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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Good Books for Witches, Shamans, Magicians etc.

– or for those who want to learn more about these matters.

My personal favourites:

Urban Shaman by Serge Kahili King. Available in both paperback and ebook.

My very favourite book on magic. Loving, practical, readable, varied, well-informed, and 'from the horse's mouth'. King is a Hawaiian shaman, brought up in a family of them, who has also studied other forms/traditions of shamanism.

'Uniquely suited for use in today's world, Hawaiian shamanism follows the way of the adventurer, which produces change through love and cooperation - in contrast to the widely known way of the warrior, which emphasizes solitary quests and conquest by power.'  – Amazon review

The Spiral Dance by Starhawk.  Available in ebook and paperback. This is the 20th anniversary edition. Contains both theory and practice.

"This bestselling classic is both an unparalleled reference on the practices and philosophies of Witchcraft and a guide to the life-affirming ways in which readers can turn to the Goddess to deepen their sense of personal pride, develop their inner power, and integrate mind, body, and spirit. Starhawk's brilliant, comprehensive overview of the growth, suppression, and modern-day re-emergence of Wicca as a Goddess-worshipping religion has left an indelible mark on the feminist spiritual consciousness."   – Amazon review.

Power of the Witch by Laurie Cabot (known as 'the official witch of Salem'). Available in ebook, paperback and hard cover. Readable, practical, comprehensive. 

Cabot includes, among other things, a brief history of 'the old religion', and techniques for putting oneself in an alpha state, which helps in performing magic. She draws very much on her own experience in explaining how various practices work.

This is an updated edition from the one I have, but appears to be very similar.

Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham. Available as ebook, paperback, and MP3 CD.

Cunningham's personal journey, and everything you need to know to make your own journey.

Cunningham’s classic introduction to Wicca is about how to live life magically, spiritually, and wholly attuned with nature. It is a book of sense and common sense ...  and one of the most critical issues of today: how to achieve the much needed and wholesome relationship with our Earth. Cunningham presents Wicca as it is today: a gentle, Earth-oriented religion dedicated to the Goddess and God.  
Amazon review.

A Witch Alone: Thirteen Moons to Master Natural Magic by Marian Green

Another book for the solitary practitioner; this one arranged as a course of study with Green as kindly mentor.  It is written for people living in the UK, and some exercises and references are specific for that country, but it still offers much of broader interest.

'It is a practical manual of instruction for those who choose the solo path of study and particularly stresses the importance of being in tune with nature. As there are approximately 13 moons each year – the book is divided into 13 parts. Each section is aimed at lasting from the new moon to the dark to make the student fully aware of the changing power in the tides of the sea and the tides of the self.'  – Amazon review.

Witch: a personal journey by Fiona Horne. Available in ebook and paperback. (Horne is also known as a rock musician, radio and TV personality, and actress.) 

This is a down-to-earth, contemporary manual for the present-day witch, complete with using your computer to cast spells! An Aussie, she takes into account the requirements of the Southern Hemisphere, without ignoring the Northern. It includes interviews with some other notable witches.
She was quite a young woman when she wrote it, and it has a refreshingly direct, breezy style without being flippant. She can write, and she knows her stuff. 

Positive Magic by Marion Weinstein. Available in ebook and paperback.

The subtitle, Ancient Metaphysical Techniques for Modern Lives, explains the content. Although Weinstein is a witch, this book is more about magic than witchcraft. It is particularly about occult methods, and includes sections on Tarot and Astrology. The focus is on self-help, self-transformation.

I love it best for the section on 'Words of Power', a way of working with the mind to achieve results, which I find very useful.

Instructions in Gardnerian Wicca:

Gerald Gardner was responsible for popularising the religion of Wicca in the 20th Century.  Neo-Paganism is evolving, and many modern witches, including me, have departed from Gardner's specific teachings and procedures. However, if you are interested in what some regard as the classic, traditional way of working, you can learn it from these books.

A Witches' Bible: The Complete Witches' Handbook: by Janet and Stewart Farrar. Available in hard cover and paperback. There is also a free down-loadable pdf version.

This thick book is actually two books in one: The Sabbats, and Rites for Birth, Marriage and Death, and Principles, Rituals and Beliefs of Modern Witchcraft. It was written by the High Priest and High Priestess of a Gardnerian coven. (They were also trained in Alexandrian Wicca, which developed from Gardnerian and is very similar.) It is the complete text of these beliefs and practices, well indexed and with comprehensive Glossary and Bibliography.

Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Millennium by Vivianne Crowley. Available in hard cover and paperback. (The one shown is the newer edition with slightly different subtitle.)

This covers the same ground as The Witches' Bible, but more succinctly. It is still an authoritative work of considerable scholarship, also with good Index and Bibliography.

Crowley (no relation to the famous – or infamous – Aleister) also addresses psychological aspects of the Craft. 

These authors have also written a number of other books on witchcraft, magic and related topics. There are many more excellent works by many other people; this is a brief and subjective list.