where you’re perfectly comfortable casting a circle or knowing your psychic shields are strong. But the thing is, the jump from intermediate to advanced is quite large, and can only be taught by practice, experience, and if you can find one, a mentor. Books can’t teach you about life, you have to live to do that. But they CAN help prepare you. So while it’s frustrating knowing that there is only so much you can learn from books, try and use that feeling to go out and search for people who can give you answers and help you grow.
Remember, walking the pagan path (whether your wiccan, or any thing else) is about WALKING. So get those shoes ready, because once you’re ready to close those books, it’s going to be a long, winding, fun trek! And no travel brochure is going to tell you where the rocks are.