Choosing a Path
My first introduction to Paganism was Wicca. And why not – information and books on Wicca, or paths derived from it, dominate the Pagan literary landscape. Many of the people I originally met either practiced it or had at some point studied it.
As I learned more about Paganism, however, I quickly found other Pagan paths, each with their own focuses, pantheons of Gods and Goddesses, and interpretations of our past and future. I wanted to learn more about them to find which way was right for me. I knew I would need to both study and practice. I wanted to do it in a way, however, that properly respected the work I would need to do while recognizing it may not be right for me.
Several of the paths I’ve studied include an initiation or candidate period – a time that someone studying that path should learn, live, and practice it before fully committing themselves to it (I’ve often heard people say “a year and a day”). Scott Cunningham has this advice for those interested in a Wicca:
“However, before even considering dedicating yourself to the deities, be certain of your intentions for so doing, and that you have studied Wicca to the point where you know it is indeed the right way for you.” 
Other paths have offered similar advice. John Michael Greer, in The Druidry Handbook, states candidates, those new to this version of Druidry, should study for at least a year before receiving their first advancement:
“Those Candidates who decide to seek advancement work through a year-long study program before receiving the first degree, the degree of Druid Apprentice.” 
While we shouldn’t be afraid to try something new, it’s not something we should take lightly. We should begin by investigating what we can without diving head-first into it. We should read about it and, if possible, talk to those that practice it. Then, if we’re still interested in it, we should take those initial steps and see how it works for us.
We may find during this trial period that the path isn’t working for us. As frustrating as it may be we should be honest with ourselves and re-evaluate where we are. It may be as simple as making small changes to an otherwise comfortable practice. In many paths this is acceptable. While many traditional Pagan paths appear rigid in their ways, some more modern ones embrace personal adaptations that suit the individual practitioner.
We view and interact with the world through filters of our learned knowledge and acquired experiences. Our spiritual beliefs are part of that and are also affected. Shouldn’t our spiritual practice reflect that?
This is one of the most attractive parts of Paganism for me – that I can use my experiences and beliefs to adapt my practices accordingly while using an established, common framework as a base. It makes my practice my own.
We may also find, however, that a simple adjustment isn’t enough. We’re just on the wrong path. Again, we should be honest with ourselves, recognize it, and prepare to move on. It is never easy, but neither is working through an unfulfilling practice.
The signpost for me is finding the right Pagan path for each of us is a long process of soul searching, trial and error, and, perhaps most importantly, patience. Maybe it is supposed to be. Other writers in our community talk about Paganism as a life-long learning process. I know it is going to be for me.
How did you choose your path? Did you try other paths first? What advice do you have for other new Pagans?
 Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham
 The Druidry Handbook by John Michael Greer