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 steadfast curriculum to finish what some call their Dedicant Year(s). This list was written 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 read at all. I am a slow reader, fearless in perusing the end of any book and enjoy reading textbook like texts 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 is 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 choice I would just take the test to unlock the next lesson and don’t feel the questions are what makes a witch.
- 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 through. You can tell he thought highly of himself and he is definitely a storyteller, 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 bookstore 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 of 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 Cunningham– Living 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 Starhawk 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 through 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.
- Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler– This book is probably the most textbook like book on this list. Adler performed 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 on 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. After introducing the aspect of the Goddess there is a chapter devoted to breaking 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 Conway’s 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 of 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 a deeper understanding of themselves. My plan is to take a break from “witchy” books and catch up on my fiction list before diving back into a new list.
What are you reading?
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