So you've discovered Wicca, read books, and talked to people - but you're still confused about so many things.  Don't feel alone.  The most frequently asked question I receive is, "I' m new to Wicca, what do I do next?" 

  Years ago when I first embraced Wicca the information was limited, to say the least, and most learning or teaching was done in a coven situation.  Knowledge of the Craft was still basically passed from person to person and almost everyone stayed "in the broom closet".  However, thanks to people like Scott Cunningham, Raymond Buckley, Silver Ravenwolf, and many, many brave souls, along with Llewellyn Publications, we are now flooded with information.  I truly don't know which is harder, too little information, or too much.
    I began this article, in conjunction with my daughter, thinking that we would write a short paragraph telling you what books to read and web-sites to check, etc.  But as I began to reflect back on my tenure as a novice I decided that I needed to tell you much more.

 The very first thing I want you to remember is this:  IF IT DOESN'T FEEL RIGHT FOR YOU, DON'T DO IT!  Over the years I've encountered many novices who found themselves victims of unscrupulous teachers, priests, and other people claiming to be Wiccans or Witches.  Keep an open mind - but trust your heart.  Your own Spirit knows the truth for you when it sees or hears it.  This is why, despite having met many covens, I have always decided to remain a Solitary.  I study whatever I can get my hands on and apply ONLY those things that I feel are right for me.
    Another thing I would like to talk to you about is the use of illegal drugs while in ritual.  I may step on a few toes here and if I do I apologize, but I feel I would be doing you a much greater harm if I did not caution you about this.  The official Wiccan stand on the use of illegal drugs is that we do not condone or recommend it.  There are several reasons for this:
                    1]  You could lose your freedom
                    2]  Your body is a temple where your Divine Spirit lives and the Lord and Lady may visit.  You are a precious being with a very specific task, or tasks, that you have agreed to accomplish while on this earth-walk.  Drugs and alcohol have a way of numbing you, yes, but far worse, they cut you off from your own true Divine Spirit.  Believe me - in the end you surrender to the substance, or sometimes even worse.
                    3]  What's worse?  I want to tell you about something I learned twenty years ago from my teacher during astrology class.  We were studying the relationship between certain natal planets and the natal moon.  She began to talk about surrendering our consciousness, as in the case of mediumship or the use of mind (or mood) altering drugs and alcohol.
    There are entities that are not, have never been, and will never be human.  Yet they desire to experience the pleasures of being in a human body.  Don't get me wrong here, I am not talking about "demons" or the "devil".  These entities are a different life form who do not recognize or consider the ramifications of their actions on the lives of the humans they use.  I know some of you are probably saying the same thing I said,  "I really don't believe in all that".  My teacher smiled at me in that wise, loving way she had and proceeded to tell me that it didn't matter if I believed or not.
    "If I did not believe in gravity and you did and we both climbed to the top of Sears Tower with the intent of jumping off to fly with the pigeons, we would both crash to the ground.  The effect it would have on us would be the same."
    These entities we are speaking of find easy marks in humans whose consciousness is reduced or altered through chemicals or willing submission.  How many people have you known to say "I can't believe I did that", or have no memory of what they did after too much drinking or use of drugs?  Remember this also, we are all ultimately responsible for our own behavior, no matter what.  So being under the influence does not clear the karma we incur for those actions.
    I know I sound like I am on a soap-box here, but I have lost too many sister Wiccans to drugs and/or alcohol.  We are not immune to our own human weaknesses.

 Another important point I would like to make here is that I feel it would be in your own best interest, while you are a novice, to share this new found aspect of yourself with only those you feel you can truly trust.  Those who are afraid or intolerant will make it their mission to "save you" from yourself, try to change you.  You may find that some of your friends will fall away from you.  This sounds cruel, but these are things that all of us who have come out of the broom closet have experienced.  As director for the Arkansas chapter of the Witches' Anti-Discrimination Lobby (WADL) I have investigated far too many incidents of discrimination.  This is slowly changing across the US, but there are still places where religious freedom means "so long as you believe the way the majority does".  Those you trust should be worthy of that trust.
        In the meantime, continue with your studies and spiritual growth.  The time will come when you will be strong enough that you can stand your ground and let those who cannot understand go their own way or accept you as you are.