This is a title with a lot of promise! I fear that promise may be unfulfilled because, as any true bookworm witch knows, its impossible to produce a definitive list when there is such good material to choose from. We are incredibly lucky to be living amongst so many excellent authors in the craft scene – and we have a huge inheritance to choose from too. But that doesn’t help the beginner, the wanderer in the book aisle, the freelance pagan looking to turn a bit traditional.So this is my attempt to pick my current top 10 – the titles I think a beginner to the path, or someone interested in tweaking their path would get a lot out of. These are the books I read for bringing my focus back home.
10. Masks of Misrule – Nigel JacksonI love this book! It is filled with the wild nature of the untamed horned god and the folklore of Britain which surrounds him. Its not the most engaging of written styles, and if Im honest it takes an effort in parts, but its so full of information and nuggets of gold hidden beneath the surface, that you can forgive the style before you even reach the end! Not enough is written about the Male Mysteries – even now – and this remains the top of the pile.
9. Verdant Gnosis: Cultivating the Green Path, Volume 1This little book is a collection of presentations given to the first Verdant Gnosis conference. I have mixed views on the various approaches outlined in the book – which is not a book about witchcraft, but a book about working with plants -but its worth the money for one essay alone, Plant Communication: Two Relatively Simple Approaches by Sean Croke
8. Letting in the Wild Edges – Glennie KindredI love the gentle style of Glennie Kindred and this is one of her most recent offerings. I remember fondly her little hand stitched, handwritten volumes on Tree Ogham, Elements and the like from my early years as a witch. And this book instills an atmosphere that I am always trying to create as a witch, a place – the wile edges – that I am always trying to work.
7. Under the Witching Tree: A Folk Grimoire of Tree Lore and Practicum – Corinne BoyerConnie takes 20 trees and guides us through their magic. I like this book because its not overwhelming. She doesn’t try and cover EVERY tree and plant. She picks the key ones, and helps us to get some depth with each. There is folklore and stories alongside charms and recipes. But whilst this is a topic which has been written about ad nausium she makes it feel fresh and new and wonderful!
6. A Witch’s Mirror – the Art of Making Magic, Levannah MorganA shortish book in a no nonsense style that still manages to be poetic. Its practical, its real, and its simple. Loved it!
5.Walking the Tides Seasonal Magical Rhythms and Lore Nigel G. PearsonA bit of a classic now, but recently re-published by Troy Books. A wonderful book about working with the land in which you live, about opening your eyes, taking noticing and changing with the seasons.
4.HANDS OF APOSTASY Essays on Traditional Witchcraft (Edited by Michael Howard and Daniel Schulke)Not the cheapest of books for a beginner, but this collection of essays is of the highest quality and every one of them is beautifully written and so easy to read. Written by scholars, but scholars who practice. Regardless of your level of experience there is something in here for you!
3.The Wanton Green: Contemporary Pagan Writings on Place (Edited by Gordon McLellan and Susan Cross)This book is all about place, and our relationship with the places we work. Its simple and unpretentious style is enthralling. The pieces are very personal, and I found myself inspired to get out there again, more often, and with my eyes focused on the spaces between.
2.A Cornish Book off Ways – Gemma Gary This is starting to be described as a Modern Classic, and I can see why. Its a solid book and an easy intro to a certain type of traditional witchcraft. It appeals to the modern witch, and importantly to younger people coming to the craft. If you are going to choose one book from her collection it would be this – or perhaps the Black Toad. But you cannot go far wrong with her work.
1. Treading The Mill, Nigel PearsonI wasn’t going to include two books by the same author, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave either out. And this is such a treasure trove of information, that if you can only read one book I say this is the one. Its practical from start to finish – you cannot read the book without needed to do *something*. It covers the basics of almost everything from making tools, to ritual to spirit work, to the nature of the divine. Book a couple of days off work. You might not put it down. And finally – I know its not a book, and I already have 10, but a bonus read has to be the magnificent blog by Sarah Anne Lawless. I know its not British, but Im yet to find an online writer as thought provoking, considered and down right spot on. http://sarahannelawless.com(Disclaimer – how did I manage a top ten list without Deed without a Name, Cunningfolk and Familiar Spirits, Roebuck in the Thicket, anything by Michael Howard, something by Shani Oates. Clearly my list is flawed, but as with anything in witchcraft you have to start somewhere, and the important thing is that you start).