firstly, before I began my training I was required to start getting my mundane life in order. My teacher required that i pay off debts, have a job, and there was quite a bit of self-examination with regard to my relationships at the time. I also had to change a few habits to improve my health. The only thing I was allowed to do, was set up a *devotional* altar and begin attending devotional rituals. I've found that it's really important for the sanity of the magician not to neglect spirituality. It keeps us humble, grounded, and insures that in our quest for power, we don't cross too far over the line into impiety. Plus, the Powers can teach you things.
Secondly, for the first two years of my training, this was all I did:
*honor my ancestors and get a good grounding in ancestor work, i.e. getting my ancestral house in order.
*developing in my devotional work.
*grounding and centering
*Cleansings, cleansings, cleansings, cleansings, and did I mention cleansings.
that was it. It was several years down the road before I even contemplated anything more. Eventually, about the third year of training I got hoodoo and the really useful "low" magical training that is down and dirty and effective. I learned candle magic -- because it's a really good way to learn to move and channel energy. I started studying divination, ancient language (Hebrew and Latin) and I began working with certain tools. As my colleague L. reminded me when we were talking about training, I was never allowed to forget that the most important "tool" was myself.
The energy that is unleashed in magical casting doesn't come from a wand or a knife; it comes from the hand and will that wields it. that's what all the early training is about: honing the magician's will and slowly but surely accustoming the magician to running various currents of magic (i.e. energy) through his or her body, and the matrix of his or her mind and psi-channels.
The very first "ritual" magic that I learned was the LBP. That was all I was then permitted to do, for a solid year. After that, I was year by year taught to work with the various elemental powers: air, fire, water, earth. Only then was I considered remotely ready to begin evocatory work. Without that basis, had I gone and attempted evocation, I would have likely been eaten alive.
none of this gives any hint of the personal and internal work that was required over that extended period of time and yes we're talking about seven years. Seven years of basic training. Now during that time I was occasionally allowed to be present during workings. My job was to assist before and after and shut the hell up and stay out of the way during. I was given quite a bit of theory, largely by listening to my elders talk when I was otherwise engaged in working in their vicinity. All of this allowed the knowledge to seep in organically so that by the time it was my turn to step up into that circle, I was prepared and I know from whence i drew the power to facilitate the evocations that I wished to perform.
So i don't have much patience with contemporary students. The study of magic alone changes a person inside and out. I have no time in my lodge for those who are unwilling to embrace that because as with so many other things of value, the work must be done diligently by the individual; he or she can't be carried along into knowledge, or given it on a silver spoon and expect to be considered a person on the planes of power.