|Old woodcut of Witches riding to the sabbat.|
Here is a disclaimer (and a detour) before I begin that list- I am in an initiatory mystery religious Witchcraft tradition. In my opinion, Witchcraft has never been, nor will it ever be, a "religion of the book" the way that Christianity, Islam or Judaism are. So if you are looking for a book that will "teach you Witchcraft" you are misled, most likely by authors trying to sell you a book fitting that bill.
Nor will Witchcraft ever be a religion of the masses- we are meant to be a small group of highly trained people, doing very specific work in the world. Just FYI: I have a very specific definition of what a Witch is, and it may not match yours. (That's okay by me- hope it is by you.)
|unsure who to credit here, help me out!|
Witches can talk to and relay messages from the gods. They can act as a human vehicle to bring them here for others. They can divine people's possible futures and help weave destiny. They can do spellwork to manifest changes in the worlds. They are healers, artists, and activists. Witches are NOT dabblers- they are priests.
Yes, I know people who call themselves Witches but do not fit this definition. If they asked me to give a definition of what I thought they were, I would probably say "pagan" was more accurate*. Pagan is a commonly used term for a huge umbrella of people, including people who work magic- and is general enough to cover all kinds of non-Abrahamic thought and religion- be it polytheistic, pantheistic, Wiccan, heathen, or what have you. Pagans can be what Christians call "lay people" or "laity"- that is, not just clergy.
|The Crystal Ball |
by John Williams Waterhouse
In my tradition, we must learn directly from an initiated teacher- and not all initiates of any tradition are qualified to teach, in my humble (but often loud) opinion. Some have only been initiated for a short while, yet think they should teach. Some were initiated by folks with lacking ethics and I would doubt the transmissions passed to them. Some lack ethics themselves- they are liars, thieves, and worse- oathbreakers. Not all self-professed Witches, even ones with lots of friends, are worthy- so beware as you seek a teacher. And if you are paying for your classes towards initiation, well, caveat emptor is all I have to say.
|Hekate, by Johfra Bosschart|
OK- rant over. If you are looking for a teacher, I am writing a blog post about what to look for and questions to ask very soon. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, let's get back to answering that original question.
Given my caveat, there are books out there that I have read, own, and think are good resources for someone who is learning the Craft**. I am a book lover myself. While books cannot teach you what the Craft is- they can help you determine what it is NOT and whether it may be for you. They are not the be-all and end-all (obviously), but they shed insight into the path and help to illuminate who is ready to start learning from a teacher.
Warning: there are a lot of crappy books out there that claim to be about Witchcraft. If you have a questions about a specific book or author not mentioned below, email me directly. I would be happy to give you my opinion if I have read it (and I have read a lot, believe me!)
A list of a few recommended titles to get you started:
Orion Foxwood: The Faery Teachings, The Tree of Enchantment
R.J. Stewart: Earthlight, Underworld Initiation, The Living World of Faery, Advanced Magical Arts
Victor Anderson: Thorns of the BloodRose, Lilith's Garden (poetry), Etheric Anatomy
Cora Anderson: Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition
Paul Huson: Mastering Witchcraft
Charles Leland: Aradia
Peter Grey: The Red Goddess
T. Thorn Coyle: Evolutionary Witchcraft
Emma Wilby: Cunning-Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic; The Visions of Isobel Gowdie: Magic, Shamanism and Witchcraft in Seventeenth-century Scotland
Claude Lecouteux: The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind; Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages
Carlo Ginsburg/Anne Tedeschi: The Night Battles: Witchcraft & Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth & Seventeenth Centuries
Robin Artisson: The Horn of Evenwood, The Flaming Circle, The Resurrection of the Meadow
Carlo Ginzburg: Night Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath
Martin W. Ball: Mushroom Wisdom: How Shamans Cultivate Spiritual Consciousness
Eric De Vries: Hedge-Rider: Witches and the Underworld
Nigel Aldcroft Jackson: The Call of the Horned Piper
Patrick Dunn: Magic, Power, Language, Symbol: A Magician's Exploration of Linguistics
Mark Stavish: Between the Gates: Lucid Dreaming, Astral Projection, and the Body of Light in Western Esotericism
W.Y. Evans-Wentz: Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries (gives some historical context to the Craft)
Randy Conner: Blossom of Bone
Arthur Evans: Witchcraft and the Gay Counter Culture
Nathaniel Harris: Witcha
Michael Howard and Nigel Jackson: The Pillars of Tubal Cain
A.D. Hope: Midsummer Eve’s Dream (out of print)
Starhawk: The Spiral Dance
David Abram: The Spell of the Sensuous
John and Caitlin Matthews: any title
Jan Fries: any title
Idries Shah: who is a writer on Sufism, but there is a deep connection to the Craft
The Foxfire Books (all of them are of value)
I would also encourage people to seek out books on:
- Lilith and Hekate, as they are considered the patrons of Witches in particular,
- Herbalism (medicinal and magical),
- Energy bodies, energy healing, and using energy bodies,
- Quantum physics & the universe (I am not kidding),
- Animal and plant spirit work and communication
- Other cultures' shamanic practices: take a world tour of shamanism!
*But I believe in the right of people to self-identify, so I do not do this unsolicited with people directly or argue with folks about their terminology when speaking of themselves. I refuse to define others- I can only make myself clear when I am speaking, which is what I am doing here. I do not do this to offend anyone, just to give you an idea of where I am coming from so my answer makes sense.
** This list is a combination of recommended reading from me and Oberyn Kunning, who is an initiate of the same tradition that I follow. He is what we affectionately call "a lore master" so he was the perfect person to ask for advice on books!