And now a few words for beginners...

This is an essay by Thyme, the proprietress of Thyme's Pagan Grove. I am extremely pleased to have made her acquaintance, and of course to have her opinions included here. It's probably worth mentioning that she is not yet quite out of her teens. She is far more qualified to address this topic than I am. Enjoy, and if it's useful to you, I'm sure she'd love to hear it.

Beginning down a Pagan path when you are young and still living at home with your parents can be a frustrating experience. Even if you've managed to sift through the thousand-and-one pages of contradictory information and have gleaned the larger concepts, you are still faced with the logistical problem of actually practicing your religion. This seems more daunting than it is. Descriptions of elaborate altars complete with god and goddess statues, goblets, athames, and pentacles might bring images of your mother dangerously waving an athame looming into your mind– "Where did you get a knife [insert full name here]?!?" Don't let these so-called "rules" hold you back. If there is one thing to know about Paganism, it's that there is no "right" way to go about practicing it.

What brings power and meaning to a ritual or spell is your intent– not all the special effects. All the "tools of the trade" are just that– tools to help you raise power. They aren't the source of it; you are. You can perform magick with nothing but yourself and a quiet place to sit. If this does not sound all that appealing, you may want to reconsider the reasons you began down this path in the first place. If only the superficial aspect is appealing to you, you may need to take some time to look inside yourself for more meaningful motivation before you continue down the path.

If you are ready and willing to find ways to practice your craft, even on a limited basis, the first step is to choose a place to do your magick. It may just be the foot of your bed, or a window in your room. Now, just because you can do magick without any props, doesn't mean you have to. Even if you are not allowed candles, incense or other things which light curtains and bed sheets on fire, there are many other, less flammable, resources available. A lot of magick can be worked with water, stones and soil. Remember– creativity only exists within bounds. Limitations can inspire you to come up with your own ingenious versions of spells or rituals that you can perform in whatever space you have. It may also get you writing your own spells and rituals which is the best thing someone new to Paganism can learn. Your own words will be more powerful simply because they come from you and speak directly to your intent.

This solves the problem of how to practice within your limitations. But there is also another problem– the source of those limitations, your parents/guardians. Even if they aren't fervently religious, there are reasons you may be uncomfortable sharing your new beliefs with them other than fear of being dragged to an exorcism or a two-week revival camp. For my own part, I knew my parents wouldn't object or even forbid me from practicing. I was afraid of something that, for me, was far worse. I was afraid they would laugh, or roll their eyes, call it a phase and not take me seriously. I knew I couldn't take their rejection and remain confident. I have been Pagan now for five years. My parents now know what I believe. I let things out bit by bit. They don't necessarily know about magick yet– maybe in another five years.

Whatever your reasons for secrecy, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, the fact that you are concerned about your parents' feelings is a good sign. Spite is not a good reason to do anything, and it is a particularly bad reason to practice a religion. Second, you shouldn't go about it as if you are hiding something from them. Don't be secretive and surreptitious– you'll only end up seeming suspicious. Instead, treat your practice as a private part of your life, not some dreaded secret. As such, try to choose times to practice that you really have to yourself; in the morning or before bed.

If you should get "walked in on," don't get that deer-in-headlights guilty look. Ask if you can be left alone for a moment. Explain that you are taking some time for yourself (to relax, or what have you). It may be best not to lock your door because this might rouse suspicion. Use your own discretion. If it should come down to a confrontation, try to sit down and talk to your parents about your beliefs. There are a lot of good things you can give them to read that might help them understand and help to alleviate any fears of devil worship or animal sacrifice. Remember, be calm and respectful. If you start a fight, your parents will be a lot less likely to take you seriously.

As you continue down this path, take everything you read with a grain of salt. Find you own truths, your own view of deity. Write your own spells. Create your own rituals. Don't let your ideas become set in stone. Let them grow and change with you. This makes them stronger, not weaker. Above all, never follow blindly what others may insist is "the way," and remember never to force your own truths on others. Blessed Be and good luck on your journey!

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