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An Annotated Bibliography for Witchcraft

[by Mike Nichols]

Subject: An Annotated Bibliography for Witchcraft

       The Magic of Ancient Celtic Beliefs in a Contemporary Society

   (Note from Daven:  I have personally read most of these texts and
   references.  I find them to be some of the best sources of
   information.  I highly recommend all these books, and I will append a
   list of my own personal favorites to the end of this article. Or at
   least, put the rest of the "recommended reading lists" there.)

   The purpose of this listing is to help the novice sort out the
   reliable from the sensational in the wealth of material that is now
   available on Witchcraft. I have left out old historical treatises
   (records of the Inquisition and such) which are of little value to the
   modern student, and have concentrated instead on contemporary sources.
   This also yields a much more objective perspective. ~~ Mike Nichols


   'Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and
   Other Pagans in America Today' - 2nd ed. - by Margot Adler. Beacon
   Press trade paperback.

   You may have already heard Margot's voice, as she was once hostess of
   National Public Radio's news program, 'All Things Considered'. This
   book is the end result of five years of research and interviews. (The
   2nd edition is an update published eight years after the original.)
   This landmark study focuses on the rise of the Neo-Pagan movement
   (which includes Witchcraft, of course) especially as it relates to the
   values and beliefs of the counterculture of the mid-60's, hippies,
   flower children, et. al. It is the single most comprehensive study of
   modern American Witchcraft in existence.

   'What Witches Do: The Modern Coven Revealed' - 2nd ed. - by Stewart
   Farrar. Phoenix trade paperback.

   If Adler's book gives a comprehensive overview of modern American
   Witchcraft, Farrar's is a complimentary look at traditional British
   Witchcraft. Concentrating on the Alexandrian tradition (which is only
   marginally different from Gardnerian, easily the largest Craft
   tradition extant), Farrar lays stress on the actual working of Covens
   and the integration of novice Witches into them. Also included is much
   of the Gardnerian (via Alexandrian) Book of Shadows. So there is
   plenty here for someone who wants to begin practice.

   'The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great
   Goddess' by Starhawk (pseud. for Miriam Simos). Harper & Row trade

   This book shifts back to America again, this time with a slight
   emphasis on feminist Witchcraft, arguably the fastest growing branch
   of the Craft. Starhawk is herself High Priestess of two California
   Covens and her book is insightful, genuine, and beautifully poetic.
   This overview also contains specific instructions for Circles, chants,
   spells, invocations, creating rituals and, in short, everything you
   need to get started. And it is a delight to read.

   'Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft' by Raymond Buckland.
   Llewellyn trade paperback.

   British-born Ray Buckland can, with some validity, be considered
   Gerald Gardner's American successor. Not only did he introduce
   Gardnerian Witchcraft to the United States, but he also founded his
   own tradition of the Craft, called Seax (Saxon) Wicca, which has grown
   to worldwide practice. His early books, like 'Witchcraft from the
   Inside', did much to dispel negative stereotypes of Wicca in the 60's.
   And 'The Tree: Complete Book of Saxon Witchcraft' remains one of the
   best published Books of Shadows to date. The present volume has a
   practical orientation, with chapters set up as 'lessons', covering
   every imaginable aspect of modern Wicca. The book is Traditionalist in
   approach, making a nice counterpoint to works by Adler and Starhawk.


   'A Witches' Bible, Compleat' by Janet & Stewart Farrar. Magickal
   Childe trade paperback tandem edition of 'Eight Sabbats for Witches'
   and 'The Witches' Way', respectively, also called 'A Witches' Bible,
   Vol 1 & 2'.

   The first book is an examination of the festival Holidays of the Old
   Religion - the Solstices and Equinoxes and the cross-quarter days -
   together with the rich folk customs associated with them. The second
   book contains the long-awaited remainder of the previously unpublished
   portions of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows. In both of these books,
   the Farrars had the invaluable help of Doreen Valiente, who actually
   wrote parts of the Gardnerian liturgy. The three Farrar books taken
   together form the most complete system of Witchcraft currently
   available. Their more recent book 'The Witches' Goddess' focuses on
   the feminine archetype, and contains a gazetteer of Goddesses that is
   mind-boggling in its thoroughness.

   'Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex, & Politics' and 'Truth or Dare:
   Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery' both by Starhawk.
   Beacon Press trade paperback and Harper & Row hardback, respectively.

   If we have gained new religious insights from Pagan and feminist
   philosophy, how are we to incorporate those insights into our daily
   lives? Starhawk, the author of one of our principal texts, pulls
   together a wide range of materials to answer this question in two
   books as beautifully poetic as her first. Some of these things have
   waited a long time to be said - and they couldn't have been said

   'The White Goddess' by Robert Graves. Farrar, Straus, & Giroux trade

   A rather weighty and yet poetic book, tracing the female deity of
   Witchcraft - Goddess of Birth, Love, and Death; of the New, Full, and
   Old Moon, worshipped under countless titles. Fascinating for the
   advanced student. Know your Celtic mythology (particularly Welsh)
   before you start, though! 

    'Witchcraft Today' and 'The Meaning of Witchcraft' by Gerald B.
   Gardner. Magickal Childe trade paperbacks.

   Gerald Gardner has the distinction of being the first practicing Witch
   to write a book about Witchcraft. He was initiated into one of the
   surviving traditional British Covens, and onto the tattered remnants
   of magic and ritual inherited from them, he grafted elements of
   ceremonial magic. The synthesis that emerged came to be called
   'Gardnerian' Witchcraft, and it became the major cause of the
   Witchcraft revival of the twentieth century. Because Gardner was the
   first to deal with this material in written form, it sometimes seems
   very disorganized, but its historical importance is immense. 

   'An ABC of Witchcraft', 'Natural Magick', and 'Witchcraft for
   Tomorrow' all by Doreen Valiente. Phoenix trade paperbacks.

   British Witch Doreen Valiente is perhaps best known for her work with
   Gerald Gardner in creating the Gardnerian canon of liturgy. However,
   in her own books, she really shines as an amateur folklorist, managing
   to convey a sense of Witchcraft as a folk religion, tied very much to
   the locality, the land, and the oldest strains of folk wisdom and
   nature. Her sense of history and tradition is rich and deep, and she
   often presents fascinating historical tidbits about the Craft. From no
   other author can one gain such a rich sense of heritage.

   'A History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics, & Pagans' by Jeffrey B.
   Russell. Thames and Hudson trade paperback.

   This book represents the approach of a gifted Cornell historian.
   Although Russell doesn't always adequately cover modern sources, he
   has become famous for his ability to integrate a sensible approach to
   the evidence of medieval Witchcraft with an acceptance of modern
   Neo-Pagan Witchcraft.

   'Magical Rites from the Crystal Well' by Ed Fitch. Llewellyn trade

   A book of rites, simple celebrations of land and water, wind and fire.
   Rites of passage, seasonal celebrations, magical workings, healings,
   and many more. Ed Fitch (one of the founders of Pagan Way) is truly in
   his element here. And it is one of the most beautiful books on the
   Craft ever published. The art work alone is worth the price of the

   'A Book of Pagan Rituals' by Herman Slater. Weiser trade paperback.

   Originally published in two volumes as the 'Pagan Way Rituals', this
   extremely beautiful book is just what it says it is: a book of
   rituals. Not authentic Wiccan rituals, but very nearly so, these
   rituals are often used by Covens in the training of neophytes. Like a
   good Catholic missal, the words are printed in 'sense lines' using
   BOLD PRINT (easier to read by candlelight). Anyone who is at least
   part animist or nature-lover is going to cherish this beautiful book.

   'Celtic Heritage' by Alwyn and Brinley Rees. Thames and Hudson trade

   A good deal of modern Witchcraft can be traced to ancient Celtic
   sources. This book, based in comparative religion, mythology, and
   anthropology, gives one a clear picture of the Celtic world-view.
   Drawn mainly from Ireland and Wales, the study focuses on the
   interplay of Light and Darkness, Day and Night, Summer and Winter, and
   all the seasonal myths and rituals that make up the great Celtic
   yearly cycle.


   'The Politics of Women's Spirituality: Essays on the Rise of
   Spiritualist Power Within the Feminist Movement' by Charlene Spretnak.
   Doubleday trade paperback.

   A huge (and, one is tempted to say, the definitive) anthology of
   feminist and Pagan theology. Many familiar authors here: Starhawk,
   Weinstein, Daly, et. al. Subjects range from Amazons to the ethics of
   magic. A real bargain!

   'Sex in History' by Reay Tannahill. Stein & Day trade paperback.

   It has often been said that Witchcraft grew out of an earlier
   'fertility religion' and, although 'fertility' is probably the wrong
   word here, it is undeniable that the history of Witchcraft is
   irrevocably bound up with the history of sexuality. Like Tantrists and
   many others in the East, Witches tend to view sex as sacramental.
   Since this is quite contrary to the prevailing attitudes of our own
   culture, it may be helpful to understand how our culture acquired such
   negative ideas about sex in the first place. Ms. Tannahill's unique
   landmark study will not only answer this question but also indicate
   the many options other cultures throughout history have chosen.

   'When God Was A Woman' by Merlin Stone. Harcourt, Brace, & Jovanovich
   trade paperback.

   At the foundations of the religion of Witchcraft is the religion of
   the Goddess. Ms. Stone's book is an archeological tour-de-force of
   that religion, which is found at the beginnings of virtually every
   known culture (yes, even the Judeo-Christian culture). In this book,
   one learns about the worship of Astarte, Isis, Ishtar, and many
   others. Also recommended is her 'Ancient Mirrors of Womanhood'. Both
   are splendid books!

   'A Different Heaven and Earth' by Sheila D. Collins. Judson Press
   trade paperback.

   By one of the leading feminist theologians of our day, this book asks
   what are the psychological and social implications of worshipping a
   male deity exclusively, while ignoring the feminine principle in
   religion. This is one of the most influential books I've read in the
   last ten years. It changed my way of thinking (for the better) and I
   dare say it will change yours.

   'The Way of Wyrd' by Brian Bates. Harper & Row hardback.

   What Carlos Castaneda did for Native American tradition, this author
   does for ancient Pagan Anglo-Saxon tradition. Subtitled 'The Book of a
   Sorcerer's Apprentice' and based on authentic manuscripts found in the
   British Museum, it is the chronicle of a young Christian monk sent
   into the wilds beyond Mercia in 674 to record the heresies (beliefs)
   of the Pagans. He is lucky to have as his guide the Anglo-Saxon shaman
   Wulf. Throughout this documentary novel, the Christian and Pagan
   beliefs are juxtaposed for a better understanding of both. Not since
   'The Mists of Avalon' has a book accomplished this task so neatly.

   'Positive Magic' - revised edition - by Marion Weinstein. Phoenix
   Publications trade paperback.

   Although a book about how to use magic to change your life could be
   extremely tedious, this one is far from it. While it is true that
   Marion uses a simple and direct style of writing, it is used on such
   difficult and subtle questions as the ethics of magic. She draws upon
   her own experiences to create a book that is truly positive. If I had
   to recommend one book on magic, this would be it!

   'Earth Power' by Scott Cunningham. Llewellyn trade paperback.

   Scott is arguably the strongest of the young writers in the immensely
   popular 'Llewellyn's Practical Magick Series'. This is, in fact, a
   book of spells. Practical, down-to-earth, useful, everyday,
   garden-variety spells. It is the only such book in this bibliography.
   Although I do not recommend a 'cookbook' approach to magic, this book
   will be extremely helpful when used as a guide for creating your own
   spells. Also, Scott concentrates on 'natural' or 'folk' magic, as
   opposed to 'ritual' or 'ceremonial' magic. This is the type of magic
   (involving Sun, Moon, stars, trees, rocks, springs, etc.) that is the
   natural heritage of Witchcraft. An excellent starting-place for the
   novice spell-wright. His many other books, especially 'The Magical
   Household', are all highly recommended.

   'The Medium, the Mystic, and the Physicist' and 'Alternate Realities'
   by Lawrence LeShan. Ballantine paperbacks.

   Dr. LeShan does not deal with magic or Witchcraft per se, but what he
   has to say about the nature of the cosmos is magical indeed. He is an
   experimental psychologist, an Esalen veteran, director of ESP
   research, psychic healing, and other projects. His is a synthesis of
   philosophy, parapsychology, and Einsteinian physics. His other books,
   especially 'How To Meditate' (Bantam paperback), are also of great

   'Seth Speaks' and 'The Seth Material' by Jane Roberts. Bantam

   Yet another startlingly clear (albeit less scientific) look at
   metaphysics. This is probably the cream of the crop of all modern
   mediumistic data: Seth is the communicant, and the late Jane Roberts
   is the medium. The other 'Seth' books are also of value.

   'Psychic Exploration: A Challenge for Science' by Edgar Mitchell,
   edited by John White. Putnam trade paperback.

   This anthology serves as an excellent introduction to the scientific
   field of parapsychology. Each chapter is an extensive review article
   on laboratory work carried out in one particular sub-genre of the
   field: telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis, OOBE's,
   apparitions & hauntings, etc. These excellent articles will bring you
   up-to-date on virtually everything that is currently known about the
   topic in question. Other chapters deal with the history of the
   discipline, social & psychological implications, military
   applications, etc. This book could open the mind of the severest
   skeptic. But at the same time, it could serve as a necessary check on
   those too-credulous souls who have a tendency to 'believe everything'.


   ASTROLOGY: For the absolute beginner, 'Chart Your Own Horoscope' by
   Ursula Lewis. Pinnacle paperback. The find-at-a-glance tables and
   charts are worth their weight in gold. For the more advanced students,
   Michael Meyer's 'A Handbook for the Humanistic Astrologer' is highly
   recommended for its 'humanistic' (a la Dane Rudyar) approach. If you
   want to really learn to do astrology, try 'The Only Way To Learn
   Astrology, Vol I-IV' by March & McEvers. Books by Linda Goodman, Grant
   Lewi, Ronald Davison, and Liz Greene are also recommended.

   TAROT: 'Secrets of the Tarot' by Barbara Walker is the best of the
   newest books on Tarot. You may know Barbara as the author of the
   amazing 'Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets'. Bill Butler's
   'Dictionary of the Tarot' is a wonderful reference book which
   encompasses works by such authors as Case, Crowley, Douglas, Gray,
   Huson, Kaplan, Mathers, Papus, Waite, et. al.

   ESP: Any and all books by J. B. and Louisa Rhine, Gertrude Schmeidler,
   Thelma Moss, Charles Tart, D. Scott Rogo, J. G. Pratt, Raynor Johnson
   and Lawrence LeShan would be highly recommended.

   PALMISTRY: 'The Palmistry Workbook' by N. Altman is clearly the leader
   here. The book actually has hand-prints, not just line drawings!

   GHOSTS: Firstly, I'd recommend 'An Experience of Phantoms' and 'The
   Poltergeist Experience' both by D. Scott Rogo (Penguin paperbacks),
   who is a kind of historian of psychical research. Also, 'The
   Poltergeist' by William Roll, director of the Psychical Research
   Foundation, and this country's leading authority on ghosts. And most
   importantly, 'Conjuring Up Phillip' by Iris M. Owen, the account of a
   group of Canadian researchers who 'created' a ghost! This last title
   is now out of print, but if you can find one in a used book store,
   it's well worth it.

   SURVIVAL: 'At the Hour of Death' by Karlis Osis is exceptional. Books
   by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross are adequate, but not as good. And, if you
   can find it, the out-of-print 'Life Is Forever' by Susy Smith is
   perhaps the best introduction.

   OUT-OF-THE-BODY EXPERIENCES: 'Journeys Out of the Body' and 'Far
   Journeys' both by Robert A. Monroe. The narrative of a much-researched
   psychic, he only one of its kind. Also, 'Astral Projection' by Oliver
   Fox, and any early works by Sylvan Muldoon and Hereward Carrington, if
   you can find them.

   MEDIUMSHIP: Firstly, the 'Seth' books by Jane Roberts, listed above.
   Any and all books by Eileen Garrett. Plus, 'Here, Mr. Splitfoot' by
   Robert Sommerlot, 'Singer in the Shadows' by Irving Litvag, and 'She
   Spoke to the Dead' by Susy Smith.

   CABALISM: Introductory works include 'The Magician: His Training and
   Work' and 'Magick: Its Ritual, Power, and Purpose' both by W. E.
   Butler. Later, works by Dion Fortune and Aleister Crowley (definitely
   not for the novice).


   'The Mists of Avalon' by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Ballantine trade

   This Arthurian fantasy novel, which reached the N.Y. Times best-seller
   list, is truly superlative. It is narrated by Morgan le Fay and so we
   finally understand that strange antipathy that exists between her and
   Arthur. The religious and philosophical conflict between the Old
   Religion and the newer one of Christianity is beautifully portrayed.
   An excellent choice.

   The Prydain Chronicles of Lloyd Alexander, a pentology on Dell
   paperbacks: 'The Book of Three', 'The Black Cauldron', 'The Castle of
   Llyr', 'Taran Wanderer', and 'The High King'.

   These award-winning children's fantasies are based on ancient Welsh
   mythology. Alexander admits that the two authors who most influenced
   him were J. R. R. Tolkien and T. H. White. The books are also the
   basis of the recent animation feature from Disney studios. I'm often
   asked about pagan books to recommend for children. These are them.

   The Deryni Chronicles of Katherine Kurtz: 'Deryni Rising', 'Deryni
   Checkmate', 'High Deryni', 'Camber of Culdi', 'Saint Camber', 'Camber
   the Heretic', 'The Bishop's Heir', 'The King's Justice' and 'The Quest
   for Saint Camber', all Ballantine paperbacks.

   Set in the landscape of ancient Wales, the Deryni are a race with
   magical powers which must fight for its life against a medieval Church
   Militant. Kahterine is someone who knows what magic is all about.

   'The Once and Future King' and 'The Book of Merlyn' both by T. H.
   White. Berkely paperbacks.

   Sparkling books, and my own personal favorites. The final
   crystallization of centuries of Arhturian romance. The books on which
   'Camelot' was based.

   'The Weirdstone of Brisingamen', 'The Moon of Gomrath', 'Elidor', and
   'The Owl Service' by Alan Garner. All Ballantine paperbacks.

   Garner is one of the best British fantasy authors, with a superb sense
   of local 'color' and folklore. The first two (related) titles are in
   the heroic quest mold, the third is a story about the four 'hallows'
   of Arthurian legends, and the fourth is an eerie modern re-creation of
   the fourth branch of the 'Mabinogi'.

   'A Wizard of Earhtsea', 'The Tombs of Atuan', and 'The Farthest Shore'
   by Ursula K. LeGuin. A trilogy on Bantam paperbacks.

   This is the chronicle of a young boy who is an apprentice mage.
   LeGuin, a leading science fiction and fantasy author, has some
   fascinating things to say about the light side and dark side of magic,
   and how they're related. And she says it very well, indeed.

   'Lammas Night' by Katherine Kurtz. Ballantine paperback.

   In this case, the author of the important Deryni fantasies turns her
   attention to a historical setting: England in World War II. There is a
   long-standing tradition that Hitler's thwarted plans for invading
   England owed a certain something to the many Covens throughout Britain
   who combined their efforts to stop him. There is even a hint that the
   Royal Family itself was involved. Ms. Kurtz's historical research is,
   of course, impeccable.

   Document Copyright  1989, 1997 by Mike Nichols 

   This document can be re-published only as long as no information is
   lost or changed, credit is given to the author, and it is provided or
   used without cost to others.

   Other uses of this document must be approved in writing by Mike

   Revised: Saturday, October 11, 1997 c.e. 


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