Now that you've decided you want to learn about Wicca, what should you read? After all, there are literally thousands of books on the subject -- some good, others not so much. This list features the thirteen books that every Wiccan should have on their shelves. A few are historical, a few more focus on actual Wiccan practice, but they're all worth reading more than once.
Adler, Margot: Drawing Down the Moon
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, Margot Adler presents an academic work that evaluates modern Pagan religions - including Wicca - and the people who practice them. The work is based on a survey the author took over two decades ago, but the information within is still a worthy read. 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 is entertaining and informative, and it's a bit like reading a really well-done thesis paper.
Buckland, Raymond: Complete Book of Witchcraft
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. This book is a classic, and well worth picking up.
Cunningham, Scott: Wicca - A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner
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. He goes into depth about tools, how and why they are used, ethics, and the concept of god and goddess. 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.
Curott, Phyllis: Witch Crafting
Phyllis Curott is one of those people who makes me glad to be Pagan -- because she's really normal. 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. Whether you're a new student of Wicca, or a veteran, Witch Crafting is worth reading more than once.
Eilers, Dana: Pagans and the Law - Understand Your Rights
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. Eilers is an outspoken woman who has a lot of great advice worth listening to.
Farrar, Janet And Stewart: The Witches' Bible
The first section of this book is Eight Sabbats for Witches. It goes into depth on Sabbat rites, and the meanings behind the holidays are expanded on. While the ceremonies in The Witches' Bible 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, The Witches Way, 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.
Gardner, Gerald: Witchcraft Today
Gerald Gardner is 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. He discusses paganism in Europe, as well as the so-called "witch cult", and goes on to demonstrate how many of history's notable names are connected, one way or another, to what we know today as witchcraft. 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. For its historical value, few things beat this book.
Hutton, Ronald: Triumph of the Moon
Triumph of the Moon is a book about Pagans by a non-Pagan, and 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. In fact, Hutton points out that a good deal of what we consider "ancient" Pagan practice can be attributed to the novelists and romantics of the late Edwardian and early Victorian era. 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.
Morrison, Dorothy: The Craft - A Witch's Book of Shadows
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. Morrison also has written a number of other books, including a companion work to this one.
Russell, Jeffrey: A History of Witchcraft
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.
Serith, Ceisiwr: A Book of Pagan Prayer
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. Chances are that once you've started using this book, it will stay near your altar for years to come.
Starhawk: The Spiral Dance
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. Despite some of the eco-feminist complaints about Starhawk, this book is powerful because it's one of the first of its kind, portraying Woman as Goddess.
Valiente, Doreen: Witchcraft for Tomorrow
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.
Recommended books (Free download):
Marcus Cordey - Magical Theory And Tradition
Aj Drew - A Wiccan Bible
Archmage Bob Andrews - Old Witchcraft Secrets