The Difference Between Study and Practice

The definition of study according to Google is “the devotion of time and attention to acquiring knowledge on an academic subject, especially by means of books.” Of late, I’ve come to realize that my “practice” up until now hasn’t been much of practice at all.

I’ve heard so many stories of Pagans getting caught up in the study and reading of their path, and soon enough finding that the entirety of their practice is studying and reading. I was always so confused by this, as I’ve viewed so many videos where witches show off their expansive spiritual libraries and talk about the many books they have read. What was so wrong with all the study?

I have never thought of too much study/reading as a toxic situation. From learning how to read, books and sources of information, stories, muse ect. have always been an escape. You always take something from the things you read. The magic of reading the last page of a book and having the story be over was something I savored and enjoyed immensely.

Paganism was something I found through reading and searching for information. I remember clearly sitting in the public library reading a rare “Wicca for Teens!” book and being dazzled by what I was finding. It was the turning point, where I actually sat and realized what my path was. I went on an adventure, finding and buying any Pagan literature easily available. I read, took notes, and started a pretty impressive beginner library.

It wasn’t until now that I’ve really sat back and thought about what I was/have been doing since those many years ago. I can’t remember writing that many rituals, or even partaking in spontaneous ritual. I lit some candles, burn some herbs, laid out some crystals; but I had never really completed ritual that wasn’t with my old group where the rituals were already written and theoretically all I really had to do was show up and read some papers out loud.

It wasn’t that I was lazy, or didn’t enjoy the idea of ritual. I think it was definitely more of “Wow. These authors paint this incredible picture of ceremony, with lush imagery of Magic and Celebration. It sounds amazing on paper, but can I have these same experiences? What if mine doesn’t turn out like this?” Instead, (on an unconscious level) it was so much easier to live vicariously through the stores I found in books, on websites, and through the people around me. It was much more comfortable to sit behind the pages of a book and relish in the stories that Witchy So and So wrote about.

Now, I see how reading became a toxic cycle of self-doubt and jealousy. I’m left now with a ton of books under my belt and a lack of practice. My beliefs became a study rather than a practice. It’s here that I wish to move on from that. As any bad habit, breaking it takes a lot of work and introspection. I’m going through huge transitional periods of my life, but spiritually I don’t think I can progress without moving away from this.

My new mantra is “You are good enough. You can do this.” I aim to form a closer relationship with my deities and my craft. Although I will always enjoy searching the New Age section of Barnes and Noble and cuddling up with a good Pagan book and a chai latte, I vow to myself to start taking action and doing.

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