lynette of a crazed mind (tuesday's featured blogger of the day over at SITS) left me this question twice... what advice would i give to a young person who wants to explore this path?
first of all, i would make a distinction between wicca and witchcraft, as i practice it and understand it. wicca is a formal religion that exists within the umbrella of neopaganism - i consider myself a Witch, not a wiccan. wicca has rules and sacred scripture and lineage and is very much a reflection of the late 19th century british civil servant and his friends and enemies who thought it up. the early history of wicca almost reads like a harry potter installment and if you like masterpiece theatre of the absurd, you may find it amusing.
a Witch, as i define it, is someone who is wise in the ways of "wicce-craft," the knowledge or the craft, of the wise... and the wisdom is in well one understands oneself, one's kindred, and one's world. a Witch makes no distinction between that which is created and that which creates - god is not merely the potter who shaped the clay, the clockmaker who set it all ticking. that which creates is understood to be intimately part of all that is created, and that which is created is understood to inherently manifest some living aspect of the Divine. unlike the more mainstream religions now prevalent across the world, Witches make no distinction between the natural realm and that of the Spirit. as above, so below, as within, so without means that micro- and macrocosm perfectly reflect the reality of each other.
and so where you start is not in a book, or at a class. where you start is both outside and inside yourself. begin to pay attention to small things, like what phase of the moon we're in, or what your natural sleep cycle would be, if you allowed it to simply happen. spend as much time as you can paying attention to the seasons, to the animals and plants in the area where you live. learn the wildflowers, and birds, and perhaps their meanings according to native american or other indigenous traditions. pay attention to your dreams, to synchronicities and to coincidences. begin to spend time in meditation or simply sitting still.
like all mystical paths, the path of the Witch is solitary. you can begin by doing what others have done, but ultimately, you must do what feels true to you. there are many resources which you may consult, and i encourage you to read as widely as possible. there's even a book called "the well-read witch" - pagans as a group are known to be uncommonly well-read in admittedly quite esoteric subjects.
and so, for lynette... i hope that helps :).