One of the questions I receive the most in my travels and hanging out on the witchy internet is, “Where are the advanced books? What should I read to take the next steps?” It’s worth asking first, though, “What does it mean for a book to be advanced?”
Is it just a question of containing difficult magical techniques? Secrets? Tons of exercises? Over-the-top requirements that you sacrifice your personal or professional life in order to be a sincere practitioner? Does it have to be exclusive—available only to a chosen few? Or serve as a key to the Mysteries of the universe?
The reality is that what content we consider “advanced” depends on the practitioner. Each of us will encounter concepts and techniques that come relatively easy and feel natural, and others that are challenging and require time and practice. What seems secret and exclusive to one witch might be completely obvious to another. And as for the Mysteries? Well, in my experience those rarely have much to do with books at all.
Instead of looking for advanced books (and they’re out there, for sure, but it depends on who you are and what you’re looking for), I’ve found it much more helpful to think about advancing practices. In other words, ask yourself, “What are things I can do to take the next step in my own practice?” And, perhaps more importantly, “What’s getting in my way right now?”
Often, the thing that levels up our practice isn’t more stuff or more book knowledge. It’s learning to be flexible and creative in our approaches, and having the courage to try things, to do things a bit differently from other witches. For a lot of people, the difference between being a beginner and being an advanced practitioner is the amount of attention paid to the fundamentals: meditation, reflection, building relationships in the spirit realms, observance of natural cycles, and, depending on your particular tradition or path, perhaps prayer or worship.
When I’ve leveled up as a witch, it’s been because of lessons learned in this kind of quiet consistency. Not giant, complex rituals periodically, but everyday, small actions: tending an altar, keeping a magical journal, observing seasonal changes, honoring my gods. Books are gateways, and good ones will challenge you and introduce new ideas, but none of those things mean anything if you aren’t putting that knowledge to use. I bet you already have some inkling of the things you should be doing to grow in your practice (for me, it’s meditation—I am a master of excuses as to why I don’t always meditate the way I should). Are you paying attention to the basics and maintaining a regular practice?
That’s harder than it sounds, I know! But it doesn’t have to be. In my latest book, The Witch’s Path: Advancing Your Craft at Every Level, I break down some specific strategies for building something that accommodates your lifestyle, while still pushing your boundaries and encouraging growth. No secrets, and no need to get more stuff or master any particularly complex skills. Instead, we re-frame our thinking, go back to basics, learn to set effective goals, and find ways to better measure our own growth.
Our thanks to Thorn for her guest post! For more from Thorn Mooney, read her article, “Next Level Witchcraft: Recognizing a Rut and Taking Steps Forward,” or visit her on Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.