According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of witchcraft is as follows:
1 a: the use of sorcery or magic
b: communication with the devil or with a familiar
2: an irresistible influence or fascination
While that definition is very tidy and straightforward, the reality in today’s world is messier and more complicated. There are so many ways to practice witchcraft – whether you’re binding a rapist, casting a spell to help with a job search, or just honoring a goddess – that there are hundreds of books on the subject. In fact, this seems to be a Golden Age of /Occult/Neo-Pagan/New Age publishing. Therefore, any list of best witchcraft books for beginners, people who are just starting out on their witchcraft journey will be incomplete. Luckily, most if not all witchcraft books reference other works in their texts and have bibliographies for those seeking to delve deeper.
Best witchcraft books for beginners list
The following list has been created with 21st century sensibilities in mind, and with care to ensure that everything on it is still in print and easily available.
Drawing Down The Moon by Margot Adler
Yes, this book is a tome, but it’s absolutely essential to understanding the Neo-Pagan movement as a whole and dispelling a lot of ugly stereotypes. It’s also an excellent overview of what’s out there in terms of practices.
Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson
This is the classic nitty-gritty how-to book on witchcraft without making a religion of it. It’s all here – working tools, Theban script, evocative lore, spell casting, and instructions on how to form a coven. Some of the terminology in the book reflects the fact that it was written in the 1970s. Nevertheless, it has been and remains extremely influential and useful.
The Prediction Book of Practical Magic by Michael Howard
This little book, though no longer in print, can still be found in online bookstores and online libraries. Its approach is less elaborate than Mastering Witchcraft when it comes to things like inscribing magical tools, but it gives an excellent introduction to Astral, Natural, Moon, Elemental, and Planetary Magic.
Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart
Although written with young people the age of 11-18 in mind, this book is incredibly useful for adults as well. It’s constructed as a course of study, yet written in a friendly, engaging style. There’s a lot of information here, from history and lore, to alchemy, cosmology, and everything in between.
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham
For those who want something less rigorous, more freeform, and who want to incorporate religion – specifically nature-oriented polytheism – into their practice, this book is a great place to learn both the basics of the Wiccan religion, and a gentle approach to magic.
To Ride A Silver Broomstick: New Generation Witchcraft by Silver RavenWolf
This book combines the gentleness of Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner with some of the more intense sections of Mastering Witchcraft and The Prediction Book of Practical Magic, then adds a generous helping of humor and straight talk. One helpful feature is that there’s a focused bibliography at the end of most chapters, rather than all at the end of the book; this is particularly useful for those who want to learn more about an aspect of the chapter right away.
The Path of Paganism: An Experience-Based Guide to Modern Pagan Practice by John Beckett
Why is a book by a druid on a witchcraft book list? Because this book is an outstanding introduction to modern Paganism. Many, if not most, Pagans are refugees from Christianity, and the author himself is no exception, having been brought up as an evangelical Protestant. He writes about his past, and it’s obvious that he respects and learns from others on different Pagan paths than his own. The chapter on magic is sensible and down to earth, yet uplifting at the same time. The entire book is delightfully thoughtful.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but any of these books will give a beginning witch an excellent start!