By: Willow Rose
To Know To Will To Dare To Keep Silent
These are the four governing principals for the practice of all witchcraft. Each is simple at first glance, and means just what you would think, to have knowledge, to be willing to apply that knowledge, to dare to test your limits, and to keep it all under your witch's hat.
However, they issue a deeper command, even in simple witchery.
To Know: As I touched on in Simple Witchery Part One the highest order of business for a witch is know self above all else. Does this mean I have to embark on a quest, submit to extensive therapy, unpack all my bags and rattle the skeletons out of my closet before I can be a practicing witch?
No. But it does mean that a large part of your ongoing practice is devoted to knowing what makes you tick, why you do what you do, why you want what you want—the unvarnished truth. This is mostly because witch crafting works with intent, and if you don’t know your motivations, your intent can backfire. In fact, it will backfire . . . every witch has at least one story of learning that lesson.
I spent years as a personal development coach. I helped clients discover their motivational style, to better understand their desires and choices. When taken down to the lowest common denominator we are all motivated by fear and reward, with each at the opposite ends of the continuum. In a very simplistic example, if a bartender took the job because the tips are good and s/he needed to pay the rent, that leans toward a motivation of fear—afraid of not having enough to pay for those necessities. If s/he took the job because of s/he likes meeting people, loves to talk and listen, and finds the atmosphere energizing, in other words loves the job, that is much closer to reward motivation.
The example above just touches the tip of the iceberg, but you can see how it works. As a witch, do I want to cast a banishing spell because someone is truly causing me harm, or because I’m a little jealous of them, or annoyed by their needs or any number of low vibrational motives. In such cases, it might be far better for me to work on myself, and if I cast any spell, to make it one for tolerance. At the very least, if I go ahead and work a banishing, knowing the truth of my motivation will allow me to cast a much more effective spell.
A final note here; magic is not always the right or best solution and you have to know that too. Exhaust all mundane (non-magical) solutions first. Instead of casting a binding spell on a coworker who is bothering you—distance yourself if possible, or offer workable solutions in a calm, non-threatening way. If that doesn’t work, take it up with human services.
So first, know yourself, the real you, warts and all as they say. Next, know the craft, the history of it, the thought leaders past and present, and the mechanics of it. You can only achieve this through study and practice. If you’re a joiner, there are some great schools to be found online, and mentoring groups in social media. If you’re just starting out, I recommend a mentoring with an advanced, ethical witch. Try casting a spell to for your mentor to arrive—it's good practice.
You don't have to spend a dime on your education, there are many knowledgable writers at patheos.com, the Wild Hunt and Circle Sanctuary under the vertical Teachings, to name just a few. There are virtual classrooms and entire schools, from free to costly. Be discerning if you're just starting out, for every reputable site and ethical thought leader, there are dozens who will lead you astray. Whether you join groups online or in real life, go slow. DO NOT share personal information lightly. Aside from practical concerns, you are wading into the waters of witchcraft and those with nefarious motive can use information in spellworking against you. Conjure solid boundaries around yourself and work protection magick.
Finally, To Know is the lifetime pursuit of a practicing witch. The wisest witch is aware that she doesn’t know it all and never will.
To Will: This is your intent. The magic of witchcraft is actually willing something to happen with focused intent, understanding of the laws of nature (including human nature) and physics, and directing energy.
The caveat with this one is to remember, witchcraft can not do for you, what you will not do yourself. In other words, you can’t work magic to help you find the perfect job, and then not do everything in your (will) power to look for that job and meet the requirements.
You can’t cast a spell for needed money, and not direct your will and actions toward manifesting that money. In other words, align yourself with opportunities to receive, whether that's getting a job, a side gig, selling something(s) of value, etc. That said, your spell might manifest an unexpected windfall, like an inheritance, a gift, a winning lottery ticket. That's the mystery.
To Dare: For me, to dare means to take the risk, because being a witch is risky. We might not have witch hunts, persecution, and death by drowning, hanging or burning at the stake, but it’s still not all that safe to openly identify as a witch, despite the growing popularity around the idea of being a witch. Coming out of the broom closet may not be as risky as it once was, but it could mean losing relationships with family members and loved ones, workplace discrimination or even losing your job, or harassment from certain communities.
To dare also means daring to believe witchcraft is real and that it works. It means daring to believe you are a powerful being (we all are), and that you are capable to wield your power wisely. In this vein, to dare is to lay claim to your sovereignty, your divine-given right to strive for that which you desire, your right to autonomy, your right to justice, your right to equality.
To Keep Silent: Again, pretty self explanatory on the surface. Historically, keeping silent meant to keep your practice secret, only share it with coven mates if you had them. Silence was self preservation. But there were, and are, family and legacy considerations for keeping silent too—just like secret recipes, a family might keep their particular ways of witchery only in the family, passing it down through the generations.
In my opinion, it also means to be circumspect about your practice, being careful not to share with those who would misuse or cheapen it, who are interested because it’s a fad. Keeping silence also speaks to refraining from proselytizing. The general rule of thumb is that somebody who seems interested in learning more, must first ask of their own accord. Remember the spell I suggested for finding your mentor? When s/he appears, you'll likely have to ask for what you want.
Finally, I see keeping silent as part of my personal spell work, in not broadcasting specific spells I've set to work. Cast your spell and keep it to yourself. Keep it in your journal, or book of shadows to later note its success or failure. In this way, your practice grows and you become a proficient, powerful witch.
Remember—simple does not mean lazy. There is no room for lazy in effective witchcraft. Study, make time for devotion/meditation, practice the craft (work spells, keep notes, and track your practice). Prepare your spells carefully, researching correspondences, moon phases, and other influencing factors. A simple, consistent practice every day is better than an elaborate ritual once a month on full moon, or whenever you have time.
My vision for Simple Witchery is to help you create an effective practice that fits your lifestyle, your schedule, your resources and, yes, your finances . . . because the only thing you need to be a witch, is within you—your belief and your intent. The rest is window dressing—not to say that window dressing isn't fun!
Start where you are, go slow, and grow.
Blessed Be and Journey Well