What most people who complain about the scarceness of Wicca Advanced publications don’t seem to realize is that writing about Advanced Wicca is very near impossible, because nobody can really pin down what an Advanced Wiccan is.
People perform Pagan rituals because they get something out of it. Some people cast circles and practice spell work, some seek the Gods, and others are looking to draw closer to the natural world. These are all very different things, but they do have one thing in common: they all involve people looking for more outside of themselves. Ritual can certainly be introspective, but eventually it comes down to finding our place in this world.
Ask any ten Wiccans who have been around for more than five years what the most important aspects of their practice are, and you’ll get ten very different sets of answers. This is a good post to leave a comment, because I cannot cover all the different answers. Wicca as a religion is not that complicated. You learn the essentials, like how to cast a Circle, what the holidays are, what the tools are, and after that, then what?
Beyond Wiccan basics, many people begin to specialize. What one person finds meaningful will not be all that appealing to another. Some want to learn to lead group rituals and teach; some don’t. Some decide to focus their practice on healing and become massage therapists, herbalists or midwives. Some lean toward a more shamanic approach and learn about trance dance, drumming, and astral journeying. Some want to learn more about ceremonial magick. Some would rather learn about plants and make things grow.
Wicca does not have long term goals like heaven or nirvana. Norse have a hope of getting to Valhalla - or at least staying away from Nastrand. And we all have the seasons and the moon, cycling around the year. A never ending circle of life. But what else is there? Wicca is still a growing religion; so how do you grow and go deeper in your practices?
You deepen your understanding of those basics, and then you branch out, adding different subjects and techniques that you consider vital to your own personal practice. You find ways to integrate your Spirituality into your daily life.
There is actually a lot of things to learn in Wicca. Listen to podcasts. Travel to sacred sites and your ancestors home. Read books. Attend gatherings. Do daily rites. Write a book. Talk to others, Pagan and Non-Pagan...
Learn about plants. Get out into nature. Pick up a book on your local flora and fauna, spend time in the woods, grow a selection of herbs in your kitchen, or a flower or vegetable garden outside. Many Urban Pagans have access to roof top gardens or city parks. More Rural Pagans should try and challenge their plant knowledge, such as going to a different forest. Watch the animals and look at the rocks as well. Take a class on horticulture at your local college extension. Volunteer at a local metro park or nature center.
Plant magic is an age old tradition dating back to ancient Egyptian times, it has been used for many purposes such as healing, self empowerment, love spells and protection. Each plant has its own magical properties and strengths and can be used to add power to any kind of spell. With their multiple uses, plant magic is one of the most popular arts used today. 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.
Study history. There's more to history than what was at school. 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, for the Norse culture, 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.
If you are interested in Anglo-Saxon customs, take a look at Swain Wodening’s Path to the Gods: Anglo-Saxon Paganism for Beginners and Hammer of the Gods: Anglo-Saxon Paganism in Modern Times. How about learning about rune stones and Viking travels? Or about Seidr's in history. A side note, Seidr and Norse Magic is a very advanced practice with limited written historical content so talking with others will be helpful. There are other sources out there, including blogs, sites to visit, books and websites that contain good information. Later on, as you practice, you'll understand rituals a lot better if you can imagine them in a historical context.
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 folk have all spent hours making casseroles. If you don't know your way around your home's kitchen, now's the time to learn.
Breathe and eat correctly is one of the Thirteen Goals of a Witch. Our religious tradition has no dogma, so different Paths will define terms like ethical eating or dietary values in different ways. Dietary habits and choices play a significant role in health, mortality and can also define cultures and play a role in religion. Blessings and thanks can also be given before eating.
Volunteer. Some 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. Most covens and groves also 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 dirt. If you live in a city, then there is at least one homeless shelter that helps homeless people with meals, beds and other services.
Doing harm to anything, even by neglect or apathy, violates Wiccan ethics. Volunteering is generally considered an unselfish activity and is intended to promote good or improve human quality of life. In return, this activity can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect. You'll gain the ability to do things for others with no expectation of payment.
Study religion. Okay, I know it sounds trivial, why would you want to study Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Scientology, Whatever to go deeper into Wicca? Well, a lot of times there's a lot more there than you've really paid attention to. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to derive morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. And if you studied history, you will find many times when religions mix and/or take on local cultures into their own practices. Such as Christian Easter with rabbits and eggs coming from Pagan Spring Equinox with rabbits and eggs.
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. What is science? Is Christmas Pagan? Who is God? Where are humans? Meditation vs. Prayer? 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.
Look at the stars. 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. If your city has a planetarium, go there.
Pay attention to the phases of the moon. Practice moon rites such as the Esbats. The moon's regular phases make it a very convenient timepiece and the periods of its waxing and waning form the basis of many of the oldest calendars. In many traditions of modern Pagan cosmology, all things are considered to be cyclical, with time as a perpetual cycle of growth and retreat tied to the sun's annual death and rebirth. It will come in useful later on, particularly if you develop an interest in astrology.
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. 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.
Exercise the body is one of the Thirteen Goals of a Witch, along with breathe, meditate and eat correctly. This is a difficult goal for many people but it is an important one. Our bodies are wondrous things that the God and Goddess have blessed us with. We should respect the bodies we have been given and keep them in shape.
Trace your roots. Since time immemorial, humans have experienced feelings of warm attachment not only to parents, siblings and close family, but also to the generations of family members who preceded us. The love and respect we hold for both the living and the departed are the basis of strong families and caring communities, and ultimately, they are what bind us as a society.
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.
Be a steward of the Earth. Nearly all Pagans and Wiccans regard our planet as sacred! Our Gods and Goddesses can be found in oceans, rivers, forests and mountains. In many cultures, Earth is the primal Mother of most acknowledged Goddesses and powers. Some pre-Christian cultures envision a World Tree that binds the universe together. In Norse mythology, Jord was the personification of the Earth.
Take some time to learn about things you can do to help save the planet. Pick up trash along the roadside and recycle or reuse it. Begin a recycling program at your workplace 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 honor.
Learn a skill. Most Norsemen were all-round handymen, but some had special skills. There were farmers, potters, leather-workers and smiths. Most Viking men knew how to handle and build a boat. And many men and women could fight to protect the family or to support their chieftain. Women did spinning and weaving. They looked after the children, made the family's clothes and cooked the two meals a day most families ate. On the farm, women and children milked the animals and made cheese. My own ancestors were farmers, saloon keepers, miners, dress makers, ship navigators and more.
If you 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?" Maybe 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". 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. As you are making the item, keep the God or Goddess you are honoring in mind. This can also come in handy later as something to sell and make money.
Wicca is not just about choosing a divinatory tool or finding your power animal. It’s about living the Path, having sanctity and purpose infuse your every cell.
One of the best ways you could personally honor our Gods and Goddesses, is to live a life of which they are proud. A life with strength and honor. Raising our families, we're loyal to our friends, and we get things done.
The Divine watch to see what we do with these lives they have given us. If they are proud of who we are and what we do, on occasion, in times of need they will give us a nudge, or a bit of wisdom, or some much needed luck. Try to establish a daily routine. It's easy to let your studies go by the wayside if you're all by yourself, so establishing a daily routine will help you keep on task. Whether your routine includes meditation, jewelry making, writing poetry, reading, gardening, ritual work, or whatever, try to do something each day that helps you work towards achieving your spiritual studies.
Continue learning and growing and be willing to accept that sometimes new knowledge will come from unexpected sources. There is no right or wrong way to be friends with the Divine. No one can tell you how to do this. Let the Divine and your own nature guide you.