Note: Wiccans do not proselytize. The publications listed here are not shared to promote, advocate or convert you to our religion. They are provided solely for those who are pro-actively seeking access to genuine information about Wicca and Paganism of their own accord. Whether you find these resources helpful or not, we wish you light and health on your spiritual journey/path always.
Many people often ask to be pointed towards "really good books" about the Craft. There's a lot of fluffy stuff out there which can mislead, misguide and deliberately misinform seekers, but we feel the list of books below not only presents our spiritual tradition accurately but also provides well-done research and a wealth of reliable alternative resources. They will be helpful to any genuine seeker and these days most of these books are on any serious witch's bookshelves.
Gentle Introductions to Wicca
Thorsons Pub. / ISBN 0722534515
For those who are new to Wicca or who are simply just curious about it, Vivianne Crowley provides a straightforward, easy-to-read book that covers a definition of what Wicca is, how Wiccans perceive the Universe, the magickal realm, the gods, sabbat rites and a section on groups and contacts for readers who want further information. If you're looking for a detailed, complex treatise on Wicca and its history, this won't be the book for you. But if you're searching for a concise handbook that defines basic tenets and beliefs of Wicca in its purest form, then you may want to add this book to your list. In clear terms, Crowley describes who today's witches are, more about Wicca's origins and what covens are. Neophytes will find a simple diagram of a pentagram with each element described along with a simple visualization to assist with contacting the elements in nature. Crowley also gives a simple explanation of the Wheel of the Year and Wicca's eight major festivals, as well as the remaining four festivals. A description of appropriate altar decorations, colors and the type of magick appropriate to each festival is provided, as well. In the section that covers the magickal realm, Crowley discusses what natural magic is, who does magic and how along with instruction on how to successfully use visualization, feel etheric energy and open the chakras, or special energy centers in the body. Phases of the Goddess and how She relates to the pentagram makes for an interesting read, as does the relationship of the God to the pentagram, too. Exercises to assist with attuning to the Goddess and the God help readers become more familiar with their relationship to the Divine. Finally, Crowley's chapters on creating ritual and the sabbat rites pull the book together in a smooth, informative way. For those who wish to go further and learn more, the author also provides additional resources and contact information. Overall, Crowley's book isn't as detailed and complex as some might want to read - but if you're just testing the waters of Wicca and have a need for a guide that will explain the basics in a reader-friendly way, PRINCIPLES OF WICCA will deliver a concrete foundation upon which to build your beginning path.
Samuel Weiser Inc. / ISBN 1-57863-174-2
The author explains in the introduction that Wicca is an "initiatory Mystery religion" akin to shamanism. Included in the first chapter, is an excellent article, "Paganism at the Crossroads" by Skytoucher, expanding on the idea of an initiatory path, and calling for the preservation of "multi-headed Paganism", and the avoidance of a unified Pagan movement, which will stifle our diversity and flexability. Ellen worries that traditions may be lost in a world where instant Wiccans are popping up everywhere, and calls for "Preservers of the Path." She explains that "tradition" does not mean that there isn't room for growth. All Wiccan traditions have grown and changed over the years. These evolutionary changes have come about because they have been proven as practices to work, not just because someone has decided that they might look good or be fun to add. She knows that tradition is not very popular these days--that people want to do their own things, but wonders why folks want to "hack their way through the underbrush when there is a paved road just a few yards away". She also wonders why people seek out schooling and teachers in almost every facet of life, but when it comes to spirituality, especially Pagan spirituality, many prefer to go it alone, even though there are elders and teachers everywhere who would be more than willing to lead and guide. Although our coven does not practice the Sothistar Tradition of Wicca, Ellen's book is one of the finest overviews of the true spirit and purpose of Wicca as a Path of Initiation that we have found on the shelves to date... so much so that this book is required reading in our coven. Although our coven does not endorse the more formal structure of a Wiccan coven having a single High Priest and High Priestess running it, most of the concepts the author shares about the religion are conveyed with stunning clarity, brevity and simplicity. It's a small book too, a great introduction for the casually interested.
LLewellyn Publications / ISBN 0-87542-118-0
Many seekers have found this short book to be extremely helpful and a great introduction to eclectic Wicca and the religion of Witchcraft as might be practiced by someone who is not a member of a coven. Scott Cunningham shares introductory concepts and philosophies of the Wiccan religion, he overviews basic tools, the holidays, types of magicks, and offers several simple rituals to help solitaires begin their practice. He also provides several resources for further exploration of the religion. Scott wrote a sequel to this book entitled 'Living Wicca' for those desiring further studies in this eclectic form of Wicca, and he has also written several other useful books on crystals and gems, herbs, incenses and oils and other tools often used for magickal purposes.
Phoenix Publishing Inc / ISBN 0-919345-39-5
An account of the birth (at least in the public mind) of the modern craft. Lady Doreen was there for key moments--without her finesse, the Charge of the Goddess would likely be an obscure and arcane document, used only by Gardnerian & related Wiccan traditions. She took much of Gardner's material and transformed it from awkward, ponderous prose, to liturgical poetry. She reminds us that the last witchcraft trial in England took place in 1944, at the Old Bailey. One Helen Duncan, a spiritualist medium, was found guilty under the Witchcraft Act of 1735 and sentenced to 9 months in jail. It was not until June of 1951 that this law was abolished. That July, a newspaper carried a frontpage story, CALLING ALL COVENS, describing a forthcoming witches' gathering, opened by Gerald B. Gardner. She traces the forerunners of the Craft: Charles Godfrey Leland, Margaret Murray, Robert Graves, Dion Fortune, and Aleister Crowley. From this she moves on to Gerald Gardner, and how he came to publicize the Craft. This is followed by a chapter about what it was like working with Old Gerald and one regarding what the intense publicity Gerald generated was like. She writes chapters about John Brakespeare, Robert Cochrane, and Alex Sanders and their traditions. She points out that during this time period, witchcraft was male dominated, certainly not feminist. Women were allowed to hold fancy titles, like Witch Queen, but stil expected to obey the high priest. Her chapter on Feminist Witchcraft tells of Starhawk meeting up with Zuzanna Budapest, considers women's moon mysteries, and the place of homosexuality in the Craft. She concludes the book by observing that the emergence of the Craft in modern times must be fulfilling a deep need. Lady Doreen is a good writer and the material is interesting. Many of the founders of traditions the "inherited" were real characters, and she sprinkles a generous number of anecdotes throughout the book. The book has a reasonably good bibliography for anybody who wishes to do further research.
Beacon Press Boston / ISBN 0-8070-3253-0
That the Pagan community is a very large and very diverse one should come as no surprise to anyone -- except perhaps to a vocal minority within the Christian faith who persist in lumping all of Paganism into "Devil-worship". Confused about the differences between Gardnerian Wicca and Alexandrian Wicca? Not to mention all those other Pagan religions? Then this is the book for you. Margot Adler's ambitious volume is a sort of field guide, if you will. Encyclopedic in scope, it has got to be the definitive overview on the various beliefs and religious practices that fit within the broad term "Paganism". The book's strengths are in the illuminating history it provides about various pioneers of modern Pagan movements. Wicca, in its various permutations, receives the most thorough treatment. The questionnaire Adler includes is an especially valuable reminder that Pagans, like other members of a socioeconomic, racial or otherwise narrowly defined category of human beings, do not share common political views.
Oxford University Press / ISBN 0192854496
Hutton, for those who haven't read his work, is a British historian whose previous major work has been several works on Charles II through the Glorious Revolution; as well as The pagan religions of the ancient British Isles (about the documentable religions and religious practices of pre-Christian Britain), The rise and fall of merry England: the ritual year, 1400-1700 (a history of festivals and holidays in Britain), and Stations of the Sun (the ritual year in Britain and its history). Essentially the latter two look at the same overall field of evidence from two different angles, triangulating on the fact that the most ancient festivals and holidays that are claimed to stretch back to the ancient pagan past, can (virtually) all be documented to have developed in the late medieval and post-medieval world. If you can't see the pattern here, his interest seems to have been trying to back-track elements of modern pagan tradition and mythology. It should be noted that at no time does he ever stray from his essential (and frequently stated) premise - that modern paganism is a perfectly valid modern religious format. It is from this foundation that he finally takes the leap in his Triumph of the Moon, wherein he examines the history of modern paganism and places it into its place in a larger counter-cultural tradition stretching back at least to the Romantic period (if you've seen his article on the Great Neolithic Goddess Cult that appeared in Antiquity several years ago, you may have some idea of where the path this has taken). He discusses what he sees as the essential elements of Language (what do we mean by "paganism"), Goddess, God, Stucture (basically Freemasonic), High Magic, Low Magic, Folklore (Golden Bough and Frazer's followers), Witchcraft (such as Murray and Leland), and the Matrix of post-Victorian England in which all of these "Macrocosmic" elements were brought together and influenced by the works of Aleister Crowley, Dion Fortune and Robert Graves. His short biographies of these three range from the balanced and thoughtful (Crowley) to the somewhat more aggressive (Graves). From this birthplace, he examines the history of Gardner and his genealogy, re-examining the same old information with the perspective of (at least what looks like) objectivity - noting the different emergent groups that appear (and rather than simply assuming that they are "Gardnerian offshoots" noting the influences when they are there, but also examining their individual histories). He also notes and describes the earlier scholarly works that have preceded him into this field, from Aiden Kelly and Margot Adler to Tanya Luhrmann and others -- as well as their influences and the influences of their material on neo-Paganism as a whole. His conclusion presents a snapshot of pagan witchcraft at the end of the 20th century in Britain. I make that specific, since covens are still a little more the norm in Britain than they are here in the US. Very nice work, all in all. He does not, in my opinion, lose his objectivity for the most part - and when he does it's to lean more towards the feelings of the people he's studied. For example, his treatment of the Neolithic Mother Goddess, in this work, while clearly showing the implausibility, does not exclude its possibility. In short, if you are truly interested in the history of neo-Paganism, read it. It's worth it - you may not always agree with him, but he will give you a fresh perspective.
Citadel Press / ISBN 0806520353
This book is not a step by step book on how to set up a working group, study group, or coven, whatever the subtitle may imply. It is a book of coven dynamics, psychology, and all the other messy parts of running and being in a coven, that you hope you will never deal with, but you will. Judy Harrow has a background in psychology and human relationships, and that is the main focus of the book. It covers a great deal that will be needed by anyone working in a group with the strong personal ties that any religious and work group will form. Most of this book covers how to deal with loss, with growth, what kind of parent/child or teacher/student relationships may form, and how to deal with them. In addition it covers some magical and practical matters such as: picking the right kind of group for you, finding a working method you can work with, and the drawbacks and advantages of different styles of leadership. The sections on dealing with the coven member's problems, the press, the public, the prima donna, and other chronic issues, will be useful to any member of any coven. The book is drawn mostly from the personal experiences of the author, with comentary on "how to handle problems" and "what happened to me" from several other coven leaders and elders. Many times the disagreements of these sources about how to handle particular problems, what to teach in what order, etc. is just as informative as when they agree. Many of them contributed ritual, prayers, and other liturgy which are scattered through the book.
If you're really looking to study Wicca seriously, by yourself or with others, if you're the kind of person who believes that anything worth doing well is worth studying hard for and practicing a lot of, if you're not out for an instant gratification magickal fix, then we encourage you to examine the study sources listed further below. The materials listed there have provided our coven members with reliable reading materials (in fact they are required reading for our initiates) of our practice of Wicca and we feel they would be invaluable to anyone looking to understand more about the growing neo-Pagan movement in this country.
Our Study Session Materials