A funny question I get asked a lot is "Do all Witches wear black?" (Well, I think it's funny.) Witches are normal people, capable of wearing anything they please. Some Witches prefer dark colors (like myself) and some prefer very bright colors. It's a personal choice. The same goes for the notion of being skyclad (naked) in ritual: personal choice, what is most comfortable. I do think ritual is more fun and is put in a more important state of mind when it's dressed up for, but it's certainly not a requirement.
Magickal Nomenclature (names)
Another often-asked question is "Should I take a magickal name and how do I choose it?" First let's talk about what a magickal name is, and why people use them. Anytime you take a new name, you're taking on a new identity. So when you take on a magickal name, you're taking on a new spiritual, magickally-oriented identity. Some Witches have several names: their
mundane names, public Craft names, and secret names that only they and the deities know. People also use magickal names for privacy---many practitioners of Witchcraft have jobs in tender areas where their employers may not approve, (elementary school teachers) or live in possibly very conservative/dangerous areas.
You should consider this name very carefully and with great seriousness---it will be a name of power, of respect, of devotion. You will simply know the name when it comes to you---fascination, obsession, scholarly historical surprises--all of these tend to occur when you find the right name. There are many dedication rituals offered out there in quality texts so that you may ritually acquire
your new name.
The Witch's Demeanor
Ahh, interesting topic. I have talked about this a bit before in The Witch's Mind, so you know this has a lot to do with your internal structure first of all: how clearly you see yourself and the world around you. Step two is having a positive effective force on how the world perceives YOU. How do you really want to be viewed? Respect is earned. It will come eventually, provided that you truly follow your path by keeping your word and a clear frame of mind. Be respectable and act honorably, and you will find that respect follows you.
Coming Out of the Broom Closet (or not)?
A lot of Pagans today are faced with the question of how, or even, do they make their religion publicly known. There are young teens worried about what their parents and peers may think. Adult Pagans wonder how their bosses, coworkers, and neighbors may react. The best case scenario is that everyone is understanding, informed, and progressive, and rejoice in diversity. Worst case, you risk being fired, verbally and physically abused, or even worse unmentionables. So, this is a decision that requires a lot of thought. First of all, no one really should be walking around proclaiming what their religion--why would you? Think of this situation: "Hi Bob. Hey Suzy, how's it going? Just great Bob, here is the paperwork you asked for, and by the way, guess what! I'm a Witch!" Seem silly? It is.
Warning Signs (Things To Watch For)
What do I mean by "warning signs?" Well, there are a lot of dubious people out there, and you can find yourself quickly in a mess that you don't want to be in if you're not careful. Here are several "types" to watch for:
"Teen-turned-High-Priest/ess" Now, I have a healthy respect for young Pagans, but this type is not only dangerous to uninformed teens, but also themselves. This person will claim to know everything there is (they don't...no Witch worth her besom ever claims this), and often will make elaborate claims about their spells, rituals, coven activities, etc.. They are desperately seeking attention and power any way they can get it, and this is a spell for disaster. They may boast about leading a coven and wish you to join. Covens are things that rarely function properly with even adults, and they are certainly not systems that lend themselves to the teenage mind. You're better off on your own.
"The-Great-Riter" This type of Pagan is more than happy to toss off their clothes just for the purpose that "sex under the eyes of the God and Goddess is more sacred!" Sex is NOT a mandatory rite in any ritual, and neither is being skyclad. Be wary of any person you've just met who wants to get in your pants because of religious reasons.
"I-think-I'm-a-Witch-can-I-come-over?" Now, it's great to meet local Pagans, but please don't be in a hurry to give out your phone number and address. It takes a while to even barely understand 1/3 of a peron's mind, and it's best to listen to your instinct. If they want to meet, do it in a public place, like a cafe. Just because someone claims to be a Pagan doesn't mean they are, and it doesn't immediately imply they're a good person.
I believe it is important to retain good humor, for it will make your path as a Witch very lively.
Advice For Humor in Ritual
Everyone is a little nervous when they first perform ritual, and it's ok to laugh at yourself--there's nothing wrong with making mistakes like forgetting half the wonderful speech you memorized or spilling candle wax all over the floor while trying to put out a candle---you should feel comfortable and just grin---Goddess knows the elements are probably having a good laugh at your expense anyway, so why should they have all the fun? They will actually enjoy it greatly to see a light-hearted manner in a heartful individual.
Roadtest: The Difference Between a Wiccan and a Witch (a bad joke)
A Wiccan and a Witch each plan to go for a drive. They want green lights the whole way through their trips. The Wiccan first dresses in her ritual regalia, gets out all her tools, casts a circle around her car, invokes a deity of transportation, lights some specially-oiled green candles, smudges her car, concludes the circle, gets in her car and goes on her way. The Witch, on the other hand, just gets in her car and goes. At every intersection she screams "TURN GREEN!" or "STAY GREEN DAMMIT!"