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A Modern Guide to Witchcraft and Magick
By Harmony Nice
Read by Harmony Nice
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Welcome to Generation "Hex"—an era where young Americans know that witchcraft isn't about devil worship and spooky curses, and instead are openly embracing meaningful Wiccan rituals that can enrich our lives in real-world ways. In Wicca, 24-year-old Harmony Nice—a YouTube and Instagram star with 700,000 followers—offers modern readers a guide to overcoming obstacles and maximizing happiness. She offers practical guidance on:
- using crystals, wands, tarot cards, and magical tools
- setting up an altar
- introductory spells for health and protection
- finding your own witchy path—solitary or with a coven
To my best friend Morena,
strong witch; stronger and most valuable, irreplaceable friend.
To my mother Jade, without whom this book would not have been possible, Peter, Isabella and Genevieve (and the rest of them). My crazy family, close as a family, but even closer as friends.
the highs were better with you; the lows will always be harder without you.
To the others,
loving boyfriend and incredible friends, where without them, the flowers would look less beautiful and the world would be so much less enjoyable. The many Witches & Wiccans I have encountered who have changed my path and my life, including my Inspirations, Scott Cunningham, Tituba, Stevie Nicks, Marie Laveau. Not to mention my closest Wicca friends, Georgia Burns, eclectic solitary Wiccan and the lady who has educated me on Wicca for the last four years, former Gardnerian Wiccan, current Faery Wiccan, who wishes not to be named. Last but not least, Anais Alexandre, the powerful Afro-Wiccan who was kind enough to share her information on Afro-Wicca and educate me on her path.
I was born on 19 May 1997, in a small town in Norfolk, England. My mother and father, Jade and Peter, both worked hard to provide me and my two sisters with a loving, noisy family home. According to my parents, I was a calm and cute baby, and for whatever reasons, I grew into a nutty child–the sort who couldn’t sit still, spent most of the time mixing up mud pies in the garden and didn’t ever want to be told what to do.
I didn’t really enjoy primary or high school. I wasn’t bullied, and I didn’t really have a hard time, but I just wasn’t very good at the subjects that we were taught, except for the few that I loved, Drama, English and Biology. I’ve heard some people say that they knew what they wanted to do with their lives when they were very young, but I didn’t. I knew there was something more to life–just what that was, I didn’t know.
When I was fourteen, I remember lying outside in the summer in my front garden with my mum and asking her about her family. Mum told me stories about her grandma, Maud, a kind and creative woman whose family owned a flower nursery, and with whom my mother spent a lot of her childhood, painting, baking and playing games.
For the first time, she spoke about my great-grandmother, Hilda. My curiosity was instantly piqued. Hilda was a half-German witch; she made fur coats, played with Ouija boards and cast spells on people to give them headaches when they annoyed her–so, basically nothing like the type of witch I am. This was the first time that I realised witchcraft was real; magick was real.
Even though I’ve never met these incredible women, somehow I feel connected to them both. After these conversations, it felt like a switch had been flicked in my brain. Yes, I’d had interests before–I had dabbled in hobbies, had a go at playing various musical instruments, become a bit obsessed with dyeing my hair every colour under the sun and even read up on Buddhism–but each time I grew bored and gave up.
Witchcraft was different. I began reading up on it, and over the next few months gradually learned about the different types of witches, spells and crafts, about necromancy, divination, the lot. I purchased my first set of tarot cards soon after and began tarot reading. I also started doing witchcraft. I’m cringing now–at how I had no idea what I was doing and I most certainly made mistakes–but all of this was a great learning curve for the future. I’d love to say the rest is history–I found my way and that was it–but that would be far from the truth.
My paternal grandmother, Yvonne Nice, had passed away suddenly in the previous year. Looking back, this affected me so much more than I realised at the time. We were all incredibly close to her; she had a fun-loving, larger-than-life personality, and her death left our family in a mutual state of shock for a long time. The combination of my grief and the fact that I was also dealing with a lot of other, typical adolescent stresses was probably the trigger for a long, difficult period of depression. This lasted for most of my teenage years. I also experienced a couple of negative and damaging relationships, the effects of which had severe repercussions on my mental health–resulting in self-harm, anxiety and finally dissociation. It wasn’t an easy ride, but, with hindsight, I didn’t make things easy for myself. My negativity and jealousy were through the roof; I was unkind and confused, and didn’t really give much thought to anyone else. No wonder I was so unhappy.
This period lasted longer than I care to mention, but things did improve. There was no simple fix that stimulated my recovery; it took a long time and a lot of help from many angels. As things began to improve, in 2014, I created my first YouTube video, ‘Kylie Jenner Make-up Tutorial’. As you can see, my content has changed direction slightly. I started going out more and began to try and find a purpose. Obviously, life still had its ups and downs after that, but I continued to get better. The challenging aspects of my life, such as relationships, got easier to deal with. I felt as though I had the ability to get through negative times, which I hadn’t had before.
There was one day in particular that changed everything for me. I was browsing in a second-hand bookshop in Norwich, when I came across Living Wicca by Scott Cunningham. I had heard of Wicca before, but never looked into it, and was under the popular misconception that a Wiccan was some kind of good witch (see here for the differences between Wicca and witchcraft). Scott would become my inspiration and guide for 80 per cent of everything I’ve ever done in my Wicca journey.
At this point I hadn’t really touched witchcraft for a few months and it seemed like a distant part of me. I didn’t purchase the book then, but the drawing on the cover caught my eye. It was a picture of a red-haired lady, holding her hands in the air either side of a goddess symbol. I got home that day, lay on my bed and typed the words into my phone: ‘What is Wicca?’ Yes–as typical as it sounds–that moment marked another beginning for me.
I began my Wicca journey, trying to learn something new about the faith every day. Nothing seemed to get in the way at this point. Wicca made me ask myself, what makes you happy? What makes you unhappy? It changed the way that I saw everything.
I decided to clear out anything and anyone in my life that worked against my happiness or had a destructive effect on my self-worth. I also decided to apologise and make good any harmful acts that I felt I had committed towards others. I stopped tweeting about people–using negative force to fight my unhappiness–stopped speaking behind people’s backs, stopped using social media as a platform to validate myself and, instead, started trying to be myself.
Wicca soon became something that I wanted to dedicate my life to. It has brought me many benefits. I learned acceptance, kindness and self-love. Therapy made a significant contribution to supporting my mental health, but learning about Wicca and dedicating my life to the faith helped me to see the amazing potential and compassion that surrounds us.
I started my journey as an eclectic solitary Wiccan when I was seventeen, and I honestly feel that from that day everything improved: my friendships, my relationships, my morals, my creativity, my mental health. My faith helped me to accept things; even in difficult times I still feel at one with the universe. About a year later, I performed my ceremony of self-dedication to Wicca. Before you ask, I was very fortunate in that my parents had no problems with what I was doing. In fact, I think that my mother was happy that my interests were in something that benefitted my attitude and my health. Wicca felt like it was mine at that time; I didn’t know anyone else who was Wiccan. I kept it all to myself for a long while, it felt so personal, and I think that this allowed me to develop a strong bond with the faith.
My YouTube channel was slowly flourishing, with the number of my followers beginning to rise, and one day I decided to mention in a video that I practised something called Wicca. The response that I got was overwhelming–literally thousands of people asking me to talk about the faith online and to help educate them and learn alongside them. I made my first ‘Enchanted Endeavours’ episode, a series on my channel which is still running two years later. The first episode was about crystals, and a whole new part of my journey began.
I was now in communication with a worldwide community of Wiccans, with whom I continue to share a mutual educational journey. I have had so many fascinating conversations about Wicca because of this, including with one particular practitioner, who has over thirty years’ experience and has helped me open my eyes to new elements and not just to stick to one path. It was after this conversation that I realised I’d never stop learning about Wicca and that just made me want to work harder–which is what I’m doing still. I think that one of the most important things I ever did in Wicca was make mistakes: mistakes help you grow–far more than your successes do. And here I am now–years later–a solitary Green Wiccan who is definitely still studying, and who probably will be forever.
Through my teaching and learning about Wicca on YouTube and in everyday life, it has become apparent that this is what I was meant to do. In these last four years, I have acquired the knowledge that I share in this book from so many different, amazing and inspirational people. I have also learned that there are many confusing and biased ideas about Wiccan teachings and practices. A few books that I have read now seem outdated and I have often felt that as a new Wiccan, starting my journey, I could have really benefitted from a book that explained the basics in a straightforward manner, without too much emphasis on rules!
I wanted to create this book for Wiccans of any age and length of experience. I hope that it is an honest and informative read that will minimise confusion, while also being fun, interesting and appropriate to the modern-day faith. I wanted to write about my struggles and mistakes and to dispel the common misconception that there is only one correct way to practise Wicca; because holy hell, there’s not!
I want to help people who, like me, have Wicca inside them, to guide them into something that could be as beneficial, and feel as right to them, as it does for me.
Lots of love and light, Harmony x
Wicca for a Modern World
Paganism and witchcraft have been around longer than you could probably imagine, but in the last five years, Wicca has progressed in ways that Wiccans who practised in the 1960s, or even the 1990s, could never have imagined.
Witchcraft has a long history of persecution and misunderstanding. In the sixteenth century, even being suspected of practising it could lead to being punished by death. By the eighteenth century, however, witches had mostly come to be seen as frauds, and were fined or imprisoned for using witchcraft to con and frighten people.
By the twentieth century, Wicca was firmly established by secretive covens. At this stage witches were often perceived as crazy women, wearing pointed hats and capes, dancing naked around the fire! That began to change as films and TV shows–such–as Bewitched, True Blood and the Harry Potter franchise–fashion trends and an increasing number of books on and featuring witchcraft and Wicca fostered interest.
Witchcraft and Wicca are, importantly, quite distinct. Thankfully, there is a genuine interest in the real meaning, practices and values of Wicca. We are a nature-based religion; we live and breathe true kindness and compassion, empowering ourselves and others around us, worshipping elements of our earth such as the moon, the sun, the universe, nature and the magick that they bring to us. We teach tolerance and diversity and acceptance. Solitary or in a coven, a practising Wiccan for a year or fifty years; we live our faith and respect our earth. The magick we produce comes from within and around us, not from looking the correct way or having the fanciest tarot cards.
Popular culture has brought witchcraft into the public eye, with famous personalities such as musicians Stevie Nicks and Björk alleged to be involved in witchcraft. So, the combination of readily available accurate information and people in the public eye embracing witchcraft and Wicca has helped bring more acceptance. Society is realising that we do not promote evil concepts, using magick against people to turn them into frogs, but a peaceful way of life that benefits us and those around us. People from all backgrounds, cultures, races, genders and sexualities are finding their feet in Wicca, creating their free paths within the faith. They are discovering that it is a way to empower themselves and others and are using it to improve their lives. There is now nothing to fear and we can proudly announce to the world that we are Wiccans and witches!
Wicca is certainly a faith for all but more recently, especially over the last few years, it’s opened a lot of eyes for many young women around the world. Wicca sparks creativity and allows people the choice to use elements of it to help them make their lives the way they want them to be. Lots of young girls are drawn to the faith because of the freedom and power it possesses. To me, it’s a religion that promotes equality in all; one that hasn’t been warped to suit one gender or race and has flexibility. Where some may feel trapped within other religions or even just in their everyday lives, Wicca can help break through those barriers.
Of course, with the changes that the internet has brought to humankind in the last couple of decades, Wicca has entered the online world, making it so much easier for everyone to learn. There are amazing communities of Wiccans, posting about spells, their journeys, Wicca teachings and even online covens. The answers to everything that you may be interested in or may have been wondering about are potentially just a few clicks away. There are some incredibly informative, experienced Wiccans writing online blogs, and you can access teachings from famous Wiccans which are documented online. For practical help, YouTube videos allow us to watch people carrying out their magickal workings, such as divination, spell and ritual work, which can be far more useful than just reading about the theory of these things. However, the downside with this accessible sharing of information is that anyone can publish online, so you have to be aware of occasional misinformation.
MODERN WAYS TO PRACTISE
To me, Wicca will always be about experiencing the earth, working with what you can find and practising the craft for its true meaning. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t embrace the amazing, positive aspects of what living in 2018 has brought to us.
First, as I mentioned previously, we can learn spells pretty much anywhere now. There are tons of spells, rituals and potions to make, adapt to our own intuition or use at our will, all documented online by experienced Wiccans. There are also an increasing number of books about spell work being published every year by incredible authors–not to mention the most accurate way of learning spells, from trusted witches and Wiccans.
It’s also much easier now to find the tools that we may want to use in our practices and to research different types of tools and raw materials. We can order purpose-made athames and bolines (both ritual knives) and chalices for our altars if that is what we prefer. There are also many online shops now, selling an endless supply of tarot cards, wands, crystals and even herbs that you can order and import for all of your magickal needs. This may open up opportunities for us to create spells with elements that we could have never dreamed of twenty years ago.
Wicca is no longer a secret–and before the faith’s recent growth in popularity, some practitioners may have felt it necessary to keep their activities confidential. Access to open discussion and education on the true meaning of Wicca has changed opinions on both personal and family levels and also in the media. The fact that we can (funds allowing!) relatively easily visit the ruins of the temples of ancient Rome, dedicated to our chosen deities, or that we can contact an online coven in another continent brings the possibilities of our practices, experiences, understanding and discussions to another level, if this is what we choose.
Everything is so easy to source and learn now; it’s wonderful in so many ways, but it’s important to remember that a faith based on authentic principles is far more important than making a fashion statement and how you are perceived on social media.
SOCIAL MEDIA FOR WICCANS
Social media has benefitted today’s Wiccan community in extreme amounts and, without it, a lot of us would have never even heard of the faith. It’s an incredible tool to use on our Wicca journeys. There are increasingly more Wiccans, witches and pagans educating people on YouTube; they are creating tutorials showing us how to cast specific spells, illustrating how to do divination and sharing many more personal aspects of their practices.
Instagram has also seen a new community come to light, with Wiccans either teaching or showing their followers aspects of their journey or simply enjoying the witch aesthetic that has become popular with the new wave of Wiccans online. There are also apps for pretty much anything, from tarot readings, to online spell books, to Wicca community pages for Wiccans to share and connect. In general, this is an extremely positive step forwards, but there are two sides to it. Yes–everything is easier and anything we want for our Wicca journeys, tools, herbs, information, etc., can be sourced easily and quickly. However, sometimes social media can affect people’s journeys negatively and a lot of younger Wiccans may not see the faith for what it truly is. Wicca is a faith, a way of life; you don’t need every tool or every herb, need to know every detail when you are starting out. Just because you have a crystal ball and someone else does or doesn’t have the economic means or space to have one, that doesn’t make you a better Wiccan.
The witch style, aesthetic and vibes are fun and the online communities are incredibly interesting and entertaining but, in reality any true Wiccan can live and breathe their Wicca paths with or without the internet. The foundation and beliefs of Wicca will always be as simple as they were fifty years ago. There are some things you can learn only from experience, living as a Wiccan every day. This knowledge gained from daily witchcraft and the secrets within Wicca cannot be found online.
The internet, used correctly, can be an incredible tool to help us with our practices and, as it’s a huge part of our society, why not embrace it? There are so many incredible Wiccans, witches and pagans behind this movement, so do seek out the writers, the YouTubers and the platforms we use to share our journeys with the world as witches and Wiccans.
What Is Wicca?
The Wicca faith, its traditions and principles can signify different things to different people and many aspects are open to interpretation. I have attempted to outline the basics as I understand them from my own experiences, study and day-to-day practices.
Wicca, Witchcraft and Paganism
The most common confusion about the terms Wicca, witchcraft and paganism is the difference between them. I have often been asked whether all witches consider themselves to be Wiccans, and some people think that all pagans consider themselves to be witches and many people are under the misconception that to be a Wiccan just means to be a ‘good’ witch. There is a huge difference between the three, so let us clear up the difference now. This could also help you when thinking about which path to follow from the beginning and maybe discovering which one you consider yourself to be.
Wicca is a pagan, nature- and witchcraft-based religion. A Wiccan is someone that follows pagan beliefs and also practises witchcraft as a part of their faith. We follow the eight Sabbats (festivals) and twelve Esbats (celebrations of the full moon) and practise magickal workings such as rituals and spell work at specific times related to the phases of the moon. A Wiccan follows the energy and power of the natural earth and the universe and all its natural occurrences, the moon, the sun and the stars.
Wicca also promotes a great sense of freedom and positivity. It gives you the opportunity to take a path in the faith that you feel is right for you, allowing you freedom within the faith to do things in a way that you choose. Wicca embraces the fact we all have different beliefs and opinions while still being a part of the faith; it gives us the opportunity to live how we would like to but with the guidelines of our beliefs. Wicca promotes positivity but also self-love and empowerment, while trying to diminish negative energy and behaviours. Most of all we believe in balance: we believe that there can be no good without bad and that we cannot learn if we do not make mistakes. We own our mistakes and realise we alone are in charge of our behaviour. Wiccans tend to have morals and codes that keep this balance in our lives and that ensure we are as kind to humans, animals and the earth as we can possibly be. This also means keeping cruel, manipulative and toxic behaviour towards others as far away from us as possible. Wiccans practise their magick using the natural world around them. This can be from the ingredients that they use, the earth’s energy and even the timing of when we carry out our spell work, using the moon’s phases and seasons to guide us. We incorporate magickal workings into our philosophy to keep harmful factors out of our lives and to bring in positivity and goodness.
A pagan is simply someone who follows a nature-based religion, paganism. There are several religions that could fall under the term paganism, such as Wicca, Druidry and Asatru. Pagans can be monotheistic or polytheistic, which means they can believe in one or many divine beings. Many pagans believe in one god and one goddess as they tend to believe in balance. Pagans practise nature-worship (which may sound a little strange to you, but it’s not, I promise). Many have a strong belief that the earth is sacred and they should treat it as an equal to themselves and take care of it as well as they possibly can. All of their practices follow the earth and natural occurrences such as the seasons, the moon and phases of the sun.
Last, but not least, is witchcraft. This is a practice. It is a craft. And a witch is somebody that practises witchcraft; to be specific, who practises magick and uses the earth’s energy to achieve a specific desired result. Anybody who practises a form of magickal workings, such as divination and future prediction, healing using the natural world, ritual work, spells, potions, alchemy, herbalism, etc., can be considered a witch. Sometimes even people with psychic abilities or who are spiritual mediums may consider themselves to be witches. So, a witch is someone who simply practises witchcraft in some shape or form. This means you do not have to be a Wiccan to be a witch, nor do you have to celebrate the Sabbats or follow any pagan teachings: a witch can have any or no religion. This also means you can be considered a witch if you are a Wiccan, even though ‘Wiccan’ is the preferred term, because we practise witchcraft as an element of our path.
Divination uses a variety of tools in order to gain insight into situations, or your own or other people’s lives. Many Wiccans enjoy practising divination–it is a massive subject–and I get asked so many questions about it.
Wiccans use divination to predict the future, to gain insight into the present and the past. Sometimes in life you need a little help, maybe you’re feeling confused about a situation or you want some insight into which path the situation is moving towards. By using divination, you are allowing messages to come to you by using tools in a specific way in order to hear guidance from the universe and the divine.
I believe that everybody has some kind of psychic ability, but most of us mask it unintentionally throughout everyday life. Divination can be a tool to unlock and exercise our psychic abilities, allowing them to shine through. Your subconscious psychic mind needs to take over, which can be extremely relaxing and make you feel close with the divine; it can also help you to balance your emotions.
Divination helps to bring the solutions to problems into the light. Some Wiccans prefer to stick with one form, while others like to explore and work with all methods. There are many incredible books and online resources that explain and demonstrate the different divination techniques. I would suggest researching the methods that most appeal to you and reading and watching as many tutorials as you can. Until then, here are some basics:
DIFFERENT METHODS OF DIVINATION
Tarot cards are a deck of seventy-eight cards, twenty-two of which are the major arcana and the other fifty-six, the minor arcana.
The major arcana are the cards that you might have seen before, with the names at the bottom of the cards, for example ‘The devil’, ‘The lovers’, etc. These cards are typically seen as the stronger cards: you must take notice of these during your readings as they are cards for the long-term and are related to the more significant parts of your life.
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