I get a lot of people asking me if they have the right to call themselves witch and at what point of their study they can claim the title. It’s pretty straightforward, it isn’t a title, the word “witch” describes more what you do than what you are. So if you do the things associated with witchcraft I see no problem with you identifying as a witch. Very simply put, if you grow herbs with the intention of making your own cures, if you work with magic, energy or intent, if you use divinatory tools to see into the future or if you work with spirits, elements or deities, chances are you’re ticking most or some of the right boxes. If you just like reading about all this stuff and wearing floaty black skirts then you are probably not a witch…yet…there’s nothing to say you won’t get more hands on further down the line.
I’d say the crossing point is when you stop studying and start casting. You can be the most learned person in the world as far as the academic study of witchcraft is concerned but if you’ve never rolled your sleeves up and cast a spell, you’re not actually doing what a witch does and you’re not so much a witch as you are someone who’s read a lot of books. (To give you an example, reading every aerial manual I can get my hands on wouldn’t make me a pilot. Would you want to fly with me if I had no practical experience? Would you want the airline to hire me as a pilot??)
There are people with significantly more academic knowledge than myself on the subject of the craft but I wouldn’t swap their knowledge for my ability to…ahem…work the world to my own ends. In witchcraft knowledge isn’t power, power is power and as soon as you understand that and start making that power work for you, you’re on the right road to identifying as a witch.
In terms of how you get started, well you make the transition. You put the books away and you have a go. You’ll probably feel a bit silly to start with and a lot of what you do might not work as well as you hoped. But like anything, you get better the more you do it. Nobody ever painted a masterpiece without churning out some bloody awful rough sketches first and it’s the same with being a witch. Don’t fool yourself that you can learn everything from books. Some of the best witches I know don’t even possess any books, they listen to their intuition and they do what works for them. Find your own voice and your own way forward and get as much practical experience as you can. A simple summary - “Stop reading, start doing!”
Image http://www.deviantart.com/art/cauldron-119151602 (Ecathe)