Many contemporary Wiccans and other Pagans find that rather than joining a group, they prefer practicing as a solitary. The reasons for this as are as varied as those who walk the path – some may find that they work better by themselves, while others who wish to join a coven may be limited by geography or family and job obligations. Regardless, there are a number of things to keep in mind if you’re considering – or have already found your way to – a path as a solitary Wiccan or Pagan.
For some people, it’s hard to make the decision to practice as a solitary. For others, it’s a no-brainer. Both methods have their benefits, and you can always change your mind if you find that one isn’t working for you. Some of the advantages of practicing as a solitary Pagan include setting your own schedule, working at your own pace, and not having to deal with the dynamics of coven relationships. The downside, of course, is that you’re working alone, and at some point, you may find yourself wishing you had someone to tell you where to go and what to do next in order to expand your knowledge.
The first thing many people wonder is “How do I practice as a solitary?” After all, you’ve got no one to suggest rituals and practice to you, no one to ask if you don’t understand. So what do you do? One of the best things to do to develop as successful practice as a solitary Pagan is to form a routine – doing things the same way each time is really the foundation of ritual, and is a good habit to get into. Also, try networking – attending public Pagan events may be just the thing for someone who wants to meet other Pagans and Wiccans, but doesn’t want (or need) the commitment of joining an established group. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. There are plenty of people out there, both in your “real world” life and on the Internet. You’re always welcome to visit the About Pagan/Wiccan forums if you’ve got something you’d like to ask about, or if you just want to communicate with some new people.
If you’ve decided that practicing as a solitary Pagan is the right path for you, you may find you work best not with a structured system of belief and practice, but by developing things on your own. This is fine – many people create and enhance their own traditions, taking what they need from other, established traditions, and blending it together to create a brand new system of belief. Eclectic Wicca is an all-purpose term applied to NeoWiccan traditions that don't fit into any specific definitive category. Many solitary Wiccans follow an eclectic path, but there are also covens that consider themselves eclectic. A coven or individual may use the term "eclectic" for a variety of reasons.
One of the benchmarks for many people involved in the Pagan community is the initiation ritual – it’s a ceremony that marks us as belonging to something, as being part of a community, a coven, or some fellowship that we have not known before. It’s also, in many cases, a time to formally declare ourselves to the gods of our traditions. By the very definition of the word, however, one cannot self-initiate, because “initiate” is something that must include two people. Many solitaries find instead that a self-dedication ritual fills that need perfectly – it’s a way of making a commitment to one’s spiritual growth, to the deities we honor, and to learning and finding our way.
If you’re practicing as a solitary Pagan, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “I’ve read all my books.” Don’t ever stop learning – once you’ve read all your books, go find some new ones. Borrow them from the library, buy them (used if you prefer), or check them out online from reputable sources like Sacred Texts or Project Gutenberg. If there’s a particular subject you’re interested in, read about it. Keep expanding your knowledge base, and you’ll be able to continue and grow spiritually.
When it comes to celebrating rituals, the ceremonies on this site are typically designed so that they can be adapted either for a group celebration or a solitary ritual. Browse the listings for the various Sabbat rituals, find the rite you want to perform, and tweak it to meet your needs. Once you feel comfortable with ritual practice, try writing your own! Planning and Creating a Ritual