Witchcraft and Pagan Book Reviews
The following reviews are books on Witchcraft and Paganism. (If you are trying to find a book containing information on Witchcraft and/or Paganism and do not see it here, try the Wicca book reviews page.) Books are listed alphabetically by author's last name.
Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshipers, and Other Pagans in America Today
(Expanded and revised edition) Not a book for the light reader, but definitely worth the reading. A lot of useful information on various parts of Paganism. Well researched and put together. While Adler uses the terms witchcraft and Wicca interchangeably majority of the time, she explains that she is using witchcraft to refer to Wicca, and at no point claims that Wicca is the only form of or religion that uses witchcraft. Touches deeply on Pagan paths that are often misunderstood or are (were) seen in a negative light by fellow Pagans. This book does receive some bad marks on including outdated information. This is because of the fact that the book was put together in the '70s. The revised edition includes end notes on almost every chapter and includes extra information. Even some of the updated parts are outdated now, as the revised edition was published in 1986.
Buckland's Book of Gypsy Magic
For anyone who has tried searching around for information on gypsies, their traditions, superstitions, and forms of magick and been disappointed, this book will bring much needed relief. All in one space, you can grasp the basics of gypsy heritage, lifestyle, and cultural norms. Buckland presents the magick and spells in such a way that you get a feel and understanding for how and why it shaped the way it did for the gypsies. He also paints a clearer picture to explain why non-gypsies hold the negative views they do and the clever and mundane reasons for why they focus on some crafts and divination techniques over others. I personally loved the added touch of superstitions as side-notes throughout. Great for anyone who is curious and knows little to nothing of gypsies and gypsy lore.
Practical Candleburning Rituals
Contains some unethical spells, but some of the others can prove useful if they reach out to you. Buckland claims the unethical spells are included for historic value, but there's no proof - even alleged proof - of dates provided for any of the spells. Provides both "Christian" and "Old Religion" version of each spell, which seems to demonstrate that magick is not tied to any one religion as Buckland explains in the introduction. Does contain some good information specific to the use of candles in magick, although the symbolism of colors seems somewhat outdated.
The tables of correspondences are worth the price and accurate. It is informative and useful to the beginner. There are a few problems, however. The book seems to make the God seem like an assistant of little importance compared to the Goddess (a fault found in number of books, to be fair). The book can sound a little too exacting at times. The history isn't too far off the mark. Although, I don't understand the comment about St. Patrick being responsible for the burning of Pagan documents as it was thanks to the actions of St. Patrick that much of Pagan literature, such as the Greek and Roman tragedies, are available to us today.
Magical Herbalism: The Secret Craft of the Wise
Contains information and ideas for the magickal uses of herbs. Easy to read and great for learning to begin incorporating herbs into magick. It lists examples for spell ideas using herbs for a variety of uses (love, protection, success, etc.). Also includes ideas for oils, incense, and your own magickal herb garden.
Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs
(Sequel to Magical Herbalism.) A good read and nice resource. Includes detailed information on a large variety of herbs, including other names, associations, folklore, and magickal uses. There are pictures (not photographs) for almost every herb listed. It focuses more on the magickal use of herbs than the medicinal uses (as Cunningham states in this book, there are already plenty of great, informative books with that focus). Has a very useful cross-reference index.
A wonderful book that provides information and techniques to getting in touch with and performing magick through nature. This book presents natural magick in a light so that anyone of any faith can utilize it. It's easy to read and provides a number of spells for one to use.
Earth, Air, Fire & Water
(Sequel to Earth Power.) A wonderful book that provides techniques to performing magick through natural resources. It's easy to read and provides even more spells for one to use. Also includes a wonderful chapter regarding how to write your own spells.
The Magical Household: Empower Your Home with Love, Protection, Health and Happiness
Scott Cunningham & David Harrington
Over years of research by both men and through Scott's easy-to-read writing-style, Cunningham and Harrington provide a plethora of cultural practices and rituals (some of which were clearly superstitious in nature) revolving around the home and everything in and surrounding it. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of the home, from the doors and windows to garages, from pets to gardens, and from protection to family altars. You'll learn the basic symbolism of the home in relation to the spiritual side of things (such as doors/thresholds being connected to the spirit world or the hearth as the center of the home) as well as various tips, tricks, and old practices of increasing health, prosperity, and happiness in the home. Not restricted to any one faith, anyone can enjoy reading through this one whether just to learn or to apply some of the practices described.
The Witches' Book of the Dead
A delightful read. Day does his research and provides plenty of historical information throughout the book. Also throughout, you'll find his uplifting sense of humor, something much needed when discussing the serious topic of communication and work with the spirits of the dead. The book starts off with some basic information to serve as a sweet and simple introduction into the material before getting into the heart of the subject.
The exercises prove to be valuable to the natural medium in search of information for what is going on and how to get started with their gifts. There are also great examples and suggestions for ways to honor the dead in daily life as well as during special occasions such as Samhain. Definitely worth reading for any Witch, regardless of whether or not necromancy is an intended specialty.
Sacred Paths for Modern Men: A Wake Up Call from Your 12 Archetypes
Although short and to the point, Sacred Paths for Modern Men has instantly moved Dewr to my favorite writers list. Great sense of humor, a little (okay, maybe a lot) nerdy, and completely honest. The book includes information on 12 male archetypes, provides practices and rituals, and serves as a potential guideline for starting what I would call a men's mystery group aimed toward reclaiming individual and group male power. As a woman, I cannot say how deeply this book will help men, but I have benefited greatly. I found this book hidden among others of much larger size at a time when I was suffocating under the pressures of a raging animus. Dewr's humor and easy-reading style helped me to embrace the masculine side of myself without threatening the feminine. This book will remain an inspiration for me for years to come!
Practical Protection Magick: Guarding & Reclaiming Your Power
Great book on a neglected topic! In the way that prevention is key for our physical health, protection is key to our magickal, spiritual, and emotional health. Learn to protect yourself magickally through your personal psychic strengths and weaknesses and from emotional and psychic vampires. Includes an entire chapter devoted to physical health and exercise and the role it plays in magick. Provides information on warding, protective objects, different types of protection magick, and spells and rituals to deal with negativity that's found its way in. Great for any witch, magickal practitioner, and those who are sensitive to energy.
This book provides mostly correspondences and ritual ideas. Contains a few of her poems, which are rather good. And, of course, it offers several rituals/spells and days of importance throughout the year.
I was scared to buy this book at first thinking it was just some of the usual hype. However, while at the book store, it was recommended by a gentleman who said two women in his life were very moved by it and that it is truly something all women ought to read. This book is absolutely wonderful for women. It discusses media, cultural, and personal effects on women and how it all consequently affects our treatment of our bodies.
Through seeking knowledge, self-reflection, activities, and ritual, LaSara helps us open up to ourselves and our bodies. Once we learn to accept and love our bodies (and take care of it properly), we knock down the very real barriers that keep us from being the truly spiritual beings that we are. LaSara teaches us to be comfortable with our bodies. They are sexual and we should know everything about our womanly parts and how they function. As you progress through the book, you can clearly see how the physical world and spiritual can come together. I only hope there's a man out there courageous enough to write a Sexy Witch for men.
The Druid Magic Handbook
John Michael Greer
I wasn't sure how much this book would have to offer for Wiccans. However, I personally enjoy learning about different paths and approaches and couldn't resist. After reading it, I would recommend this book to any practitioner of magick. While the Druid ritual format differs greatly from that in Wicca, it is worth the study if only for the knowledge of other methods. However, the first Part of this book is the big kicker. While meant to pertain to Druids specifically, this entire section provides information and ideas that can be valuable to anyone on a magickal path, even if only as food for thought. This is definitely a book for anyone with an interest in magick to take a look at!
The Witch's Familiar
This book is very unethical in my most honest opinion. It starts out nicely, but by Chapter 2, it drastically goes downhill. Implies that non-physical, spiritual familiars should be treated as mere tools and should be locked away like dangerous criminals when not in use. Also uses the Witchcraft Trials from the Burning Times to explain a lot of material (considering most information from those days is made up, why would he use it?). I haven't read any of Grimassi's other books, but I wouldn't recommend this one. (Grimassi follows the Stregga path more-so than the Wicca path. Difference in perspective may account for my negative review of this book.)
The Wicca Handbook
While this book is called the "Wicca" handbook, I think it would be better off called something else. There is information on Wicca in the beginning, but it seems mostly geared toward magick. In a handbook for Wicca, some of the spells contained within seem pointless. Holland should have saved them for a spellbook instead of putting them here.
On a personal level, I had trouble taking things seriously after pg 63 where there is an invocation that starts, "Coventina, Mother of Covens..." My matron has been Coventina for several years. She is a little known Celtic deity. She has a well perhaps believed to contain healing waters and may have a connection with water nymphs. There is absolutely nothing that links her to covens. Also, on pg 60 the cutting of hair lessening a witch's power is ridiculous. Perhaps it was superstition somewhere, but it is not something believed in Wicca. We cut our hair to keep it healthy like everybody else. If Holland felt such a strong need to include this piece of superstition in her book, perhaps placing it somewhere pertinent would have worked. (It's found in a paragraph about the power of the Moon that has nothing to do with hair.)
However, I would not call this book a total waste. There is a lot of information covered in this book and plenty of correspondences for study. I personally enjoyed the Egyptian tidbits that give a more spiritual look at things I studied years ago on the culture of ancient Egyptians. Again, this book would be much better suited to a wider audience and under a different title.
Witch: A Magickal Journey
This book can be useful to both the beginner and experienced. Full of interesting ideas and information, it's worth a read. While a chapter or two may be controversial for younger audiences, it's presented in a professional and mature sense (with a touch of humor as well).
Magic When You Need It: 150 Spells You Can't Live Without
I was a little worried about this book when I leafed through the contents page (I also laughed at some of the names of the spells). From a Wiccan standpoint, many of these spells are unethical and useless to a Wicca's arsenal. However, Illes is a spell collector (among other things) and as such never claims that these are Wiccan. They are simply the spells she has gathered and is now sharing. If nothing else, it's worth taking a look at.
The "lessons" are set up by the timing of the moon. Personally I found this to be the most beneficial way to the follow the book. As far as the story behind the information goes, no matter your take on it (and trust me, as a metaphysical-friendly psych major, romantic, witch, and skeptic, I have plenty of my own!), the important thing is that the author is sincere in her intentions.
I enjoyed the layout of the lessons and the exercises are practical and effective. For the seasoned witch, the wording may seem patronizing at first as James' intended audience is those who have little to no experience with what she dubs "the Source." Despite this, the journey presented in this book may prove useful to even the most seasoned of witches. Based on improvements I am continuing to experience in my life as a result of the lessons from this book, I can say for a fact that you get out what you put into it. A wonderful book for all!
A Witch Like Me
A very interesting book. Gets you into the minds of some of Wicca and Witchcraft's most popular authors. There's not really much else to say about it. It's kind of a like "Chicken Soup" book geared specifically toward authors who are Witches.
The Witch's Bag of Tricks: Personalize Your Magick & Kickstart Your Craft
An awesome read! If you've ever run into (or are currently in) that slump where your craft has somehow become too routine, too mundane, or too uninspiring, possibly even to the point of questioning why you practice Witchcraft at all, you need to pick up this book now! In the beginning of the book, Marquis will help you understand why you are feeling as you are, help you remember what drew your to your practice in the first place, help you identify the obstacles holding you back, and give you a nudge in pursuing what makes your magickal style yours. She, then, will take you through several chapters of breaking down magick and different skills sets to better understand them, improve them, and uncover your magickal strengths. Not only will this book help you find you sense of purpose in your magick again, it will also help you come out stronger than you were before.
The Mighty Dead
At a time when books about the dead, ghosts, spirit communication, and necromancy seems to be increasing in popularity again, it's always refreshing to see a Witchcraft-oriented approach that takes away the fluff, over-simplification, and dramatization so common among more mainstream metaphysical circles.
This is not one of Penczak's easier to read through books. He covers a wealth of in-depth information while attempting to keep it short and simple. As a result, the information is a lot to take in. This book will get you started working with the Mighty Dead and ancestors and then serve as a sort of reference book from then on. I definitely recommend it!
A funny thing happened as I read this book (over the course of two years!). Every time I read a little, something came up and I'd either go off exploring other faiths with common influences or pick up other books. Now I frequently get distracted and read multiple books at once, but this was noticeably different. It's always tied to this book somehow; either something read earlier on or yet to read. I'm curious now if others had the same experience. Is it an individual path thing? Or has Penczak weaved a little magick into these pages?
Morgan Le Fay's Book of Spells and Wiccan Rites
No, this book isn't claiming to be an actual spell book from Morgan Le Fay. Instead, all the rituals by the author are supposedly inspired by the Arthurian Legend figure. I bought this book for the beauty of the rituals. No other reason. The first chapter of history is useless. Considering her sources, it makes sense, as they all were written during the time when people still believed the mythological version of Wicca's history. For this, shame on the author for producing a book in 2001 with theories that were long before proven false.
Also, there's no need for these rites to be called Wiccan as they are not Wicca specific (back cover even says, "so that any reader may use them immediately, even without prior Wiccan experience."). All rituals are directed towards at least one specific deity without any info on the deity. Personally, I think it's worse to call upon a specific deity one is not familiar with than to keep it to your own personal deities. As such, I would recommend "any reader" that will "use them immediately" to do research and study the God/Goddess in question beforehand. Again, I recommend this book solely based on the beauty of the rites.
Secrets of Magical Seals
I picked this one up in the hopes of finding some inspiration for sigils. Instead, I found myself giggling quite a lot with this book. It's super short, primarily meant to be a quick reference of various images that can be used in magick. Anna doesn't even blink at explaining the "black magic" uses (this book was first published when categorizing paths, styles, and intents as "white" vs. "black" was the norm). Yet, even after giving you a great breakdown of all the negative-intention ways you can use a particular seal or set of seals, she does encourage the use of "white magic" only. Most of the images didn't speak to me personally and many were far too complex for incorporation into an individually-made sigil, but I suppose the book would be useful to others, perhaps those more into ceremonial or other paths that make use of seals on the regular.
The Witch's Journey: Cutting the Cords of Christian Dogma
This is an absolute must-read. I can't say that enough. The overall message of questioning, compassion, education, and being true to who you are while respecting others no matter where they are in their path is a much needed voice in our day and age.
I loved reading The Witch's Journey. It was a bit of shocker for me to realize I still had processing to do. Elaanie opens her heart and shares her past with us. Her struggles, fears, confusion, happiness, and pain. All of it is familiar ground. And her "no BS" approach to breaking down the questions and accepting the answers even though they went against everything she had been taught and knew (and were definitely not popular to know) is perfect. But she doesn't just present this material as "Here's what I found. Now believe what I've told you." She merely provides a concise glimpse into what she found and invites you to go beyond her words to see for yourself.
This book serves as a piece of storytelling to help us connect, a call for critical thinking and the need to evaluate our needs and examine our personal beliefs, and a quick reference for basic (but common) beliefs of Christians and Witches. She touches on "hot button" items as well as commonly asked questions and areas of struggle. Witch, Pagan, Christian, or anyone else of any or no religion living in a predominately Christian-based culture will benefit greatly from reading this book.
A fantastic book with wonderful tips and advice to get the clutter out of your home and life. Whitehurst provides a wide variety of techniques to get you started on finding your way to clear the clutter, cleanse the energy, rearrange for specific intents, and keep it all clean, clutter-free, healthy, and prosperous! She discusses several tools and allies to utilize along the way.
© 2004-2019 by Evylyn Rose