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Patti Wigington

Five Mistakes New Pagans Make

By February 9, 2014

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Recently I participated in an online conversation that drifted into the subject of mistakes we've made in our lives as Pagans. I know that for me, personally, the Pagan that I was twenty-odd years ago, when I was a n00bie, was far different than the person I've become today. I'm able to look back at that person I was and think, "Oh, you poor kid, you've got so much to learn."

Because we've all made mistakes. In fact, thanks to the folks I was chatting with, I had a good laugh over some of the stuff I know I've said and done in the past. The good part, though, about recognizing your own flaws and errors is that once you realize how ridiculous they are, you're far less likely to repeat them.

So, I offer this in the spirit of being helpful, and trying not to take myself - or anyone else - too seriously. Five Mistakes New Pagans Make and How To Avoid Them. What mistakes did YOU make as a new Pagan? Share yours in the Comments section below?
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March 27, 2012 at 9:56 am
(1) Kat says:

The worst mistake I made was not protecting myself before I started to do any ritual. I thought I didn’t need to do it every time, especially if I was doing something for the good of another person.
Wrong!! I encountered some very evil spirits in the spiritual realm and here in the form of humans. They not only attacked me, but persons close to me.
I learned very quickly to erect a shield each and every time I do a ritual. And to keep my wards in good defensive order around what is mine. Including friends and family.
Now I can recognise someone whose soul is black or blank before I have a problem with an encounter.

March 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm
(2) Devalon says:

Patti, you have really nice website! I have used a lot of rituals and information from it. I have website too, but you can not read it, because you do not speak the same language as I do. ( I am from europe – non english speaking country ). It is a pity, but if you want I can translate one from my articles to English for you. For example, one about: why am I pagan and how I live? I should say something to topic too:

The worst mistake I have ever made was pact with voodoo spirits. If I knew it I would not do it. Voodoo belongs to Haitians and we Europeans and Americans can not understand it. We can only try, but if we do not have voodoo blood it is not possible. Who ignore this soon he will see impact on his life, friends, health and psychic condition. So the worst experience was ignoring my own culture and habits. When I am white I will never be black, red or yellow. If my DNA contains pagan genom I will never be holy Budha-Asthar-Alien.

April 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm
(3) Dragonfaerie says:

Hrm. I didn’t make any of those mistakes, though as someone who’s experienced and encounters newbies looking for info online, I’m glad you brought up the “please think for me” thing. Bothers the, er, cakes and ale out of me. Your path is YOUR path… I can give you some hints on what to do, but ultimately it’s YOUR trip to plan.

I did make the mistake of “coming out of the broom closet” too soon to my parents. They were kind of freaked out, and I didn’t have a lot of information for them. I think they only started to relax when they realized that this new religion was actually a positive influence on me, and not at all like the movies or TV.

April 2, 2012 at 5:15 pm
(4) Lianne says:

I’m still what I’d call a newish Pagan (a few years now, with some thinking about it before that), but I don’t think I’ve made these particular mistakes. I do dislike Christianity, as the religion I was raised in and came to feel strongly against over time, but I’m definitely capable of having friendly conversations about religion with Christians as long as they stay friendly.

For me, I think my mistakes have been more in the area of believing everything I hear. And not just with reading (seriously, how is anyone supposed to know which books are the good ones and which ones are the ridiculous ones?!), but also in the community. People tend to say things about how to be a “good Pagan”, but really mean how to be a Wiccan. It took me a while to learn how to interpret things people say in a community that’s 99% Wiccan, with everyone assuming everyone else is Wiccan too.

In other words, no, I don’t need to read all your Wiccan books to be a good Pagan. I learn everything I need to from the Earth, and from books about the Earth, nature, etc., and I read other things out of curiosity and to broaden my horizons. :)

April 3, 2012 at 8:59 am
(5) Lady Elirea Earthsong says:

I think my biggest mistake, was jumping into spell casting too soon. I had just started studying, and I mean just. I had probably only read 1 book, and it was not a very good one. I still have it though, it is nice to see where I started! I decided to try, what else, a love spell…boy did that back fire.

the best advice I can give, is to take your time. Become comfortable in the lifestyle before you dive into spell casting. It makes a world of difference.

April 3, 2012 at 10:27 am
(6) Cinaed says:

@Kat: Wow! I made that mistake! I’ve also left ritual without proper grounding… 0_o

April 3, 2012 at 11:26 am
(7) Amarisae says:

I’ve made the mistake of being very closed to Christianity early on, largely due to the pressure family made on me to ‘come back’ (though I was never there), and certainly I remember thinking, before I started spellcasting or rituals, “Wouldn’t it be cool if it were like the Craft?” – and many other cringe-worthy, eye-rolling things along that vein.

I never did the goth-y pagan thing, but I took a break after about 3 years of self-training, somewhat discouraged that I felt I wasn’t going anywhere and I couldn’t share it. Then I met my husband, who happened to be pagan, and has been since he was 10… and all that info that had been percolating in my brain combined with the knowledge, critical thinking skills and maturity I’d developed over the 8 years of abstinence/non-practice, and suddenly my path opened wide and I understood what all those books I’d read had been talking about… and how full of utter crap some of them were ;)

I think another of the big problems is that when a new pagan reads a book or 10 books or 100 books, they don’t dissect it enough. It’s ok to pick apart this aspect, and that aspect, and leave the rest behind. Once I figured out that all the ritual and whatnot was about making it real for *me*, to focus my intent and will, it made it a lot easier to understand. Your deities don’t care if you put lavender or skunkweed on your alter to honour them, but they understand the *intent* and meaning behind YOUR choice of choosing lavender over skunkweed.

April 3, 2012 at 11:29 am
(8) Druid who walks alone says:

We all make mistakes…its just human nature. Some mistakes are minor and seriously funny. Others can/are somewhat to gravely dangerous. Hopefully we all survive and learn.

My biggest mistake was and still is not believing in myself. Because of this, I lost touch with all things and became lost. I have since returned to my feelings and am trying to get back to where I belong….but it is very hard to make up for 35 years of stupidly ignoring my beliefs. I know I have a long way to go; I can only hope that I may somehow make up for it.

And now I jump off the soapbox.

April 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm
(9) racheal dawn says:

thank you Amarisae! I have been wondering what is going on lately. I have been studying and working as a Solitary witch for about 5 years and suddenly found myself ,well, not really losing interest but just not “there” for the past couple of months. there have been a lot of upheavals in my life lately and most of them not very good. Your comment about “taking a break” made me feel that it’s o.k. and you can pick up where you left off. thanks & Blessed Be sister.

April 3, 2012 at 12:04 pm
(10) evie says:

I just posted on my wall today something similar!! LOL.


Why do people say things on social networks, texts, on phones, in cars (road rage), that they wouldn’t dare say to my face? Please take that energy and use it for something positive or go hate somewhere else. I have enough on my plate to even care about your lazy ass having nothing better to do than yell your cheezy opinion over a pic someone posted, being added to a group that you can easily remover yourself from, or start talkn trashy two-faced rumors.

As a human being, I ADMIT TO BEING part of the group that rubs people the wrong way from time to time.

Yes. Netiquette exists. The net is also growing and evolving everyday. As technology changes, so does netiquette. Along with trying to be respectful of other people’s wishes, other people need to respect that no one can read minds; mistakes get made; it is not personal.

April 3, 2012 at 12:10 pm
(11) racheal dawn says:

would like to share the story of my first Ritual and circle casting and I hope it fits in “mistakes”. I remember being very excited about doing this and being very careful about gathering the right color candles, having all the “right” tools & supplies. I started by sweeping my circle with my special blessed & consecrated broom then took my wand in my right hand and walked deosil to cast my circle. Did you see what happened here,lol. I was pretty amazed at the rise in temperature in the room and reallly felt the energy. I was pretty impressed until it dawned on me I had cast a circle with me on the outside of it! oooops.

April 3, 2012 at 12:29 pm
(12) Witch1 says:

For me the biggest mistake, was not recognizing and acknowledging the signs that life was literally throwing at me my whole life before coming to my chosen spiritual path.
The second biggest, and I’m not certain that it is a mistake, at least not every time, is getting into spiritual and theological discussions with close minded people.
If by some miracle I just happen to get them to realize, “Oh, they’re not a bunch of devil worshipers.” or understand that what I believe is not Anti-Christian, then it is a positive.
Unfortunately, most “religious” people are in no way open minded and it results in them leaving angry at anyone that doesn’t believe as they do. And I was subject to that same anger when I first started to be more open about what I believed.
My advice? When first coming to your spiritual path, keep it to yourself or other pagan/wiccan/witch friends and acquaintances. In the beginning you are not armed with enough knowledge or experience to truly represent and defend your beliefs in a positive, logical and rational manner.

April 3, 2012 at 12:45 pm
(13) dyana56 says:

The biggest mistake I made as a younger, much more naive Pagan was to put my trust into someone who was obviously very powerful, but whose motives were at best chaotic, at worst completely dark and “evil”. It took me many years to escape them and their influence, many more to heal my mind and spirit. If I learned anything from this episode in my journey, it is to trust no one without complete investigation, and never surrender yourself to someone or something. Protect yourself, there are plenty of predators in the Magickal world.

April 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm
(14) Amarisae says:

@Witch1: I totally agree! Wait until you’re in a place where you can intelligently and respectfully discuss your beliefs before you tell anyone. I remember chatting with my mom in a pub, saying, “Mom, I’m pagan.” Her response was, “It would have been easier if you’d told me you were a lesbian.” (Years later, we laughed, because at the same pub, she said, “I’ve decided to become a catholic.” To which my response was, “It would have been easier if you’d told me you were a lesbian.”)

Be strong in your beliefs before you discuss them with potentially … well, let’s say ‘stimulating’ or ‘provocative’ people, because otherwise you’re going to cause yourself a crisis of faith that you really don’t need to go into as a baby pagan. The best move you can make is to simply become a sponge. And while you might be very enthusiastic at the time, it’s hard to convince people you are serious when you don’t really know what you’re so excited about yet, as you’re still exploring your path.

@racheal dawn: Glad I could help! Sometimes we all need to let ideas percolate before we can manifest them in our lives. There are no mistakes, only lessons ;) (how cliche is that… yet so true :) )

April 3, 2012 at 4:28 pm
(15) Rindill says:

LOL! There is a basic tenet I have which saves time and tons of upset – in ALL areas of life, but specially when it deals with others supposed or real notions of stereotyped religions/spirituality.

Never argue with the uninformed.

I am not a book of shadows (or whatever the current book is) thumper. I learned for me, that what I ponder, have and do is very personal and no one’s business, really – It is where I create and draw my power and my strength, and I don’t need to muddy it up with other’s non-aligning energy, or by creating situations or statements that do nothing but open everyone up to upsets/discussions that go nowhere, and leave both sides with jumbled blech energy. I do not feel the need to yell it from the rooftops or push it in someone’s face.
A very livable thing is that I don’t need to make statements or defend my core, and yet in meeting other pagans or like minds, the recognition is always there anyway. It’s not about WHAT you are, but HOW you are. Perception comes way in advance of physical words.
The uninformed (those who lash out – on anything) usually don’t have enough willing awareness of, or understanding to be able to listen or converse. So I find that simply being all you are, and bringing it to how you live, works just fine.

April 4, 2012 at 7:06 am
(16) Witchesbrew269 says:

Oh, my this is a good one. I think most of us had one or more of these. lol. I started learning about Witchcraft when I was in 7th grade. The main problem is that the only info I had available was the school and town libraries. Well lets just say in a small town that their was not and true witchcraft or Wicca books on hand. Well I read learned started calling my self a Witch. What was the problem you may ask? All the books available where on white and black majik, all the info on the craft its self was basicly what was in the Witches hammer so from 7th grade till I was 17 or 18 I was basicly a Devil worshiper. About 17 or 18 a actual Pagan bookstore opened in my town and I met two very wise crones and Goddess bless them they whooped me in the right direction.lol. So since then I went on to be an actual Witch and as of now I am a practising Druid. Talk about from one end of the spectrum to the other, but I learned alot from the study of the old unacurite books and How the horrers of our religions past.

April 4, 2012 at 10:43 am
(17) Meadowhawk says:

I am laughing as I think back to my teenage years. Even though I had never heard of Paganism back then (I thought I was the only one!), I was still very much in the same mindset regarding such things as I am now in my 50s. It’s probably just as well I didn’t know there were actual religions that went along with my beliefs and experiences, because the Teenage High Priestess route would have no doubt been very appealing to me!

On the other hand, I am so glad that information is more freely available to young people and those just beginning their Pagan journey than it was back when I was a kid.

April 4, 2012 at 11:04 am
(18) Meadowhawk says:

Amarisae, I really enjoyed your post about coming out to your mother. When my family first began to notice that I had an alter with pictures, statues and other representations of Deity and Elements, they “naturally” assumed I had been sucked into a brain-washing cult.

I never heard my parents say anything negative about other religions, but they clearly did not understand the ideas of diversity or following one’s own path. In my neighborhood, the only Catholic family were seen as the “slightly weird” ones amongst the rest of “us” Christians. We of course had heard about Jewish folk, but didn’t know any. So, if I wasn’t Christian, Catholic (oh yes, Catholics were “different”) or Jewish, there was only one thing left – brainwashing cult.

My parents were very, very worried for quite a while. Time went by though, and amazingly enough I never went to live on a “closed compound”, nor did I give all my money away to some Mysterious & Charasmatic Leader. Eventually my folks had to admit that I was really just a reasonably good person who did and believed things they didn’t understand. Go figure.

April 4, 2012 at 11:38 am
(19) M says:

I’d surmise my biggest mistake was discussing Neopaganism on a certain webforum and putting up with the loads of nonsense for as long as I did. Somehow, this webforum managed to get a cult following of hard Gards and they would slam anyone claiming to be Wiccan with questions designed to “enlighten” them to the one-true-Wiccan way. If they had merely pointed out the distinctions between the more traditional forms of Wicca and the mainstream ones, that I wouldn’t have had a gripe with. Instead, they routinely harassed and insulted anyone who disagreed with them and some would even go so far as to curse those who didn’t convert to their way of thinking. They were terrible representatives of the Wiccan religion and of Neopaganism in general. The lesson? While it’s a wise idea to listen to many perspectives, sometimes you need to call BS when you see it and walk away from communities that are spewing venom and negativity.

April 4, 2012 at 6:02 pm
(20) Kore says:

Prior to attending my first ritual, I was cautioned that I would be charged at the entrance of the circle. (you know…Halt, who goes there?) To this I cluelessly responded “How much money should I bring?” That was 13 years ago, and it still makes me giggle!

April 4, 2012 at 11:02 pm
(21) Janie says:

Oh, that one’s easy – I decided to do a past-life regression with a friend . . . Let’s just say it turnedo ut badly, as evidenced by my locking up the supplies we used in a box of salt under my tv for about six months before cleansing everything . . . and cleansing it again . . . and again . . . until I finally felt like it wouldn’t bit me when I touched it. *shakes head in silent laughter* I was scared out of my mind . . . . I still keep all my mirrors covered when I’m not using them. :)

April 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm
(22) Amythest Faune says:

I came to the craft rather late in life,and now after 12 years look back amd see some of the mistakes I too have made. probably the biggest was when I called in the element of fire with a little too much enthusiasm and setsome pictures on my altar in flames. I rapidly learned that no matter how carefull one may be the elements can be very unpredictable. Blessings of light Amythest

April 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm
(23) Josh hoverman says:

im a young pagan still not even of age and I dont know jack… A while back I got into an arguement with an older powerful pagan… I lost. Badly. I made the mistake of criticizing his path. Not only is it not my place but I dont even know my own.

February 27, 2013 at 1:55 pm
(24) S. Rune Emerson says:

Huh. Good topic! :)

Probably the biggest mistake I’ve ever made was letting my ambition go before my reason. I started a coven with a few really potent magical friends of mine, with the aim of “figgerin’ out teh secretz.”

I learned a powerful lesson about group work- when caring is not the point of your group, do not expect people to care. I learned that I work best in a group where all the people in it care about each other FIRST, and care about the spells and such SECOND. “Friends and Family First,” as we like to say.

My second biggest mistake was trusting that all teachers are good at what I need them to be good at, smart in the ways I need them to be smart, and experienced at all the practices and methods I’ve imagined in my mind. *chuckles* I studied for a year and six months with a teacher who was supposedly good at rune magic, only to find out (from her own lips) that I was better at it than she was, and she had nothing to teach me about it.

She then proceeded to try to convince me that learning about other things she knew was “more important.” It caused a serious rift in trust between us. We repaired it after a while, but there was a lot of drama involved.

That’s my story!

February 27, 2013 at 10:40 pm
(25) Loz says:

My biggest mistake was not making enough mistakes.

I just didn’t explore enough – granted I started when I was 12 and didn’t have a *real* understanding of witchcraft but I still wish I’d been more daring…

My second biggest mistake was befriending someone who firmly believed she was “Princess of the Fey” of another realm that I could visit if I just tried hard enough. She wanted to teach me about her hereditary path, (her mother openly disliked witchcraft) the craft and how to get my wings.

Soon she’d come to me every other week telling me that “an evil spirit” was out to get her and she needed my help. Weirdest 3 years of my life.

February 9, 2014 at 10:43 am
(26) Sarah says:

Believing that everything practiced today was historically correct and not bothering to my research on that. I didn’t do proper research until I was in my junior and senior year of high school when I learned that various pagan traditions, while based on older traditions in a lot of cases, aren’t being practiced like they used to be (which is to be expected as times change and as society changes).

I also made the mistake of believing you had to practice in a group which led to me not practicing for years.

February 9, 2014 at 10:45 am
(27) Judy L Arone says:

I know I am still making mistakes. I am only just learning and have been for about ten years now. Point is, we all still make mistakes and always will.

February 9, 2014 at 11:48 am
(28) Racheal says:

Hmmm. I honestly can say I dont recall making any of these five mistakes, at least not blantantly. maybe Im just strange or just to openmined and modest to assume anything about myself or others.

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