Ten Things to Learn Besides Wicca
By Patti Wigington
You finally sat down and had The Big Talk with your parents and they still won't let you practice Wicca in their house. It's not fair, you might just hate them for a few minutes, and they're the meanest parents ever. Take heart - there's a positive side to this. If you can't practice Wicca while you live under their roof, that means you'll have all kinds of free time to do other stuff. And that other stuff can be just as educational to a future Pagan or Wiccan hopeful. Or even if you are an Open Wiccan, these are still good things to learn.
1. Learn About Plants
Yes, I'm serious. Plants. Pick up a book on your local floral and fauna, spend time in the woods, grow a selection of herbs, or a flower or vegetable garden. Take a class on horticulture at your local college extension, if it's available. Volunteer at a local metro park or nature center. Study up on the Doctrine of Signatures so that by the time you're out on your own, you'll know exactly why herbs work the way they do.
2. Study History
Sure, they make you take an entire year to learn about a bunch of dead white guys, but there's more to history than that. If Celtic history is more your flavor, grab a copy of Ronald Hutton's The Druids or Peter Beresford Ellis' books on the Celts. Or the Germanic Poetic Edda, a collection of stories first written down about a thousand years ago. Choose the history you want to learn about and learn it. Later on, when you begin practicing, you'll understand rituals a lot better if you can imagine them in a historical context.
3. Get Cooking
If you can learn to follow a recipe, you can learn to follow spell and ritual instructions. Not only that, Pagans will have a potluck at the drop of a hat, and you don't want to be showing up with a box of Chips Ahoy when your coven sisters have all spent hours making casseroles. If you don't know your way around your home's kitchen, now's the time to learn.
Some high schools require their students to do a certain amount of community service, and if you go to one of them, then you're a step ahead. Be assured that most covens expect their members to be useful members of the community as well. Spend a few hours each week volunteering at your local library shelving books, or at the animal shelter scooping up. You'll gain something from the experience as well - the ability to do things for others with no expectation of payment.
5. Study Your Parents' Religion
Okay, I know it sounds silly, why would you want to study Christianity / Judaism / Islam / Scientology / Whatever as a precursor to studying Wicca? Well, because believe it or not, a lot of times there's a lot more there than you've really paid attention to. If you've grown up in a certain faith, you probably take it for granted. Take some time to really ask questions. Go in depth, and figure out what it is you disagree with or agree with. You may find that the religion you've been brought up in isn't so bad after all, even if it's not the right one for you, and you'll certainly gain a better understanding.
6. Look At The Stars
If your city has a planetarium nearby, go there. For the ancients, so much of what they knew was determined by tracking the movement of the stars in the heavens. Learn about the constellations, the movement of the planets, all the things that go on thousands of light years away. It will come in useful later on, particularly if you develop an interest in astrology.
7. Get Healthy
Part of a well-balanced life includes taking care of yourself not only spiritually but physically. Exercise, even if it's just going for a walk on your lunch period at school. Take a yoga class or meditate daily. Eat a balanced diet. Add whole grains into your diet, cut back on sugars and empty calories. You can tie this into your new cooking lessons too - learn to prepare healthy meals for your entire family.
8. Trace Your Roots
Think you might be interested in Norse religion because your family's Scandinavian? Great - start learning about your ancestors. Figure out who they were, where they came from, what they did, etc. There are a ton of great genealogy resources on the web to get you started and this is a project you can share with your whole family.
9. Be a Steward of the Earth
Nearly all Pagans and Wiccans regard our planet as sacred, so quit throwing your Cheetos wrappers on the ground! Take some time to learn about things you can do to help save the planet. Begin a recycling program at your school if you don't have one. Organize a newspaper collection drive and donate the money to an earth-friendly organization. The earth is our mother, so learn to treat her with respect.
10. Learn a Skill
When you get old enough to join a coven, if that's what you want to do, one question that may be asked of you is, "What can you do for us?" If you can say, "Well, I sew so I could help people make ritual robes and I taught myself metalworking so I'm good at making jewelry, or I've just taken up candle making…". Learn to do something with your hands - it not only occupies the body, but the mind as well. Find something you love and practice it until you've turned it into something beautiful. This can also come in handy later as something to sell and make money.