The following blog is designed for those younger magickians who are just setting out on their first spiritual journey. It covers some often overlooked social aspects of the occult lifestyle, as well as identifying a few of the mental stumbling blocks that can get in the way too. I have often wondered if the bloody and bruised path that got me here would have been far easier had I chanced upon a list such as this when I was first practising a decade or so ago. In truth I know that I would have just cockily disregarded such advice anyway, and you are all free to do the same if you wish.
There is no need to wear a label
For some reason those who are involved with the occult seem to be expected to equate their entire spiritual being with the school of sorcery that they practice. Said tribalism can be highly detrimental, and those who hope to find a prebuilt community awaiting them by virtue of shared interests tend to become disillusioned relatively quickly upon realising that it does not always exist. This was by far the biggest issue that I experienced when seeking to define my own existence, and as such I strongly advocate moving away from living through labels and just being generally magickal instead.
There is no need to practice in secret
While it can be advantageous to keep your weird under a blanket, especially in overtly religious areas, there is also a solid case for just being open about what you do too. I have made vibrant, lasting friendships by simply mentioning my Neopagan roots and been pleasantly surprised at just how many others are walking a similar path, albeit in the shadows. Remember, modern paranormal media has created an environment where personal ghost stories are an acceptable topic for workplace conversation now, so exploit it to push the envelope towards more interesting areas when you can.
There is no need to search for a mentor
As with all things serendipitous, your teacher will appear when he or she is supposed to. Or not, as the case may be, and that is fine too. For those who are adept at conducting their own research there are a wealth of resources available to assist you in becoming a proactive member of the magickal community, as well as a path to personalised empowerment. It is also worth being wary of supposed gurus that seek large down payments to receive their wisdom. While these people need to eat like everyone else, they also rarely offer anything that you cannot learn yourself for free.
There is no need to find a group
For some, the occult is a joint enterprise. Covens, ceremonial groups, all of these are available for those who wish to take advantage of them. But magickal socialisation is no longer exclusively limited to the initiatory structure and mock masonic orders. The internet has opened up alternative channels of conversation on these topics, freeing the aspiring magus to solicit for advice without signing up for a belief system or dogma as well. Solo occultism is viewed in some circles as a watered down offshoot, but the self reliance and resourcefulness that it teaches is invaluable.
There is no need to stick with one system
As I have previously alluded to, there is no single path to enlightenment and no need to accept the dogma of others either. Borrowing heavily from the chaos current, postmodern occultism offers the practitioner the leeway to find the right tool for any particular job, even if it belongs within the sphere of another discipline entirely. You can even trick yourself into viewing your journey in to the weird as something akin to a role playing game, wherein the character switches classes to redistribute skill points on the fly as the need arises and gains much needed fluidity by doing so.
There is no need to choose the left or right hand path
There has been much written on the subject of ethics within the occult world. To hex or not to hex, that is the question it seems, and entire bookcases could be filled to overflowing with different takes on the supposedly definitive answer. Yet there is no reason why you need to make a blanket decision about your ultimate polarity. If magick is only a tool, then it follows that it has no moral compass of its own. There is a great deal of personal responsibility in viewing the occult is such a way, and realising that the ultimate decision to hurt or heal is always up to you.