My 101 Reading List

Two years into my serious studies of Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism I realized something most avid reader of Pagan books comment on. A lot of material is repeated and that there are a growing mountain of Wicca 101 books. At that time I was quite certain that I had mastered the basics but there was still so much I wanted to read. So, I wrote myself a reading list. A stead fast curriculum to finish what some call their Dedicant Year(s). This list was writen base on books I already owned and had not read yet. I have finally finished this list!

This not a list for seekers, ones who just found the craft. Where a lot of the books on this list are advertised as such there are some I would not suggest as a first witch book and some that I would not suggest to be read at all. I am a slow reader, fearless in perusing the end of any book, and enjoy reading text bookish writing so these books might not be everyone’s cup of tea. As I said before these were not my baby witch books and most certainly not all the books I have read on Wiccan and Paganism, or the only things I have read in the past year. The following list being completed marks for me a personal acceptance to move toward higher concepts and serious education. My homework is done. Now I will show my work!

  • Wicca Revealed- Wicca Revealed is the Wicca/ Witchcraft 101 course given by MagickaSchool.com.  MagickaSchool.com is a great resource not only for Wicca 101 and 202 lessons, but also Tarot, Kabbalah, Herbalism, and Spell Crafting. Wicca Revealed its self is a fantastic course for the new witch but a word of caution; the tests are hard. The questions are not necessarily relevant to a spiritual pursuit, or for a solitary eclectic. If you don’t care to remember exact dates or feel associations are a personal choose I would just take the test to unlock the next lesson and don’t feel the questions are what makes a witch.gbg
  • Witchcraft Today by Gerald B. Gardner– My homework would not be complete if I did not crack open this historic text. For without Witchcraft Today none of this would have been. Personally Gardner was hard to get though. You can tell he thought highly of himself and he is definitely a story teller, but I do have to respect his moxy.  He was one of the first to jump out of the broom closet and allowed the light to shine. I am marveled at how far we have come from then.
  • Wiccan Beliefs & Practices: With Rituals for Solitaries & Covens by Gary Cantrell– Oh my! This is one of the few books I sold back to the book store instead of adding it to my Reclaiming Community book swap bin. Cantrell speaks a lot about a Pagan community that doesn’t exist anymore and not in a positive light. The book is a good overview for basic beliefs and principles of Wicca but is highly outdated of information on the Pagan community as a whole. Cantrell is also rude and dismissive of other paths. I would not suggest this book personally.
  • Wicca, for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham– I read this book as one of my very first baby witch books when I was a teen and knew I needed to reread it when constructing this list. I strongly suggest not just reading Cunningham and then never picking up another book, which I see very frequently. Instead read the books he references. Cunningham has a very light and clear way of explaining difficult concepts and is an author I strongly suggest.
  •  Living Wicca by Scott CunninghamlivingLiving Wicca is the follow up to Solitary Practitioner and gives more information. If a new witch were to pick up these two I do suggest reading a few books in between them instead of reading them in direct succession. Not because he leaves gaps making it difficult to follow, but because if they are all you have to base on you’ll have a very light knowledge.
  • The Spiral Dance by Starhawk– The copy I read was the 20th anniversary edition with 10 years and 20 years notes on how Starhaw currently perceives the concepts written. This is slightly frustrating and fascinating. You get to watch an Elder in the craft grow as a teacher and practitioner but you also get some contradictions. I know a lot of witches that have read Spiral Dance and we all had a similar experience. It reads at its own pace and if you try to power though it you will be slowed down even more. The experience has its own magick to it, ensuring the reader allows for chewing of concepts; and everyone learns something new about themselves while reading it.         margot
  • Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler– This book is probably the most text book like book on this list. Adler preformed numerous tests, handed out dozens of questionnaires, interviewed several people, and completed field research to such an academic level equaling that of a cultural anthropologist. All of her work preserved a fully formed view of the Neo Pagan community of the 1970’s, giving witches today an amazing resource into our development. Readers would be opened to how groups like Covenant of the Goddess formed, Z Budapest first came on the scene, and the formation and subsequent dissolution of many groups otherwise forgotten. I suggest this book to avid readers, history buffs, and any witch that is willing. In all honesty there are sections I skipped and even a chapter I only grazed over, but that’s ok. Read what you can, I guarantee you will get something out of it.
  • Earth, Air, Fire, Water: More Techniques of Natural Magic by Scott Cunningham– I picked this book up hopes to learn how to develop a stronger relationship with the elements. This was the wrong book for that. In his sequel to Earth Magic, Cunningham wrote a spell book focused on natural magick and gave the readers a lesson on how to develop their own spell work within the natural magick structure; with each element and some places the elements can be found. Such as, the difference between water, snow, and ocean magick, or how to use star magick. I still liked and learned from the book it just wasn’t what I was hoping it to be or at a level I was looking for.
  • Maiden, Mother, Crone: The Myth and Reality of the Triple Goddess by D. J. Conway– I honestly was not expecting Conway to be such a feminist, or for this book to be a copulation of myths and stories of the three faces of the Goddess. Once again, I picked up this book and the one below in hopes I would be able to develop a stronger relationship with the Goddess and God. Where this book set me on the right path; it was not as deep on relationship building as I wanted. lord of lightAfter introducing the aspect of the Goddess there is a chapter devoted to braking down mythos from their patriarchal retellings. This was the first book where I read the story of Persephone completely void of Hades. Where it was Kore’s choice to become the queen of the underworld to help the dead not out of marital restrictions, rape, or kidnapping. If you read this and liked Conways views I suggest reading Jailbreaking the Goddess by Lasara Firefox Allen.
  • Lord of Light and Shadow by D. J. Conway– Like Maiden, Mother, Crone Conway wrights to give a feminist view on the Pagan Gods, and I liked it. Now knowing what to expect Conway’s Lord of Light and Shadow gave me more stories that I haven’t read and concepts to chew over. Both books set me on the path to understanding my Patron Gods and Goddesses but only just a taste of their full potential. The main take away I got from Reading Load of Light was that a patriarchal society such as the one we live in also harms men and male passing individuals. I have learned to be more sensitive to the struggles of others.

In the end every book on this list taught me something new and gave me the foundation I have today. I can not express how important it is for Pagans to keep reading and developing deeper understanding of them selves. My plan is to take a break from “witchy” books and catch up on my fiction list before diving back in to a new list.

What are you reading?

Please share with me in the comment!

I started a Twitter! Follow me @AutumnIronWolf

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com, or follow me on Twitter @AutumnIronWolf

 

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The Witches’ Pyramid

The Witches’ Pyramid is a philosophical foundation to magickal practices. There are many different ways to describe, visualize and understand this necessary thought process to effective magic, and no one way is right or better. In this post I will be describing the Pyramid in the way I feel it is easiest to understand for a new witch. As a seeker of a magickal practice please note it takes time and personal exploration to fully invoke these ideals in everyday life but once you do, you will see an extreme improvement to your magick.

The Pyramid is constructed from four statements; To Know, To Will, To Dare, and To Keep Silent. Like the elements called into a circle you must invoke these ideals and their corresponding directions while preparing a magical working. These four statement when working together help build the necessary mindset that is needed for effective magic. I will explain what these statements mean, how to work with them, and how they make your magick work.

pyramid
The Witches Pyramid

 

To Know

The base of our Pyramid and the first ideal needed to creating effective magic. To Know corresponds with the East and the element of air. To use magick effectively you must first know yourself. I tell anyone about to do magick to first know yourself and what you want. Explore what you want from the magick you are about to do on all levels, such as spiritual, emotional, and physically. How can the magick do what you want if you don’t know what that is? Don’t forget the revers of this, know also what you don’t want.

You must also know your craft. I have complained in the past about “Pinterest Spells” or spells you find online and in some books that tell you what to do but not why. If you don’t understand what you are doing, how are you sure it will bring about what you want. The worst part of this is you lose the ability to learn from these simple step by step spells. Ok, you used Basil why? How will you use it in the future? Why did the spell call for fresh instead of dry? You don’t know! These spells if done without more research have robbed you of the ability To Know.

To Will

The next step on the Pyramid corresponds to the South. Like the element of fire To Will is to is the burn to believe.  At the end of a lot of spells you will see the line “As I will, so mote it be.” The will is the strength and the push for magick to work. You know who you are, want you want the magick to do, and the magick that needs to be done; but do you really want it? Do you see yourself with it? The motivation and  determination to do what ever is necessary mundane or magickal is the will to have it so.

To Dare

After you know and have a will for your desire you must dare to get it. Corresponding to the west  To Dare is to commit to the magick without fear. You must let go of fears that you are not good enough, worthy, it won’t work, or you don’t have all of the tools. Like Nike just do it! To dare is to push forward with out fear into the future because what you want is worth it.

shh

To Keep Silent

The tip top of the Pyramid is To Keep Silent. Corresponding to the Earth, north, and winter after you have completed your magick, your lips should be sealed with ice. Less all the strength and  mystery of your working slip between them. Much like the belief of not to barter for magical items a witch does not boast about what magic they have done. You could say this is a precision in case it doesn’t work much like you don’t tell everyone you got a new job before you have had the interview but it is also more then that. The universe works in mysteries ways and you don’t know how your spell is going to manifest. Blabbering about it demotes your respect for the working.

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com

Wiccan vs Witch

What is the difference?

Yes, this is the topic I decide to tackle as my first blog post and if you groaned at the title maybe I’m not the blogger you are looking for. I decided to take on the task of explaining the difference between a Wiccan and a Witch as my first post not because it is so over done but so my readers get a good first taste on how I view our world. I know this topic is breached in every beginners book on the New Age shelf today, and there are a tone of Wicca beginners books out there. There is a reason for this, you have to start somewhere! I’m not writing a book but I do have to out line some of the basics. If not because there maybe one newbie reading my posts, but for thous of us who already know how we feel about this topic and need to be on the same page going forward.

I am one who believes Wicca and Witchcraft are not the same thing. These words can not be interchanged, and for the life of this blog I will be diligent in not using one in place of the other. With that promise being slapped to my forehead on day one lets get down to defining Wicca vs Witchcraft. Starting with the easier of the two. Wicca has been defined by every author to ever write just a little bit differently. To sum up all these different definitions in to the one that I use, Wicca is a religion that respects the earth as not just the third planet from the sun, but a living and breathing source of life. Deity is imitate, meaning present in all things, and thus all things are sacred. Wiccans believe that to tap into the sacred or communion with Deity they can use magick. Since deity is present in all things and all things are sacred, the power of magick comes from within.

If your still following, Witchcraft, or simply the craft, is the system and practice of magick. Now your wondering why after three sentences Wicca was easier to define. Sit back for me and think of all the instances you have heard the word witch. Take all these preconceive notions of what a witch is and go back to that sentence “Witchcraft is the system and practice of magick”. Simple, no worship of evil, no green skin, or contract with an all evil source required. Just the want to work with the forces inside of yourself and all around you. Yeah sure every little witch wishes they could just wiggle their nose and everything falls into place but we understand that magick (not magic) doesn’t work like that.

Now your wondering, if Wicca is a religion that believes to tap into the sacred they can use magick, and the craft is the system and practice of magick; how is Wicca and Witchcraft not the same? Simple, just because Wiccans hold a belief about magick does not mean they have to practice magick; furthermore Witchcraft has no concept of deity and belief other then magic is real and can be used. So a Wiccan does not need to be a witch to fulfill their religious needs and a witch can easily have any religious belief they want and practice their craft.

These words get so mixed up because most Wiccans also practice the craft. You will hear many Wiccans describe the craft as how they practice there religion. They will also tell you how mainstream religion didn’t fit their needs. Wicca in conjunction with the craft put the power back in their hands and made them feel empowered. However, there are just as many Witches that hold other religious beliefs or none at all. In fact there is a growing movement with craft practitioners who feel the craft is fulfilling in of its self and  consider it their religion. This is how we get Catholic Witches and Wiccans who have never performed a spell.

So, how I define myself is I am first a Wiccan, who practices Witchcraft. I will call myself a witch but to tend to ascribe to Wiccan more strongly. This is not to distance myself from the negative stereotypes, or to legitimize my religion over the practice of other. I make this distinction because I practice magick and am a witch as a consequence of being an active Wiccan. I don’t use consequence in a negative way, I am a witch because the working of magick deepens my spirituality and assists me in communing with my deities. This is a good thing. A blessed thing to be able to learn and grow spiritually and magickly at the same time. Yes, my description of this blog in One Witch. I am describing myself as a witch up there because this is a blog for all pagans and magick users. Where I will have plenty of posts about Wicca, I will mostly speak from a overall pagan standpoint.                                                                    The better to include everyone my dear.

In the end, I define Wicca and Witchcraft as two very different labels one can use to describe where they fall in Paganism. One does not mean the other, and both can thrive separate of each other. It is up to the individual to decide what works best for them. So as my reader I implore you to decide if you agree with my explanation and flesh out what you prefer to call yourself. If you have any topic request feel free to suggest them!

This week I suggest reading:                                                                                         The Complete Idiots Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft                                               by Denise Zimmerman and Katherine A. Gleason

Blessed Be,                                                                                                                 Autumn Wolfe