I did not include every book I’ve read or studied or owned. There have just been too many. I know that might sound arrogant, but it’s not. Do you honestly remember every single book you’ve ever read in your life? If someone mentioned a book you’ve forgotten that you read, would you be able to give an opinion of it? Same here.
If you want my opinion on a specific book, just ask. I’ll let you know if I’ve read it and what I think of it. I’ve included my thoughts, impressions, or reviews of the individual books for most of this list. But before that, I’d like to make a few comments about some of the more well-known authors and how I feel with regard to their work and validity that I didn’t necessarily include next to the individual book title.
Raymond Buckland has written extensively on the subject of spirit communication and medium work. If that area interests you, read his books. There are too many to list and honestly, I haven’t read them all, so I can’t give accurate reports from my own point of view, other than to say he’s very informed and presents the information in a solid format.
I really enjoy Christopher Penczak’s work and writings. He’s honest, experienced, thorough, and intelligent. As a person, he’s a bit arrogant, but no one is perfect. I’ve read several of his books, though two I’ve only read part of so far, but based on recommendations of my friends (whose opinions I trust implicitly), he’s definitely a good author to begin your studies with or to look towards for advanced practices. He also has two books out geared specifically towards Male Witches and Gay Witches: Sons of the Goddess and Gay Witchcraft: Empowering the Tribe, respectively. I definitely recommend his work.
Even if you think Scott Cunningham is a bit “Fluffy-Bunny”, his reference material is thorough and the books for herbs and stones contain illustrations or pictures – very valuable for someone who isn’t sure what to look for.
Many Pagans say that Silver RavenWolf’s books and style are flawed and that she’s ‘sold out’ for more money. The climate for popular Wiccan books was different around twenty-five years ago (when her work was first published and I first started reading it). Our community has changed since then, and Silver’s work has changed with it as well in terms of her own experience and what she writes about.
The books she wrote many years ago were very good, the books she wrote five years ago are better, the most recent ones are very good.
I stand by my judgement that she presents clear working outlines for writing spells and rituals and for magical record keeping. Because I believe that spells and rituals are best done when written by the witch and not just performed blindly by finding something in a book, I enjoy the way she EXPLAINS how spells are crafted and why certain things are used. She focuses on understanding what you’re doing and why, instead of just doing it. Her work was the first book I’ve read where an author actually defined what it meant to say: “I summon, stir, and call ye forth.” Her correspondence info is good for beginners and gives them something to build off of. I wish that more people would read and study instead of looking for a quick fix for all their problems. Magic only works on what you put into it.
I like Silver’s stuff. I’ve met her and worked in ritual with her. I also spent some time training within the Black Forest Clan (Silver’s Tradition) and I will swear to you on any holy book or in the name of whatever deity you choose, the Black Forest Clan makes its members WORK. There is no sitting on the sidelines or faking your way through their training program like others I’ve seen. No matter what the ‘Hater Bandwagon’ may say, she’s the real deal when it all comes down to getting the job done. She isn’t “fluffy bunny”. If you believe she is, I encourage you to re-read her work.
I did read Teen Witch when it first came out and though I think she had the right idea in coming up with a book written specifically for teenagers –timed for release right after the movie ‘The Craft’, some of the viewpoint was not what I would have said, however she did try to counter-balance the maddening influx of newbie teen witches by presenting something to them that would explain what Witchcraft really is and explained that it is a religious belief. Like anything else written, it shouldn’t be the only thing read and studied. Young witches shouldn’t be excused from the same course of study as older ones. But at least if kids read that, they won’t keep asking for ‘eye color change’ spells.
If you like or don’t like or if you would recommend or not recommend an author to someone who is searching, that is fine. We all have our own opinions. There are some authors I would not recommend because I find no real value in what they present.
Authors I do NOT recommend: (but of course, you’re free to disagree with me)
D.J. Conway – too much of her stuff is just straight-up made-up and wrong. There are things in her books that if she had bothered to read so much as a dictionary, she would have known she was using the wrong word to describe something. That kind of careless stuff just makes it more difficult when you get to authors who actually know what they’re talking about.
Gavin and Yvonne Frost – I just don’t agree with anything from them. I respect that they’ve tried to come forth and bring ‘Wicca to the masses’ or whatever, but if you’re going to do that, at least do it correctly.
A.J. Drew – I knew A.J. personally for several years before he became an author when he ran an occult store in Columbus, Ohio. A.J. did nothing but fight, bicker, and try to belittle others in the community by starting ‘flame wars’ with those who knew better. His books are a watered down version of every other “Wicca 101″ sort of book out there and his book “Wicca for Men” … isn’t.
Fiona Horne – For her it seems like more of an image than a religious belief.
Mark Ventimiglia – Liar, bigot, troublemaker. He claimed to have been a member of Buckland’s tradition Seax-Wica, but this was false, he was never ordained as a high priest of that tradition and since he began writing, he’s behaved very badly towards minority groups in the Pagan community.
Douglas Monroe – inaccurate, uninformed, ego-driven and misogynistic.
Now on to the list of what I DO recommend… (and yes, I’ve personally read about 90% of what I recommend on here)
General Topics and Authors:
Druidry – Phillip Carr-Gomm, John and Caitlin Matthews, Isaac Bonewits, John Michael Greer
Asatru – Edred Thorson, Diana Paxson, and definitely a good copy of the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda.
Ceremonial Magick/High Magick/Alchemy – Donald Michael Kraig, Donald Tyson
Hoodoo – Orion Foxwood, Stephanie Rose Bird, Ray Marlbrough, and Cat Yronwode
History and Western Mystery Traditions – Sorita D’Este, David Rankine, Ronald Hutton
A good booklist to begin with is:
The Druids – Peter Beresford Ellis
The Mabinogi/Mabinogion – Various Welsh Myths
The Power of Myth – Joseph Campbell – Campbell’s info is deep and shows a meaningful connection to archetypes in myth and our mental and emotional understanding as human beings. His work is amazing. ANY of Campbell’s books are great to study
The Hero’s Journey – Joseph Campbell – this is in book and video form. Watch the video
The Hero With A Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell
Women Who Run With the Wolves – Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, Ph.D. – She takes classic stories and fairy tales and presents them in a way of understanding the archetype of the wild woman. Great for reclaiming that lost feminine energy. Very poetic. She’s a masterful storyteller
Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets – Barbara Walker – I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put this in the ‘reference material’ section or not. It’s got a lot of interesting historical info. It isn’t all totally accurate though, use cross-references.
Mythology – Edith Hamilton (or Bullfinch — has a good version too of these classic Greek myths)
Witches – Erica Jong and Joseph A. Smith- illustrator. Just beautifully written. Evocative and artful poetry. Gorgeous and touching artwork. Erica Jong touches on the witch as an archetype, historical wise-woman, and priestess of the ancient ways. She explains our fascination as a culture with this mythic figure.
A Brief History of Time – Stephen Hawking – Brilliant man. Brilliant work. He offers the scientific explanation and understanding on how the universe began and goes from there.
The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God – Carl Sagan – If you don’t know who Carl Sagan is or aren’t familiar with his work, you are truly missing out on one of the most brilliant scientific and philosophical geniuses of our age.
Cosmos DVD collection – Carl Sagan – He’s a scientist, not a religionist and was what I consider a spiritually- and philosophically-minded atheist.
For Norse/Germanic Reading:
Myth and Religion of the North by Gabriel Turville Petre — Being half a century old, this volume is somewhat dated but is still the most comprehensive anthology on Old Norse Religion published so far. Some theories and opinions expressed in this book might not be relevant today but on the whole, the book is very readable and far-reaching.
Dictionary of Northern Mythology by Rudolph Simek: Basically a very thorough list of mythological figures, lands, gods, creatures and other with some neat philological explanations and some interesting pre-Viking-Age, Germanic stuff.
Norse Mythology by John Lindow: A good introduction to the myths and the theories surrounding them, comes with a limited but interesting dictionary section. Written by a top notch scholar.
Nordic Religions in the Viking Age by Thomas Dubois: a good look at cross-cultural dynamics in the Pagan Religions of the Viking Age. Nice introduction to the Sámi question as well. Very readable.
A Companion to Old Norse-Icelandic Literature and Culture, Edited byRory Mc Turk: PURE GOLD. This volume focuses on the Old Norse literature and helps making sense of the sources and their context. Numerous rather short articles, including several focusing solely on the Old Religion written by top notch scholars. MORE THAN RECOMMENDED !
Shamanism in Norse Myth and Magic by Clive Tolley: A rather extremely advanced academic look at various aspects of Magic in the Old Norse sources. Incredibly hard to read for the average joe but contains some mind-blowing cross-cultural and comparative Religions ideas. Note that this voluminous book focuses on written sources.
For Wiccan/Witchcraft Reading:
A Witch Alone – Marian Green
An ‘A,B,C’ of Witchcraft – Doreen Valiente – Doreen Valiente is one of the most respected contributors to Witchcraft’s growth and practice as a religion. Her works are long sought after as one of the founding descriptions of Witchcraft’s practices
Natural Magic – Doreen Valiente
Witchcraft for Tomorrow – Doreen Valiente
High Magick’s Aide – Gerald Gardner
Drawing Down the Moon – Margot Adler
Spiral Dance – Starhawk
What Witches Do – Janet and Stewart Farrar
The Witches Bible – Janet and Stewart Farrar
Earth Power: Techniques of Natural Magic – Scott Cunningham
Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries – Z. Budapest
When, Why… If? – Robin Wood – Excellent, if sometimes difficult, book on Wiccan ethics. Much deeper than just the basic interpretation of the Rede and Threefold Law.
The Power of the Witch – Laurie Cabot – I love the point of view that Laurie takes with presenting Witchcraft as a science. Her explanation of the Alpha State and how energy is raised and focused is excellent. I’ve studied and used her techniques with my students and in classes and workshops I’ve led.
The Witch Cult in Western Europe and The God of the Witches – Margaret Murray – At the time it was published, Murray’s work was seen as the definitive history of ancient Europe and the roots of Wicca/Paganism as it is practiced. I don’t agree with all of her information and many scholars have debunked her but it should still be read because of its contributions to getting the ancient history and religion of Europe examined and built upon. Read these because ‘all Witches should’, not necessarily for their historical accuracy.
The Golden Bough – James Frazer – I suggest finding an abridged copy. The original is quite long. It is written in a way that was common for books to be written at the turn of the 20th century. If you can get past the dry way most of it is presented, and the fact that he has a haughty air about cultures that are ‘savage’, it’s a great read. It is over 100 years old. Still, it is the book credited with inspiring the modern study of anthropology, myth, and religion.
The White Goddess — Robert Graves — As one of the works that inspired Gardner, I feel it’s important to read this. I found it very poetic and interesting if not entirely historically accurate. But, to be fair, when I read this I wasn’t looking for history. I don’t think you should either.
When God Was a Woman – Merlin Stone – A lot of feminine-oriented info. Lots of biblical/historical reference and taking the viewpoint of the other side. Not all historically accurate, but a good jumping off point for further study.
The Chalice and the Blade – Riane Eisler
Aradia: Gospel of Witches – Charles Leland
Witchcraft Today – Gerald B. Gardner – There is a newer publication of this book out with some additional information and articles by several modern witches, including Judy Harrow and Wren Walker (Of The Witches Voice website). Gardner is the man who ‘got it all going’. You’d do well to read this and see where most of the traditions, practices, and beliefs originated.
Malleus Malificarum – W. Kramer and J. Sprenger – This was the handbook for hunting, interrogating, torturing, and executing witches in Europe in the Middle Ages. It is filled with hatred, misogyny, superstition, and fear. It was hard for me to stomach, but it is necessary to understand what fear and hatred will drive people to do.
The Dark Side of Christian History – Helen Ellerbe The author takes a non-biased approach to the history of the Orthodox Church, beginning with its founding and up through the Age of Reason. I list it here because of its link to the Burning Times and the continued fear and repression of Pagan ideals and understanding by the Church. I recommend this book to anyone, Pagan and Christian alike for its informative, articulate, and humanistic approach.
Myth and Mankind Series – Time-Life Books – They take the mythology of an area or culture and describe it parallel to the history. There are beautiful pictures, informative captions, and a strong connection drawn and explained between a society’s culture and belief system. These are favorites of my collection. I’m trying to get the last four that I didn’t get when the books were first in print.
Witchcraze – Anne Llewellyn Barstow – This book shows the history and legacy of violence against women, which is what a huge part of the Witch Hunts actually were. While I don’t necessarily believe the theory of the ‘women’s holocaust’ reading this will help you to understand what is possible when mankind loses focus on its humanity.
The Witches Goddess/The Witches God – Janet and Stewart Farrar – One of the best compendiums of deities available as well as history and suggestions for working with them in ritual.
Triumph of the Moon – Ronald Hutton – For learning the roots and history of Wicca, both ancient and how it’s been brought into the modern age.
Wiccan/Witch/Paganism 101 Studies:
To Ride a Silver Broomstick – Silver RavenWolf – Excellent guidelines for crafting and creating spells, keeping records, and using correspondences.
To Stir a Magick Cauldron and To Light a Sacred Flame – Silver RavenWolf I like the outlines and the questions/requirements listed. Sacred Flame also has some good advanced practices.
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner – Scott Cunningham – Good for beginners
Living Wicca – Scott Cunningham – great invocations/poetry and good info for prayers. It’s the sequel to Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
Green Witchcraft – Ann Moura – This also has a volume 2 that I’ve read and think is excellent and a volume 3 that works as a manual
Wheel of the Year – Dan and Pauline Campanelli – Excellent info on the Pagan holidays as well as ways to celebrate. The Campanelli’s have a very family-friendly approach to their work
Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft – Raymond Buckland – Set up as lessons. Good for a solitary to use as a guideline as well as a lot of historical info for Gardnerian and Seax-Wica traditions.
The Tree/Buckland’s Book of Saxon Witchcraft – Raymond Buckland – Good beginning info in the Seax Wica tradition. Includes ritual outlines for all major holidays, esbats, and rites of passage including handfasting, handparting, birth, and funeral rites.
Elements of Ritual – Deborah Lipp – Very solid info that goes into detail explaining the whats and whys of ritual.
True Magick – Amber K – Good beginning info
Inside a Witch’s Coven – Edain McCoy – Solid info for those seeking to join a group on what to look for and how to approach and be approached by potential coven-mates
The Truth About Witchcraft Today – Scott Cunningham – It’s a bit fluffy, but if you are uncertain how to explain your beliefs to others, this is a good book to read and maybe just give them. It’s small and very inexpensive. It covers the basics of belief and presents the information in a way that Wiccan and Non-Wiccan alike can easily understand.
The Faery Teachings and The Tree of Enchantment – Orion Foxwood
Wicca: Magical Beginnings – Sorita D’Este and David Rankine – Amazing detail to the history of Wicca and where things held sacred in it come from. You will learn the origins of the elements, circle casting, etc. Learn why these things are used and what they are rooted in. (Any book or books by either or both of these authors is going to be excellent — I’ve read a lot of their work and recommend it highly)
These books aren’t the ‘white light/fluffy’ ones. They are more historical, and look at Witchcraft in a more anthropological sense as the old or ancient practices of Pagan Europe. Being more historical, I think it’s important to read them to gain a fuller understanding of where contemporary “Pop Wicca” gets most of its skim info from. People complain all the time that the mass market media of popular pagan works is rife with nonsense and made-up histories, yet those same people never recommend the ‘meatier’ books to get past those inaccuracies. This portion of my list is my attempt to rectify that.
Mastering Witchcraft – Paul Huson
The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind – Claude Lecouteaux
The Night Battles: Witchcraft & Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries – Carlo Ginsberg and Anne Tedeschi
Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath – Carlo Ginsberg
There is not much ‘basic’ info here. These are written with the understanding that you have experience in practical applications, meditation, and are proficient in methods. If you are not knowledgeable with the basics, don’t bother with the exercises in these books. Read them for what they are, but study more first before trying most of them.
Magic, Power, Language, Symbol: A Magician’s Exploration of Linguistics -Patrick Dunn
The Pagan Book of Living and Dying – Starhawk – Rituals and meditations for working with the dying and Pagan funeral rites. This is NOT a beginner’s book. There are very deep, profound, things to face in this book. Rituals for working with the afterlife or Underworld deities. This book is also good for giving a purpose and understanding of death.
A Witch’s Notebook: Lessons in Witchcraft – Silver RavenWolf – This is in Silver’s particular style, where she’s talking directly to the reader. You either like her style or you hate it, but the exercises and meditations are in-depth and effective.
Ascension Magick – Christopher Penczak – I’m reading this one now based on a recommendation from a good friend. I’ll let you know my own opinion of it when I’m finished.
Pagans and Christians: The Personal Spiritual Experience – Gus diZerega, Ph.D. – This book does more than simply provide a way to bridge the misunderstandings between these faiths, he also looks at Paganism in depth on many levels. All Wiccans should read this book to gain a better understanding of how to explain what it is we believe – both to others and ourselves.
Spiritual Mentoring: A Pagan Guide – Judy Harrow – Clergy work involves being in a position to serve others. This book helps you to learn how to do that.
Devoted to You: Honoring Deity in Wiccan Practice – Judy Harrow – Clergy work also involves being a priest or priestess for deity and facilitating that relationship for others through ritual.
The Pagan Clergy’s Guide for Counseling, Crisis Interventions, and Otherworld Transitions – Kevin Gardner – The title pretty much says it all. Very good book.
Conversations with God – Neale Donald Walsch – It’s God as you’ve never seen or heard Him/Her before. Profound, deep, spiritual. It answers many of life’s questions that are asked of God with direct, honest answers. I’ve personally used the ‘conversations’ on self-awareness and death to comfort others as they needed. I listed this here, but honestly, I think it’s appropriate for all levels of study. I just think that until you have a strong, solid basis for personally understanding spirituality, some of the concepts might be hard to get. But if you’re open and ready, go for it!
Outer Temple of Witchcraft and Inner Temple of Witchcraft – Christopher Penczak – The first and second books in his elemental series. Excellent work.
Temple of Shamanic Witchcraft: Shadows, Spirits, and the Healing Journey – Christopher Penczak – His books are wonderful. Definitely not the typical basic 101 rhetoric over and over again. This one deals with Shamanic practices and a lot of inner working. Apparently this is part of an elemental series and is the ‘water’ book.
Coven Craft – Amber K – This is a really good book on how to do the work involved in creating and running a coven. It’s filled with ideas for bylaws, rituals, and all the necessary work that goes along with bearing the title of “High Priest/High Priestess”. If you’re looking for a group to join, or working on forming one, read this. It’s also good to breathe some life back into your group if you feel it is going stale.
The Witches Shield – Christopher Penczak – If you’ve ever wanted to know how to do protection magic, or how to answer someone who thinks they’ve had a ‘curse’ placed on them, this is the book to read. It also comes with a CD of guided protection meditations led by the author. One of the meditations is the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, with and without instructions.
Creating Circles and Ceremonies – Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart – There’s just an unbelievable amount of information packed into a small, useful book. Highly recommended.
MindLight – Silver RavenWolf – This book brings together the study and understanding of magic with the science of quantum physics. If you want to know how magick works so that you can make it work better, read this.
The Twelve Wild Swans – Starhawk and Hilary Valentine – I really like Starhawk’s books and style. This book looks at the old story of the Twelve Swans and their sister, Rose, and then takes the story apart, looking at the meanings implied, spoken of, and taken in the story and in Rose’s journey. The tale is then broken down into ritual ideas that can be performed alone or with a group. It is excellent.
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magickal Herbs – Scott Cunningham
Cunningham’s Book of Oils, Incense, and Brews – Scott Cunningham
Magickal Aromatherapy – Scott Cunningham
Crystal, Gem, and Metal Magick – Scott Cunningham
The Book of Stones – Robert Simmons and Naisha Ahsian
Practical Candleburning Rituals – Ray Buckland
Advanced Candle Magic – Ray Buckland – read the “practical” book first.
Practical Color Magic – Ray Buckland
Ultimate Book of Shadows – Silver RavenWolf – This is what I consider to be a ‘working reference’ book because there is a lot of reference material in it, but also a lot of working information. I suggest that this not be one of the first books you pick up as a beginner because it doesn’t detail the ‘how-tos’ of ritual. Have some experience first.
The Herbal Handbook – David Hoffman – good info on the practice of medicinal herbalism and holistic healing
Jude’s Herbal Home Remedies – Jude C. Todd – Excellent info
Herbal Recipies for Vibrant Health – Rosemary Gladstar – Borrowed from a friend and reading this now. So far, it’s wonderful. I’ve taken many pages of notes from this book.
The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need – Joanna Martine Woolfolk – Maybe the only one you’ll ever need, but not the only one you should get. It does cover just about everything involved with astrology, even instructions on how to make a simple chart. It also has charts and tables for calculating the individual signs of the planets and mythological info. If you can only get one book on how to study astrology, this is a good one.
The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley – Retelling of the Arthurian legends from Morgaine’s point of view. It is the first book written and the last of the ‘Avalon trilogy’ done about the Pagan beliefs of the ancient British Isles by Bradley
The Forest House – Marion Zimmer Bradley – Tells the story of Eilan, a priestess and the effects of the Roman Empire on Celtic Britain. First book of the “Avalon trilogy”
Lady of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley – Ties together the timeline of Eilan and Morgaine through the stories of three intermediary priestesses. Second book of the “Avalon Trilogy”
The Firebrand – Marion Zimmer Bradley – Tells the story of the fall of Troy to the Greeks from Kassandra’s point of view — Paris’ twin sister, the prophetess cursed with never being believed.
The Druids – Morgan Llewellyn
The Horse Goddess – Morgan Llewellyn
Lion of Ireland – Morgan Llewellyn
The Committee – Ray Buckland
Cardinal’s Sin – Ray Buckland
The Hammer and the Cross – Harry Harrison – First in a series of books about a Viking named Shef. The book is set in the 9th century England where Viking raids are common and presents an alternate history to the one we know.
The Moon Under Her Feet – Clysta Kinstler – The story of Mary Magdalen and Jesus Christ as understood through the Pagan tradition of the Middle East. Mary Magdalen was a priestess of the Goddess. Amazon.com has a good summary of it: Narrative weaving the biblical account of Mary and Jesus, the Egyptian myth of Isis and Osiris, and the Sumerian story of Inanna and Dumuzi to create an exotic tale of a strong, sensual woman.
The Rowan Gant Mysteries – M.R. Sellars – They’re very good and very entertaining. They are a bit over-the-top with regard to magick and Witchcraft, but being fiction, that’s alright.
The original Dune books (Dune, Dune Messiah, Children of Dune) – Frank Herbert – While not necessarily ‘pagan’, I still think most Pagan people will enjoy them. The concept of the Bene Gesserit especially spoke to me.
Contact – Carl Sagan – a poignant look at seeing ourselves as only a small part of a very big universe.