The 13 Best Books About Witchcraft

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Now that you've decided you want to learn about contemporary Wicca or another modern Pagan path, what should you read? After all, there are literally thousands of books on the subject. Some are good, but others... well, not so much. Be sure to read What Makes a Book Worth Reading? for some insight as to what separates the good from the bad.

This list features the thirteen books that every Wiccan – and many other Pagans – should have on their shelves. A few are historical, a few more focus on modern Wiccan practice, but they're all worth reading more than once. Bear in mind that while some books may purport to be about Wicca, they are often focused on NeoWicca, and do not contain the oathbound, or secret, material found in traditional Wiccan practice. That said, there is still a lot of great information that you can learn from them!

"Drawing Down the Moon" by Margot Adler

Drawing Down the Moon
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

If you want to learn about birds, you get a field guide about birds. If you want to learn about mushrooms, you get a field guide to mushrooms. Drawing Down the Moon is a field guide to Pagans. Rather than offering up a book of spells and recipes, the late Margot Adler presented an academic work that evaluates modern Pagan religions, including Wicca, and the people who practice them. Drawing Down the Moon makes no apologies for the fact that not all Wiccans are full of white light and fluff, but instead tells it like it is. Adler's style was entertaining and informative, and it's a bit like reading a really well-done thesis paper.

"Complete Book of Witchcraft" by Raymond Buckland

Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft
Courtesy of Llewellyn Publications

Raymond Buckland is one of Wicca's most prolific writers, and his work Complete Book of Witchcraft continues to remain popular two decades after it was first published - and for good reason. Although this book represents a more eclectic flavor of Wicca rather than a particular tradition, it's presented in a workbook-like format that allows new seekers to work through the exercises at their own pace, learning as they go. For more seasoned readers, there's a lot of useful information as far as rituals, tools, and magic itself. 

"Wicca, A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner" by Scott Cunningham

A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
Courtesy of Llewellyn Publications

The late Scott Cunningham wrote a number of books before his untimely death, but Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner remains one of the best known and most useful. Although the tradition of witchcraft in this book is more Cunningham's eclectic path than any other tradition, it's full of information on how to get started in your practice of Wicca and magic. If you're interested in learning and practicing as an individual, and not necessarily jumping into a coven right off the bat, this book is a valuable resource.

"Witch Crafting" by Phyllis Curott

Witch Crafting: A Spiritual Guide to Making Magic: Phyllis Curott
Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Phyllis Curott is one of those people who who will make you glad to be Pagan, because she's completely relatable. An attorney who has spent her life working on First Amendment issues, Curott has managed to put together a really useful book. Witch Crafting is not a collection of spells, rituals or prayers. It's a hard and fast look at magical ethics, the polarity of male and female in the divine, finding the god and goddess in your everyday life, and the pros and cons of coven life vs. solitary paths. Curott also offers up a very interesting take on the Rule of Three

"Pagans and the Law - Understand Your Rights" by Dana Eilers

Pagans and the Law
Courtesy of Career Press

The late Dana D. Eilers spent many years facilitating an event called Conversations With Pagans, and from that she wrote a book entitled The Practical Pagan. She then drew on her experience as an attorney to write Pagans and the Law: Understand Your Rights. This book goes into depth about precedents in religious discrimination lawsuits, how to protect yourself if you may be a victim of workplace harassment, and how to document everything if your spirituality is leading someone to treat you unfairly. 

"A Witches’ Bible: The Complete Witches’ Handbook" by Stewart & Janet Farrar

A Witches Bible
Courtesy of Phoenix Publishing

The first section of this book goes into depth on Sabbat rites, and the meanings behind the holidays are expanded on. While the ceremonies are the Farrars' own, there's a heavy influence of the Gardnerian tradition, as well as Celtic folklore and some other European history. The second half of the book is in fact another book, which looks at the beliefs, ethics, and practice of modern witchcraft. Despite the fact that the authors are a bit conservative by today's standards, this book is an excellent look at the transitioning concept of what exactly it is that makes someone a witch.

"Witchcraft Today" by Gerald Gardner

Witchcraft Today
Courtesy of Citadel Press

Gerald Gardner was the founder of modern Wicca as we know it, and of course of the Gardnerian tradition. His book Witchcraft Today is a worthy read, however, for seekers on any Pagan path. Although some of the statements in Witchcraft Today should be taken with a grain of salt -- after all, Gardner was a folklorist and that shines through in his writing -- it's still one of the foundations that contemporary Wicca is based on. 

"Triumph of the Moon" by Ronald Hutton

The Triumph of the Moon
Courtesy of Oxford University Press

Triumph of the Moon is a book about Pagans by a non-Pagan, and Ronald Hutton, a highly respected professor, does an excellent job. This book looks at the emergence of contemporary Pagan religions, and how they not only evolved from the Pagan societies of the past, but also owe heavily to 19th-century poets and scholars. Despite his status as a scholar, Hutton's breezy wit makes this a refreshing read, and you'll learn far more than you ever expected to about today's Pagan religions.

"The Craft: A Witch's Book of Shadows" by Dorothy Morrison

The Craft
Courtesy of Llewellyn Publications

Dorothy Morrison is one of those writers who doesn't hold back, and while her book The Craft is aimed at beginners, she manages to create a work that can be useful for anyone. Morrison includes exercises and rituals which are not only practical, but teaching tools as well. Despite its focus on the lighter side of witchcraft, it's a good starting point for anyone trying to learn about Wicca, and how to create your own rituals and workings. 

"A History of Witchcraft" by Jeffrey Russell

A history of Witchcraft
Courtesy Thames & Hudson

Historian Jeffrey Russell presents an analysis of witchcraft in an historical context, from the early days of Medieval Europe, through the witch craze of the Renaissance, and up into modern times. Russell doesn't bother trying to fluff up the history to make it more palatable to today's Wiccans, and takes a look at three different kinds of witchcraft – sorcery, diabolical witchcraft, and modern witchcraft. A noted religious historian, Russell manages to make an entertaining yet informative read, as well as accepting that witchcraft in and of itself can in fact be a religion.

"A Book of Pagan Prayer" by Ceisiwr Serith

A Book of Pagan Prayer
Courtesy of Weiser Books

There is nothing else on the market like Ceisiwr Serith's A Book of Pagan Prayer. Despite the fact that some view prayer as a Christian concept, many Pagans do pray. This unique book features hundreds of prayers written to meet the needs of Pagans from a wide range of traditions. There are prayers for life events, such as handfastings, births, and deaths; for times of the year such as the harvest and midsummer, as well as petitions and litanies offered to different gods. Serith also covers the theories behind prayer – how and why we do it, as well as tips on creating your own, personal prayers. 

"The Spiral Dance" by Starhawk

The Spiral Dance
Courtesy of HarperOne

While The Spiral Dance is one of the best-known books on Wicca, it's also one of the most spiritually profound. Written by noted activist Starhawk, The Spiral Dance leads us on a journey through the spirituality of feminine consciousness. Sections on raising the cone of power, trance magic, and magical symbolism make it worth reading. Bear in mind that the original edition of this book was published twenty years ago, and Starhawk herself has said she's reconsidered some of the things she said the first time around, particularly in reference to the polarity of the male/female. 

"Witchcraft for Tomorrow" by Doreen Valiente

Witchcraft for Tomorrow
Courtesy of Robert Hale Publishing

If Gerald Gardner is the great-grandfather of modern Wicca, Doreen Valiente is the wise granny who offers wisdom and counsel. A contemporary of Gardner's, she is credited with the beautiful, evocative Charge of the Goddess, and may well have been responsible for much of Gardner's original Book of Shadows. Valiente spends a good amount of the book discussing the historical contexts of a number of rituals and practices in use today, but also takes care to acknowledge that practices and beliefs change even if the intent remains constant, and she points out ancient sources that may or may not be the root of contemporary ideals. Though it helps to have some knowledge of British Traditional Wicca beforehand, this book is a must-read for anyone.

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Your Citation
Wigington, Patti. "The 13 Best Books About Witchcraft." Learn Religions, Apr. 6, 2023, Wigington, Patti. (2023, April 6). The 13 Best Books About Witchcraft. Retrieved from Wigington, Patti. "The 13 Best Books About Witchcraft." Learn Religions. (accessed June 5, 2023).