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Oldenwilde's Recommended Wiccan Reading List

Reading good books on Wicca is one of the best ways to determine if the Craft is really the right Path for you. Many books about Wicca and Witchcraft are appearing on bookstore shelves these days. Be careful, though: a great many of these are hastily produced "bandwagon" books -- superficial at best, and misleading or deceptive at worst.

Beware of sweetness-and-light authors, full of incense recipes and candle spells but empty of depth and scholarship (such as Silver Ravenwolf). On the other hand, don't be seduced by snidely intellectual writers who claim that Gerald Gardner or Margaret Murray made Wicca up -- remember that their sole knowledge about the subject comes from what they read in the library, and much genuinely ancient Craft lore (passed down through initiatory Traditions such as the Gardnerian) has never been published. Lastly, be critical of authors who do claim to reveal Craft secrets: Either they are breaking Initiatory oaths of secrecy to publish some authentic material (as did Janet and Stewart Farrar and Raymond Buckland), or -- more often -- they are merely trying to cast a glamour of authenticity around a hoax (as with The 21 Lessons of Merlin  and The Necronomicon ).

The books we recommend here are written by genuinely knowledgeable and experienced authors. Many of them, however, may be hard to obtain (especially if you live in a rural or conservative area that has no metaphysical bookstores). We have been pleased to find that almost all of the books we recommend are available at below-list prices from You can now purchase them on this webpage by clicking on the title. This also helps support Coven Oldenwilde, which receives a percentage of the cover price from any book you buy from through our site.

Our Rating System:

***** = our all-time favorites
**** = excellent, indispensable
*** = good, but some flaws
Not recommended:
** = not what it's cracked up to be
* = a waste of wood pulp

Table of Contents

Wiccan Basics Related Subjects


Wiccan Basics

***** The Goodly Spellbook: Olde Spells for Modern Problems
Dixie Deerman & Steve Rasmussen (Lady Passion & *Diuvei) (Sterling Publishing Co., 2005)
We've written TGS to be the thoroughly comprehensive, absolutely definitive guide to spellworking -- the book we wish we had when we began learning how to practice real hands-on magic. An easy yet intruiging read:
See for yourself!
ORDER NOW and it will be automatically shipped to you upon PUBLICATION IN JUNE 2005.

For the Beginner

**** Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers and Other Pagans in America Today
Margot Adler (Beacon Press, 1986)
Best beginner's book; well-researched history of the Craft with interviews of different types of practicing Pagans/Witches; moderately difficult read
**** An ABC of Witchcraft
Doreen Valiente (Phoenix Publishing, 1973)
Paragraph descriptions of ancient and modern Craft practices, concepts and beliefs from Amber to Zeus; contains a high amount of research and historical Craft folklore
**** The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca and Neo-paganism,
Raymond Buckland (Visible Ink Press, 2002)
Excellent reference source, full of fascinating, accurate, and often first-hand information on Craft practices, history, and celebrities both ancient and modern; Buckland's best book yet; moderately easy read
*** The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines
Patricia Monaghan (Llewellyn, 1997)
A - Z listing of hundreds of goddesses' lore and attributes; multi-cultural examples; excellent indexes and feast-day calendar; easy read, difficult pronunciations; some subjective interpretations, however
*** Alexandria: The Journal Of The Western Cosmological Traditions, Vol. 1 (1991), Vol. 2 (1994), Vol. 3 (1995)
Edited by David Fideler (Phanes Press)
Treatments of various Pagan topics: Life of Hypatia, Orphic Hymn to Artemis, Sacred Geography of the Ancient Greeks, The Science & Art of Animating Statues, Pythagorean Harmonics, etc.; moderately difficult read
** The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess
Starhawk (Harper-Collins Publishers, 1989)
A simple manual of practice for beginners with a high feminist and eclectic content, perhaps over-inclusive
** Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft
Raymond Buckland (Llewellyn, 1990)
Basic workbook style for beginning Wiccan practice, with exercises; despite his claims, completing this book will NOT make you "the equivalent of [a] Third Degree" Witch
** Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner
Scott Cunningham (Llewellyn, 1990)
Simplistic, innocuous guide to "white Witchcraft"; broad overview of basic Wicca for new Witches who work alone; easy read
* The Necronomicon
"Abdul Alhazred" (various fake editions)
The "Book of Dead Names" never existed anywhere save in H.P. Lovecraft's horror fiction; nevertheless, a half-dozen different "reprints" have been concocted and marketed as if they were "real" books of magic

Craft Fundamentals

***** Three Books of Occult Philosophy
Henry Cornelius Agrippa (Llewellyn Publications, 1993)
The ultimate and essential textbook on magic, explaining its foundation in the art of correspondences and its application in spellwork, divination, invocation, etc.; probably the most influential occult book ever written; deep read -- action-provoking
***** Aradia: Gospel of the Witches
Charles G. Leland (Phoenix Publishing, 1990; orig. 1890) (Also available on audio-cassette.)
Italian (Strega) Witchcraft doctrine; contains many old Pagan/Wiccan myths/spells; authentic folk magic practices documented by a folklorist; moderately easy read.
*** A Witches Bible Compleat
Janet and Stewart Farrar (Magickal Childe, 1984)
Alexandrian magical theory and practice with Irish and English emphasis; moderately difficult read

Myth and Folklore

**** The Great Mother: An Analysis of an Archetype
Erich Neumann, trans. Ralph Manheim (Princeton/Bollingen, 1991)
Beautifully illustrated, thorough, historical exploration of the Goddess in all Her aspects (Primordial, Bestial, Negative, Powerful, etc.). Detailed, scholarly treatment from a Jungian perspective, chock full of ancient lore.Widely considered the seminal classic on the subject. Moderately difficult read.
*** The Golden Bough: The Roots of Religion and Folklore
James G. Frazier (Crown Publishers, 1981)
Compendium of myth, folklore, and customs from around the world, especially Europe and Greece/Rome; moderately difficult read
*** Witchcraft: The Old Religion
Dr. Leo Martello (Citadel Press, 1973)
Fascinating "snapshot in time" of the Wiccan community in the early 1970's and the challenges of a new era of sudden popularity and rapid expansion. Written by a practicing Stregan High Priest and early Pagan-rights activist. Includes rare interviews with such seminal figures as Gardnerian HPS Lady Theos and "Welsh Traditionalist" Ed Buczynski, and some true magical lore. Though promised chapter on Stregeria turns out to be just a travelogue of Sicily, seasoned Crafters will be delighted with Martello's angry dismissal of Xtianity, as well as his candid opinions on then- current Craft controversies. Easy read.
** The White Goddess: A historical grammar of poetic myth
Robert Graves (The Noonday Press, 1966)
Speculative poetic approach to myth, history and magical correspondences; difficult read; take everything here with a grain of salt


***** A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science
Michael S. Schneider (HarperCollins, 1994)
Best modern introduction to sacred geometry and numerology; see especially his chapter on the centrality of the pentagram and the number 5 in generative processes of life; many well chosen illustrations; moderately easy read
**** Saravá! Afro-Brazilian Magick
Dr. Carol L. Dow, a.k.a. Morwyn (Llewellyn, 1997)
Thorough explanation of Brazilian mystery religions (Candomble, Umbanda, Amerindian, etc.) written by a Wiccan priestess; experience-based and accurate; illustrated; easy read
*** The Magician's Companion: A Practical and Encyclopedic Guide to Magical and Religious Symbolism
Bill Whitcomb (Llewellyn, 1993)
Practical, scholarly collation of the world's great magical systems; many charts and correspondence tables
*** Ways of the Strega -- Italian Witchcraft: Its Lore, Magick and Spells
Raven Grimassi (Llewellyn, 1995)
lllustrated with line drawings. Ways of the Strega is an easy-to-read explanation of Stregheria. Includes many arcane magical gestures, postures and Stregan symbols, as well as Italian star, moon and herbal lore, and other information on the worshippers of the Goddess Diana.
*** The Key of Solomon The King (Clavicula Solomonis)
edited by S.Liddell MacGregor Mathers (Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1972)
Old ceremonial magic techniques; a classic, but a difficult read, not recommended for the beginner
* To Ride A Silver Broomstick
Silver Ravenwolf (Llewellyn, 1993)
Vapid, insipid, and uninspired. This blatant rip-off of Scott Cunningham's basic Wiccan techniques remains bizarrely popular, largely because of its breezy writing style. This book and all others like it in her series (To Stir A Magick Cauldron, To Light A Sacred Flame, Angels, etc.) show a marked lack of magical depth, training, or education. We personally knew Silver's teacher, and hereby sadly relate that she has had no serious Craft training (nor genuine initiatory lineage through him, as the man's own teacher acknowledged to us). She is to Wicca what Lynne Andrews is to Native American religions -- a popular profiteer.

Countering Fundamentalist Christianity

***** The Death of Classical Paganism
John Holland Smith (Chas. Scribner's Sons, 1976)
Best and most scholarly sourcebook (written by an avowed pagan) on a shamefully neglected chapter of history -- the near-genocidal persecution, destruction, and slaughter of pagans and pagan culture after Christianity's takeover of the Roman Empire; moderately difficult read
**** Who Wrote the Bible?
Richard Elliott Friedman (Harper & Row, 1989)
Summary of current scholarly consensus on the (very human) origins of the principal books of the Old Testament; controversial and thought-provoking
**** The Gnostic Gospels
Elaine Pagels (Random House, 1979)
Discusses the dozen or so alternative gospels suppressed by the early church from the New Testament and rediscovered in 1945; many were mystical, others opposed Church authority, and others made Mary Magdalene the chief apostle; moderately difficult read
**** The Origin of Satan
Elaine Pagels (Random House, 1995)
Shows how the concept of Satan derives from early church's demonization of the "intimate enemy", Jews and heretics; moderately difficult read
*** A Chronicle Of The Last Pagans
Pierre Chuvin (Harvard University Press, 1990)
History of the persecution of Classical Paganism; scholarly; some author bias noted; easy read
*** The Christians As The Romans Saw Them
Robert L. Wilken (Yale Press, 1984)
Pagan writings and views of emergent movement of the Early Church from such authors as Pliny, Porphyry and Celsus; some Xtian bias apparent on the part of the author; moderately difficult read


Related Subjects


**** The Arkana Dictionary of Astrology
Fred Gettings (Arkana, 1985)
Very good encyclopedia of astrological concepts, with a special emphasis on magic (e.g. sigils, lunar mansions, the zodiacal pentagram traced out by Venus's conjunctions with the Sun); moderately difficult read
**** Celestial Guide
Jim Maynard (Quicksilver Productions, yearly)
A calendar/appointment book that is also a great introduction to astrology emphasizing daily aspects, with charts and graphic displays


**** The Enchanted Alphabet: A Guide to Authentic Rune Magic and Divination
Dr. James M. Peterson (The Aquarian Press, 1988)
Best guide to runic divination and spellwork; historically accurate with a high folklore content; easy read; currently out of print, unfortunately
**** Tarot Spells
Janina Renee (Llewellyn, 1992)
How to use Tarot cards in spells; A - Z categories of problem-solving spells; easy read with many illustrations
*** Fate & Prediction: An Historical Compendium of Astrology, Palmistry & Tarot
Fred Gettings (Exeter Books/Bookthrift, 1980)
Excellent reference book featuring scores of pictures and illustrations; reader is advised to ignore the author's occasionally obvious religious biases and concentrate on his insightful interpretations; thought-provoking, moderately difficult read

Fiction: Craft Novels

**** Practical Magic
Alice Hoffman (Berkley/Penguin, 1996)
Though the movie based on this novel improves upon it, the book also contains much true Craft lore throughout, especially in conveying the timeless beauty and power of ordinary Witches' real magical and love lives. The book -- like the film -- delights the senses with its rich descriptions of actual magical practices. Easy to read; finally, the entertainment industry is getting it that Witches are real people, not horror-movie stereotypes.
**** The Sea Priestess
Dion Fortune
Prequel to Moon Magic  (below), The Sea Priestess  follows the heroine's initial call to Wicca and her training to become a Craft Priestess. Lyrically written in a magically evocative style. The author was a well-known and experienced British Witch, and included much true Wiccan lore. Easy to read, enchanting.
*** Moon Magic
Dion Fortune (Society of the Inner Light, 1989)
The sequel to The Sea Priestess, Moon Magic  details the heroine's deeper Workings as a solitary Crone. Desiring a Hieros Gamos-style magical union of masculine and feminine energies, she fascinates an ascetic Xtian doctor/skeptic toward the inevitable. Fortune's lyrical wordsmithing is highly evocative and empowering for women. Easy to read, haunting.
*** The Mists of Avalon
Marion Zimmer Bradley
Arthurian mythos as told from the magical perspective of Morgan Le Fey as a good, powerful and wise, classically trained, but misunderstood Witch. Includes much historical Wiccan lore. Xtian-esque climax may be disappointing (albeit reflects its eccentric author's real-life prejudices), but readers will appreciate the difficult choices inherent in the lives of many female Witches. Easy to read; long tale peopled with well-known mythic characters.
*** Catmagic
Whitley Streiber (Wilson and Neff, 1986)
Cat as God/dess avenger, real Wiccan lore, bad Xtians, a High Priestess' self-sacrifice, a quaint Witch village... The author circled and consulted with a Craft group in order to include some authentic Craft knowledge. Deep, raw magical themes! Provocative...


***** The Herbal: or, General History of Plants
John Gerard (1633 Edition, ill. and enlarged by Thomas Johnson; Dover, 1975)
Immense, illustrated, historical record of all known herbs, compiled during the Elizabethan Renaissance. Replete with plant type categories, medicinal and magical properties, recipes, common uses, land of origin, lists of virtues, cross-reference lists, and common and Latin names of each herb. Book is large and weighs about 20 pounds. Faint typesetting and Old English spelling pose an initial challenge to the reader, but those who pine for genuine ancient lore will treasure its worth. An excellent resource for serious herbalists!
***** Folklore and Odysseys of Food and Medicinal Plants
Ernst and Johanna Lehner (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1973)
Illustrated exploration of ancient herbal lore and the magical use of food. Its only drawback is that the reader is left wishing the authors had included even more information! Easy to read, with pen-and-ink illustrations of plants and ancient Pagan glyphs.

History and Politics

***** Hemp & The Marijuana Conspiracy: The Emperor Wears No Clothes
Jack Herer (HEMP/Queen of Clubs Publishing, 1990)
Well-researched history of Marijuana's positive influence on humanity; many pictures, illustrations, and article reprints document Cannabis's therapeutic, economic, and environmental usefulness; variable print size (at times, microscopic), but otherwise an easy read
***** Lost Country Life: How English country folk lived, worked, threshed, thatched, rolled fleece, milled corn, brewed mead...
Dorothy Hartley (Pantheon, 1979)
Excellent, poetic how-to book on medieval English country practices of daily living -- traditional implements, dress, construction of dwellings, etc.; explains how traditional folk prospered using common sense and creativity; illustrated; easy read; very hard to find, however (snap it up if you do!)
***** A People's History Of The United States
Howard Zinn (Harper & Row, 1980)
Superb exploration of suppressed history from common folk perspective; difficult read
***** The Great Divide: Second Thoughts On The American Dream
Studs Terkel (Avon Books, 1988)
Modern American reality from the perspective of average citizens; thought-provoking, easy read
**** Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
James W. Loewen (The New Press, 1995)
True history often white-washed and suppressed in school; fascinating, illustrated; easy read
**** In God's Name: An Investigation into the Murder of Pope John Paul I
David A. Yallop (Acacia, 1997)
Disturbingly true investigative account reveals evidence this popular, reform-minded priest's sudden and never-explained death 33 days after his election to the papacy in 1978 was a means to prevent his public disclosure of widespread financial and political corruption throughout the Vatican -- particularly the Vatican Bank's deep enmeshment in the CIA's support of "anti-communist" dictators and death squads through the notorious "P-2 Lodge" of neo-fascist financiers, generals, and politicians. Photo illustrations. Intricate, accurate documentation. Moderately difficult read.
**** The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture
Wendell Berry (Sierra Club, 1977)
Estrangement from the land as cultural, ecological and character crisis; espouses spiritual depth, balance of energy, body and Earth's needs; easy read
**** The Development Dictionary
Edited by Wolfgang Sachs (Zed Books, London, 1992)
Powerful ammunition for countering such modern socio-economic myths as "development", "progress", "resources"; difficult read


**** Plato's Republic
Plato (various editions)
Plato's philosophy -- that archetypal ideas govern the world of matter and time -- is the underlying philosophy of magic; moderately difficult read (but easier in the more modern translations)


**** Exploring Reincarnation
Hans TenDam (Penguin Books, 1990)
Detailed survey of reincarnation evidence and techniques; moderately difficult read


**** The Tao of Physics
Fritjof Capra (Shambhala, 1991)
Quantum physics theory explained in layman's terms with spiritual/science connections emphasized; deep, thought-provoking
**** The Secret Life of Plants
Peter Tompkins & Christopher Bird (Avon Books, 1974)
Thoroughly researched account of the psychic, electromagnetic, and magical properties of plants, and their interactions with humans; fascinating, easy read
*** Religion, Science, and Magic: In Concert and In Conflict
edited by Jacob Neusner et al. (Oxford University Press, 1989)
Scholarly essays on how various historical and modern cultures draw the fine line between religion and magic; moderately difficult read


*** Adam, Eve and the Serpent
Elaine Pagels (Vintage Books, 1989)
Scholarly consideration of the origin and history of the Christian view of sex as sinful; thought-provoking


**** The Stones Of Time: Calendars, Sundials & Stone Chambers Of Ancient Ireland
Martin Brennan (Inner Traditions International, 1994)
Fascinating illustrated guide to deciphering the swirls, waves and dots on ancient stone menhirs prevalent in Neolithic sites; easy read
**** Secrets Of Ancient & Sacred Places: The World's Mysterious Heritage
Paul Deveraux (Blandford Books, London, 1996)
Lavishly illustrated explanation of the sacred geometry and geography of the world's sacred places; fascinating and scholarly; moderately difficult read
*** Magic Symbols
Frederick Goodman (Brian Todd Publishing House Limited, London, 1989)
Historical origins and uses of symbols in magic; well-researched, yet easy to read with many illustrations

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Latest update: 02 April 2005