Thea's Inbox: Questions from Beginners

Wiccan essentials for beginning your path or getting back to basics.

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What Should I Read Next?

I’m new to Wicca/I have been studying Wicca for a few years. What books do you recommend?

I am asked this question a lot! These are books I have liked myself and/or recommended to students. If you're a beginner--or even if you're not--don't feel like I'm telling you to read all of them. This is a starting point for further exploration. Pick what interests you, and leave the rest. 

Per the suggestions in the comments, I will put together a top ten for absolute beginners. The books below are for everyone, not just newcomers.

There might be editions other than those listed here, and some of these might be out of print, but if you use your Google fu, you should be able to find used copies somewhere.

General Wicca and Paganism Books

Adler, Margot: Drawing Down the Moon. Boston: Beacon Press, 1979.

Buckland, Raymond. Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1993.

Campanelli, Pauline and Dan. Ancient Ways: Reclaiming Pagan Traditions. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1991.

Campanelli, Pauline and Dan. Rites of Passage: The Pagan Wheel of Life. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1994.

Campanelli, Pauline and Dan. Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1989.

Coyle, T. Thorn. Evolutionary Witchcraft. New York: Penguin, 2004.

Crowley, Vivianne. Way of Wicca. London: Thorsons, 1997.

Crowley, Vivianne. Wicca. London: Thorsons, 1996.

Crowther, Patricia. Lid Off the Cauldron. Somerset, England: Capall Bann, 1998.

Cunningham, Scott. Living Wicca: A Further Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1997.

Cunningham, Scott. Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1989.

Farrar, Janet and Stewart. Eight Sabbats for Witches. Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, Inc., 1981.

Farrar, Janet and Stewart. A Witches’ Bible: The Complete Witches’ Handbook. Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, Inc., 1981.

Fitch, Ed. A Book of Pagan Rituals. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1993. 

Fitch, Ed. A Grimoire of Shadows. St. Paul: Llewellyn, 2001.

Gardner, Gerald B. The Meaning of Witchcraft. Lake Toxaway, NC: Mercury Press, 1999.

Gardner, Gerald B. Witchcraft Today. Lake Toxaway, NC: Mercury Press, 1999.

Martello, Dr. Leo Louis. Witchcraft: The Old Religion. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press, 1974.

K., Amber and K., Azrael Arynn. How to Become a Witch: The Path of Nature, Spirit & Magick. St. Paul: Llewellyn, 2010.

Starhawk. The Spiral Dance. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1979.

Valiente, Doreen. An ABC of Witchcraft. Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, 1973.

Valiente, Doreen. Natural Magic. Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, 1975.

Valiente, Doreen. The Rebirth of Witchcraft. Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, 1989.

Valiente, Doreen. Witchcraft for Tomorrow. Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, 1978.

Valiente, Doreen, and Jones, Evan John. Witchcraft: A Tradition Renewed. Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, 1990.

Weinstein, Marion. Positive Magic Revised Edition. Pompton Plains, NJ: Career Press, 2008.

Zimmerman, Denise, and Gleason, Katherine A. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft. Indianapolis: Alpha Books, 2000.

Animal Familiars

Andrews, Ted. Animal Speak. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1993.

Smith, Penelope. Animal Talk: Interspecies Telepathic Communication. Hillsboro, OR: Beyond Words Publishing, Inc., 1999.

Covens, Clergy, and Drawing Down the Moon

D’Este, Sorita. Priestesses, Pythonesses, Sibyls: The Sacred Voices of Women Who Speak with and for the Gods. London: Avalonia, 2008.

Filan, Kenaz and Kaldera, Raven. Talking to Spirits: Personal Gnosis in Pagan Religion. Rochester, VT: Destiny, 2013.

K, Amber. Covencraft: Witchcraft for Three or More. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1998.

Trobe, Kala. How to Find Your Inner Priestess. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2005.

Folklore and Mythology

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968.

Campbell, Joseph. The Mythic Image. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974.

Campbell, Joseph. Myths to Live By. New York: Penguin, 1972.

Campbell, Joseph. The Power of Myth (DVD).Apostrophe S Productions, 1988. (Distributed most recently by Mystic Fire Video, Inc.)

Campbell, Joseph. The Power of Myth. New York: Doubleday, 1988.

Campbell, Joseph. Transformation of Myth Through Time. New York: Harper & Row, 1990.

Evans-Wentz, W. Y. The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries. New York: Citadel Press, 1990.

Frazer, James. The Golden Bough. London: Penguin Books, 1996.

Graves, Robert. The White Goddess. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1975.

Kerenyi, Karl. Gods of the Greeks. New York: Thames & Hudson, 1980.

The Táin: From the Irish Epic Táin Bó Cuailnge. Kinsella, Thomas translator. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969.

Lecouteux, Claude. Phantom Armies of the Night: The Wild Hunt and the Ghostly Processions of the Dead. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2011.

The Mabinogion.

McNeill, Marian F. The Silver Bough, Volumes 1–4. Glasgow: Beith Printing Co., Ltd., 1990.

Pegg, Bob. Rites and Riots: Folk Customs of Britain and Europe. Dorset, UK: Blandford Press, 1981.

The Goddess, the God, and Specific Aspects of Deity

Baring, Anne, and Cashford, Jules. The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image. London: Penguin, 1991.

Farrar, Janet and Stewart. The Witches’ God. Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, Inc., 1989.

Farrar, Janet and Stewart. The Witches’ Goddess. Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, Inc., 1987.

Fitch, Eric L. In Search of Herne the Hunter. Somerset, England: Capall Bann Publishing, 1994.

Jackson, Nigel Aldcroft. Call of the Horned Piper. Somerset, England: Capall Bann Publishing, 1994.

Jackson, Nigel Aldcroft. Masks of Misrule. Somerset, England: Capall Bann Publishing, 1996.

Monaghan, Patricia. The Book of Goddesses and Heroines. St. Paul: Llewellyn Pubications, 1990.

Monaghan, Patricia. The Goddess Companion: Daily Meditations on the Feminine Spirit. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1999.

Monaghan, Patricia. The Goddess Path: Myths, Invocations, and Rituals. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1999.

Neumann, Erich. The Great Mother: An Analysis of the Archetype. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983.

Herbs, Incense, and Oils

Bereyl, Paul. A Compendium of Herbal Magick. Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, 1998.

Cech, Richo. Making Plant Medicine. Williams, OR: Horizon Herbs, LLC, 2000.

Culpeper, Nicholas. Culpeper’s Complete Herbal. Avon: The Bath Press, 1998. (Note: There are many versions of Culpeper’s Herbal in print, including more extensive ones than this edition.)

Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1985.

Cunningham, Scott. Magical Herbalism. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1991.

Cunningham, Scott. The Magic of Incense, Oils, and Brews. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1988.

Griffin, Judy. Mother Nature’s Herbal. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1997.

Williams, Jude. Jude’s Herbal Home Remedies. Llewellyn Publications, 1992.

Wylundt. Wylundt’s Book of Incense. York Beach, ME: 1996.

History of Paganism, Witchcraft, and Wicca

Baroja, Julio Caro. The World of the Witches. London: Phoenix Press, 2001.

Ginzberg, Carlo. Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath. New York: Penguin, 1991.

Ginzberg, Carlo. The Night Battles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992.

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft. New York: Facts on File, 1989.

Heselton, Philip. Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration. Somerset, England: Capall Bann Publishing, 2003.

Heselton, Philip. Wiccan Roots: Gerald Gardner and the Modern Witchcraft Revival. Somerset, England: Capall Bann Publishing, 2000.

Hole, Christina. Witchcraft in England. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1947.

Hutton, Ronald. The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 1991.

Hutton, Ronald. The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. London: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Jones, Prudence and Pennick, Nigel. A History of Pagan Europe. London: Routledge, 1995.

Leland, Charles G. Aradia, or Gospel of the Witches. Newport, RI: The Witches’ Almanac, 2010.

Matthews, Caitlin. Voices from the Circle: The Heritage of Western Paganism. New York: Harper Collins, 1990.

Murray, Margaret. The God of the Witches. London: Oxford University Press, 1952.

Murray, Margaret. The Witch-Cult in Western Europe. London: Oxford University Press, 1922.

Ross, Anne. Pagan Celtic Britain. Chicago: Academy Chicago Publishers, 1967.

Magic and Correspondences

Bills, Rex. The Rulership Book. Tempe, AZ: American Federation of Astrologers, 1971.

Bonewitz, Isaac. Real Magic. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1989.

Buckland, Raymond. Practical Candleburning Rituals. St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1982.

Crowley, Aleister. Magick in Theory and Practice. New York: Magickal Childe Publishing, Inc., 1990.

Daniels, Estelle. Astrologickal Magick. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1995.

Dominguez, Ivo, and Coyle, T. Thorn. Casting Sacred Space: The Core of All Magickal Work. New York: Weiser, 2012

Duquette, Lon Milo. The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 2001.

Duquette, Lon Milo. The Magick of Aleister Crowley: A Handbook of Rituals of Thelema. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 2003.

Holland, Eileen. Holland’s Grimoire of Magickal Correspondences: A Ritual Handbook. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press, 2006.

Kraig, Donald Michael. Modern Magick. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1993.

Simms, Maria Kay. A Time for Magick. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 2001.

Williams, Brandy. The Woman Magician. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2011.

Mystery Traditions

Kerenyi, Carl. Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967.

Meyer, Marvin W. The Ancient Mysteries: A Sourcebook of Sacred Texts. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987.

Stewart, R. J. The Underworld Initiation. Chapel Hill, NC: Mercury Publishing, 1990.

Psychic and Self-Development Stuff

Coyle, T. Thorn. Crafting a Personal Practice. Seattle: Kindle/Amazon, 2012.

Coyle, T. Thorn. Kissing the Limitless: Deep Magic and the Great Work of Transforming Yourself and the World.  New York: Weiser. 2009.

Coyle, T. Thorn. Make Magic of Your Life: Passion, Purpose, and the Power of Desire. New York: Weiser. 2013.

Glass, Justine. Witchcraft: The Sixth Sense. North Hollywood, CA: Wilshire Book Company, 1965.

Hillman, James. The Dream and the Underworld. New York: Harper & Row, 1979.

Swann, Ingo. Everybody’s Guide to Natural ESP. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1991.

Shamanism

Eliade, Mircea. Shamanism. Princeton, NJ: University of Princeton Press, 1964.

Johnson, Kenneth. North Star Road. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1996.

Kalweit, Holger. Dreamtime and Inner Space: The World of the Shaman. Boston: Shambhala, 1984.

Matthews, Caitlin. Singing the Soul Back Home: Shamanism in Daily Life. Shaftsbury, Dorset, England: Element Books, 1995.

Stones and Crystals

Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem, and Metal Magic. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1993.

Melody. Love is in the Earth: A Kaleidoscope of Crystals. Wheat Ridge, CO: Earth-Love Publishing House, 1995.

 

 

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Thea Sabin is a writer/editor whose professional work currently focuses on web content management, curriculum development, and instructional design. She has taught a variety of subjects—including editing, high school English and theater, gardening, crafts, Wicca, and astrology—off and on for more than two decades. A practicing Wiccan since her teens, she first started teaching Wicca—very, very badly and long before she was ready—in college. She wrote her book Teaching Wicca and Paganism in the hope that it would help other teachers get a better start than she did. Her first book, Wicca for Beginners, was designed to help seekers new to Wicca build a foundation for Wiccan practice. Find Thea on Facebook or at www.theasabin.com.

Comments

  • 1
    1 Monday, 22 July 2013

    If I may?

    A book that has had a place on my re-read shelf is "Positive Magic," by Marion Weinstein. Even though I left the more Wiccan part of the Pagan community many years ago, this book has held its own as a source of good inspiration for carrying on with the search for my personal truths and rrlating to others in a manner that builds good will.

  • Thea Sabin
    Thea Sabin Monday, 22 July 2013

    Of course you may! :) I meant to add that and forgot. I will correct it now. It was a huge omission.

  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Monday, 22 July 2013

    Holy mother, Thea! This is a fabulous list, but one that gives even me (a practitioner of a quarter-century) pause. Any chance of a Top 13 for newbies with more description as to why *this* book and not another?

  • Thea Sabin
    Thea Sabin Monday, 22 July 2013

    Good point. I will put something together.

  • Chris Hershey-Van Horn
    Chris Hershey-Van Horn Monday, 22 July 2013

    I'm also new to the study of paganism and witchcraft. The following book has proved as fascinating as it is informative:

    - The Inner Temple of Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak

  • Thea Sabin
    Thea Sabin Monday, 22 July 2013

    Yes, Christopher's stuff is great!

  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Monday, 22 July 2013

    I echo Piparskeggr's recommendation: "Positive Magic" was the first how-to book on Magick I ever read, and one of the most down-to-Earth and helpful. A real plus is the fact that it's so White Light that even the rawest newcomer would be hard-pressed to get in over his or her head. An underrated classic.

  • Thea Sabin
    Thea Sabin Monday, 22 July 2013

    Totally agree.

  • 1
    1 Monday, 22 July 2013

    If I might make further suggestions?

    Much of modern paganry, in my experience, comes to us from Celtic and British sources.

    The Mabinogion, as mentioned above, is a wonderful source of folklore from the more ancient British (Pritani and Cymric) traditions.

    The "Leabhar na h-Uidhri" (Book of the Dun Cow) is a source to find for some elder Irish folk lore.

    The Matter of Britain (Arthurian mythos) and the Robin Hood tales can be mined for glimpses of elder ways.

    Even give a hard look at the customs you see in your own family, little rituals, celebrations, festive foods...there is much hidden in plain view, which can be gleaned for wisdom.

  • Thea Sabin
    Thea Sabin Monday, 22 July 2013

    Excellent choices!

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