I’ve never been part of a coven. I’ve never even had anyone to practise with, apart from my very forgiving partner who participates with me on occasion. I can remember being a young woman of about 16, drawn completely towards witchcraft, but without any kind of access to information about it. I went to high school in a small city of about 20,000 people, where we had one bookshop which most certainly did not carry books on the occult.
I was in there one day, desperately perusing the one shelf of vaguely spiritual books, when a complete stranger walked up to me and said, “Something is telling me that you need to read Scott Cunningham.” I thanked her, and went home and booted up the old dial-up internet and googled it. There it was, sure enough – Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. And the price tag on it was eye-watering. I didn’t have a job or anything – I made $30 a week teaching music and sold some jewellery occasionally, but this was a whole new level. Books are really expensive in Australia, or at least, they were back then.
It was over a year until I got my hands on that book. I was in Melbourne, where there was a witchy shop in the city. I was so excited to go, and I was not disappointed. I did feel a bit out of place – it was super shiny and lush in the store, and I was a 17 year old hippie with long hair. I wanted just about everything in that shop but I had just enough money to cover that book. I got home and I completely devoured it, cover to cover, many times. And you know what? I was overwhelmed. I thought I didn’t have the access I needed or the information or support system to ‘do this’ properly. I did always refer back to that book, but to be honest, I drifted away from it a little bit out of fear. I carried it every time I moved (which was a lot) and always saw that book calling out to me.
Now, we’re talking about 2004 here. The internet existed but it was nothing like the internet we have and know now. There weren’t so many opportunities to connect with people and see how others practise and live as Witches. I learned how to cast a circle, and I learned how to do basic things, but I will admit that I gave up, essentially.
Throughout my adulthood since, I’ve always identified as ‘a bit Witchy’. And I have always loved candles and crystals and incense. I meditated, I used aromatherapy and I believed wholeheartedly in holistic remedies and healing. I got into gut health. But it wasn’t until the last couple of years that I realised the only person holding me back from living as fully as I wanted to, as a practising Witch, was myself.
These days, being a solitary Witch is much easier, because we’re not really alone. We can connect with other people on Instagram and Facebook, and there are millions of websites out there. I can quickly google a herb if I don’t know what to use, and there are hundreds of spells and incantations, rituals and meditations that I can access for free. And I want you to know that there is nothing wrong with googling things. That’s what it’s there for. And there is no ‘wrong’ way to Witch.
These days, I have no idea where my Scott Cunningham book is, but I think I’ll buy another copy for the good old days.
And to anyone out there scraping their pennies together for a paperback – do it. You’ll love it. But also make the most of the beauties of the worldwide web and the fact that you can access information with a click and a type for free.
Reach out to other practitioners – let’s build this community and make it more readily accessible to everyone. I know I love my spirituality, and I find a lot of comfort and strength and empowerment in it. You can, too.