A Reading List for the Traditional Witch:
For a few years I've been meaning to finally get my reading list typed out, and I figure as the Old Hag settles her icy bottom down for a spell, I might as well. Here is the master list, many I've read, most are on my to do list. Please feel free to suggest any additions, for this is by no means a complete list. Check back! I add frequently.
The Foundational Texts:
Aradia or the Gospel of the Witches of Italy - Charles G. Leland
The Secret Commonwealth: An Essay on the Nature and Actions of the Subterranean (and for the Most Part) Invisible People, Heretofore Going Under the Name of Elves, Fauns, and Fairies - Robert Kirk
The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries - W.Y. Evans-Wentz
The Golden Bough - James George Frazer
The Greater Key of Solomon - Samuel L. Macgregor Mathers
The Complete Art of Witchcraft: Penetrating the Secrets of White Magic - Sybil Leek
Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition- Cora Anderson
High Magic’s Aid - Gerald Gardner
Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks & Covens - Paul Huson
Natural Magic - Doreen Valiente
Rebirth of Witchcraft - Doreen Valiente
Witchcraft for Tomorrow - Doreen Valiente
Witchcraft: a Tradition Renewed - Doreen Valiente and Evan John Jones
The Writings of Roy Bowers - (Robert Cochrane)
Apocalyptic Witchcraft - Peter Grey
The Roebuck in the Thicket - Evan John Jones & Robert Cochrane, editor Mike Howard
The Robert Cochrane Letters: An Insight into Modern Traditional Witchcraft - Robert Cochrane and Evan John Jones
The Forge of Tubal Cain - Ann Finnin
The Pillars of Tubal Cain - Nigel Aldcroft Jackson & Michael HowardLiber Nox: A Traditional Witch's Gramarye - Michael Howard
Call of the Horned Piper - Nigel Aldcroft Jackson
Masks of Misrule - Nigel Jackson
Grimore for Modern Cunning Folk - Peter Paddon
Letters from the Devil's Forest - Robin Artisson
The Witching Way of Hollow Hill - Robin Artisson
The Horn of Evenwood - Robin Artisson
Azoetia: Grimoire of the Sabbatic Craft - Andrew D. Chumbley
Opuscula Magica. Volume I: Essays on Witchcraft and the Sabbatic Tradition - Andrew D. Chumbley and Daniel A. Schulke
The Devil's Dozen-Thirteen Craft Rites of The Old One - Gemma Gary
Cecil Williamson's Book of Witchcraft-A Grimoire of the Museum of Witchcraft - Steve Patterson
Serpent Songs - Editor: Nicholaj de Mattos Frisvold
Specific Cultural Traditions:
Balkan Traditional Witchcraft - Radomir Ristic
Practical Magic in the Northern Tradition - Nigel Pennick
Irish Witchcraft and Demonology - St. John D. Seymour
The Devil's Plantation: East Anglian Lore, Witchcraft & Folk-Magic- Nigel Pearson
Traditional Witchcraft a Cornish Book of Ways - Gemma Gary
The Black Toad - Gemma Gary
Wheel of the Year - Pauline Campanelli
Witches All - Elizabeth Pepper
Irish Witchcraft from an Irish Witch - Lora O'Brien
Magical Ritual Methods - William G. Gray
Seasonal Occult Rituals - William G. Gray
Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath - Carlo Ginzburg and Raymond Rosenthal
The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth - Robert Graves
The History of the Devil: The Horned God of the West - R. Lowe Thompson
Witchcraft and Society in England and America, 1550-1750 - Marion Gibson
Cunning-Folk & Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic - Emma Wilby
Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England - Alan MacFarlane
Singing With Blackbirds: The Survival of Primal Celtic Shamanism in Later Folk -Traditions by Stuart A. Harris Logan
The Pattern Under the Plough - George Ewart Evans. Faber and Faber.
The Secret Teachings of All Ages - Manly P. Hall.
Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy - Mircea Eliade
Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History - Alan Charles Kors and Edward Peters
Shamans Sorcerers and Saints: A Prehistory of Religion - Brian Hayden
Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe - H.R. Ellis Davidson
The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy - Ronald Hutton
Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History - Owen Davies
The Know How:
Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews - Scott Cunningham
Hoodoo, Herb and Root Magic - cat yronwode
Practical Candleburning Rituals: Spells and Rituals for Every Purpose - Raymond BucklandMagic and Husbandry- The Folk-Lore Of Agriculture; Rites, Ceremonies, Customs, And Beliefs Connected With Pastoral Life And The Cultivation Of The Soil; With Breeding And The Care Of Cattle; With Fruit-Growing, Bees, And Fowls – Lewis Dayton Burdick
Wortcunning: For Info on plants see my other site, it's literally a giant bibliography.
Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants - Claudia Müller-Ebeling, Christian Rätsch, and Wolf-Dieter Storl
Pharmako Trilogy - Dale Pendell
Magical Herbalism by Scott Cunningham
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
The Herb Book by John Lust
Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual by James Green
Magical and Ritual Use of Herbs - Richard Alan Miller
Blackberry Cove Herbal: Healing With Common Herbs in the Appalachian Wise-Woman Tradition -Linda Ours Rago
Leechcraft: Early English Charms, Plant-lore and Healing - Stephen Pollington
Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers - Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English
A Dictionary of English Folklore - Jacqueline Simpson and Steve Roud
Make Merry In Step and Song: A Seasonal Treasury of Music, Mummer's Plays & Celebrations in the English Folk Tradition - Bronwen Forbes
I think that being a witch is synonymous with bibliophilia. I don't know many who identify as such and do not have a robust, if not excessive, collection of books on the subject. I myself am definitely guilty of this. As I learn more and delve deeper into the realms of traditional witchcraft, rewilding, homesteading and herbalism, I discover certain authors that feel like new friends, or even mentors.
I recently finished Gemma Gary's, "Traditional Witchcraft: A Cornish Book of Ways." To say I read it quickly would be a lie, for when I read books of this nature I take careful notes as I go to add to my own black book. I found her book not only beautifully written in Gemma's careful poetic style, but also incredibly useful. Her views and interpretation of the Cornish, or Pellar's Craft, is not for the blind beginner in the world of witchcraft, but it is not so haughtily filled with allusions and jargon as to be indecipherable to a Traditional Witchcraft neophyte with some other foundational literature behind them.
The breakdown of the book is as follows on the Troy Books website where you can purchase most of Gemma's work:
"Traditional Witchcraft - A Cornish Book of Ways is a 21st century version of traditional Cornish witchcraft, of the kind recorded by Hunt, Bottrell and others. This is no neo-pagan or modern wiccan manual, but rather a deep drawing up into modern times of some of the ancient practices of lore and magic practiced by the white witches, charmers, conjurers and pellars of the Cornish villages. Their presence was still current when the 18th and 19th century antiquarians and collectors recorded them, and, although the 20th century largely put paid to their activities, nevertheless their lore never completely disappeared, and it continues to provide inspiration for practitioners today. Gemma draws on this knowledge, not only from published material, but also from the experiences and workings of ‘wise women’ and country witches living today.
Topics include the Cunning Path, the Dead and the Underworld (Fairy Faith), the Bucca, Places of Power in the villages and landscape, the Tools used by Cunning Folk (working versions of what can be seen, for example, in the Museum of Witchcraft), Village cunning, substances and charms, and Rites of the Year’s Round. This book gathers much material together, some of which has not been seen in print before, and thus provides a sourcebook of magical workings in Cornwall today, which will be an invaluable reference."
Cheryl Straffon - Meyn Mamvro
Her illustrations are a real treat; the black and white stippled images are not outrageous, and they are refreshingly appropriate to the mood of the text, furthering the feeling of holding an truly timeless tome in ones hands. Her art adds to her Arte, to the magic of the experience of reading her work. If you are unfamiliar with her books, this is by no means her only publication, please visit her website for the complete list. I am awaiting the arrival of newest book, "The Devil's Dozen," and have heard only praise from my compatriots who have purchased it. I also have her book, "The Black Toad," which I highly recommend.
I don't often write book review type pieces, but I am so struck by what Gemma does, I felt compelled to share about it. It isn't just the fact that she makes available so generously all the hard work she has put in to researching and learning this branch of the Craft, but that she is creating magical objects, filled with art and a power all their own, for her community. Her humble attitude and gentle shyness that permeate her interviews further make her an admirable artist, and someone I am thankful for as a voice in for Traditional Craft.
Though I've never met her, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for her hefty contributions to the written body of magical texts that avoid some of the things I find challenging about other works. She does not lay claim to ancient unbroken lines, secret initiations or place herself upon a pedestal to gaze down at the rest of us. She is truly a folk figure. A person who creates accessibility in her tone and in the ways in which she presents herself. Honestly, even her private nature endears her to me. Gemma Gary is someone I personally am moved by and someone who inspires me to create. To create things that are useful, beautiful and, most of all, accessible.
To hear more about her books, see the videos below from the very lovely "On the Black Chair," interview series that Karagan Griffith puts together. It's certainly worth it.
To support me in my research and work, please consider donating. Every dollar helps!