Are you wondering what are the best books to read as a beginner in Wicca? You’re not alone. The first question people tend to ask when starting out their Wiccan practice is where to turn to for information. It’s a reasonable question. There’s a lot of garbage out there, both on the Internet and in print, and books aren’t cheap. So first, I’m going to address what NOT to read (including on the internet and including videos) and then I’ll give my personal booklist. A caveat: I am a solitary practitioner, so my booklist is going to be targeted in that direction. I just simply don’t have the reading background in coven-based books.
Let’s start with books. Out of the first twenty books when you type in the word “Wicca” on Amazon, spell books and fluffy self-help books are mixed in with good solid info sources about Wicca. But how to tell the difference if you’re a new witch and you don’t know one author from another? A good first clue is the titles. A new Wiccan, especially, does not need a whole book of spells. Most beginner books contain at least some spells and that’s a good start. The best spells are ones you write yourself anyways. I have not seen any spells in these “Essential Spells” and “Complete Spells” books that you could not find for free on Pinterest or just by some browsing on a search engine.
Another clue is if they’re unduly focused on pumping your ego up or emphasizing more ‘natural’ gifts. There’s a time and a place for that, but not when you’re looking for an introduction to what Wicca- a religion, not a state of mind, not something that ‘resides in everyone’- is. Titles that refer to self-care, psychic abilities, “what kind of witch are you”, or “the power of the witch in every woman” are not going to tell you much, if anything, about Wicca, not to mention the fact that many of these books are not at all helpful for you if you’re male or non-binary! Wicca and witchcraft are not necessary synonymous. You will learn about witchcraft by learning about Wicca, because part of Wicca is the practice of witchcraft (although, in theory, you don’t have to practice witchcraft to be Wiccan), but you will not necessarily learn about Wicca by reading about witchcraft. One is a practice, a craft, the other is a religion. There are secular witches.
As for the internet, a lot of the same rules apply. You cannot address the nuances of Wicca- you can not even really hit the basics- in the length of a TikTok video. If you want to look at pretty pictures of altars to get ideas, or you want to hear some Wiccan music, TikTok may be great for that. Any more than that, though, and you are likely going to get exposed to highly inaccurate info. The same cautions apply to YouTube, although in a lesser way. If you want to learn about Wicca, make sure the video is actually about Wicca, not witchcraft or paganism in general. This is harder than you might think it would be. Most videos that come up when you search for videos on Wicca fall into the latter category. And there is a lot of…not negativity, necessarily, but not supportive…attitudes towards Wicca among some of the more popular YouTubers. Many are pagans or traditional witches who started out as Wiccans and decided it wasn’t their path. You get the impression, especially from reading their comment sections, that Wicca is the fluffy, “baby witch” (another term you should definitely avoid. A witch is a witch. Period.) place to start, but as you mature, then you move on to the “real stuff”. And that’s just not the case. Often this seems to be based on a few things: the Wiccan Rede of ‘harm none’, difficulty with believing in the deities, or wanting to practice a more ancient form of paganism (known as reconstructionism). Either way, if you want to learn about paganism or witchcraft, that’s fine. If you want to learn about Wicca, make sure the video is actually about Wicca. Make sure it isn’t done by a Christian (hate to have to say it, but there you go). Don’t assume it’s correct because it’s done by a pretty woman in front of a gorgeous altar, and don’t assume it’s going to be boring because it’s an older adult in front of a couple of candles.
Ok, now to my recommended reading list. This is just my opinion, the books I have found most helpful and the most accurate. I’m also not including any fiction here, even though I think there is fiction that is completely helpful for any Wiccan to read. This list is focusing on “I want to learn about Wicca, where do I go?” and a couple of extras.
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham
Probably the most recommended introductory book in the world of Wicca, this book is highly accessible, highly understandable, accurate, and is written by one of the pioneers in Wiccan spirituality. He played a large part in making Wicca accessible to people who did not have access to covens or preferred to work alone. What I like best about this book is that it remembers that Wicca is first and foremost a religion. His respect for and love for the God and Goddess comes through in his writing and he tries to impart that to the reader as well. A Wiccan who is more agnostic might not like that about the book but there is still excellent information in there. He also has some exercises for learning how to ground, center and work with energy- all necessary components of working magick. All the basics of Wiccan ritual are in this book.
Also by Scott Cunningham that I recommend: Living Wicca: A Further Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. The sequel to this book, it is still understandable for beginners and yet has good info in there for people who have gained some familiarity with Wicca.
Wicca for Beginners by Thea Sabin
Pretty much equal to the above book in my opinion, this book provides an absolutely excellent foundation in how to practice Wicca. Grounding and centering, energy work, visualization, meditation, casting a circle, and more are all covered in this book, as well as the typical Wicca 101 basics. She also shows a great deal of respect for Wicca as a religion and addresses the different views Wiccans have of who the God and the Goddess are. She does not include spells in her book but goes into a great deal of detail about how to write your own spells to where a beginner should feel confident after reading that chapter that s/he can write their own spell. The exercises alone are worth reading the book, and there is a great deal more in here than just that.
Witch Crafting: A Spiritual Guide to Making Magic by Phyllis Curott
I really enjoy Phyllis Curott’s writing. I think she hits, possibly better than any other author I’ve read, the essence of what Wicca is about, at least to me. That’s not to say I agree with everything she writes, but her emphasis on the spirituality of Wicca is something I think is missing in some of the material I’ve read about Wicca. This book has good exercises, too- she covers the basic exercises you need to start practicing magick as well as other exercises to commune with the God and the Goddess, and it has a lot of the Wicca 101 basics, but it’s more of a “why” book. It’ll probably make more sense when read in conjunction with or after one of the two books above. One thing I love about this book is that she comes at it with the premises that magick is not this neutral force like electricity that you can just plug into and then do whatever you want with, but that the energy and the power behind magick come from the Divine and is therefore sacred, and that- not just the Wiccan Rede- is why you ‘harm none’ with your magick. This, I have found, is for some reason, a pretty controversial view, but it’s one I happen to agree with.
Also by Phyllis Curott that I recommend: Book of Shadows: A Modern Woman’s Journey into the Wisdom of Witchcraft and the Magic of the Goddess . I’m not big on memoirs, because they tend to feel like romanticized and idealized versions of other peoples’ experiences, and I’d rather read the facts about something than read about someone’s experience of it. This book captivated me anyway. This was one of the first books on Wicca I stumbled across in a used book store, and it explained the call from the Goddess I had been feeling. It captures the beauty and spirituality of Wicca very well, even if it is a little strong in its views toward men.
The Wicca Bible by Ann-Marie Gallagher
There’s a lot packed in this book. It covers all the typical Wicca 101 stuff and some extras, like Wiccan rites of passage (handfastings, etc.), divination, chakras, and much more. It’s got lots of great exercises (sensing a theme here? A good intro book on Wicca shouldn’t rush to get you to casting spells, but should teach you basic tools of Wicca like grounding and centering, energy work, meditation, visualization, and more. If you don’t know what those have to do with casting a spell you may not be ready to cast one). There is a lot of great pictures too for visual learners, and it covers more coven-oriented information than the first two books listed did. It has some spells in it and it even has some recipes in it. A very good investment for your library.
Wicca for One: The Path of Solitary Witchcraft by Raymond Buckland
Written by a man often called the “father of American Wicca”, this is a very good 101 book for the solitary practitioner. It lacks the exercises of the other books, and it is very much a book that just covers the basics, but it does a very good job of that. A good supplementary read, especially if you decide to tackle Raymond Buckland’s most famous book “Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft“, which does have a lot of what this book is missing but is a much more dry read.
The Circle Within: Creating a Wiccan Spiritual Tradition by Dianne Sylvan.
I highly recommend this book. It’s not a Wiccan 101 book in the sense that it doesn’t talk about the basics of Wicca, what we believe, how to cast a circle, etc. It is an every-level book, however, because she talks about something I haven’t read in many other books- how to have a relationship with the God and the Goddess, and how to have a daily devotional practice. She has excellent ideas on how to do this, and she includes a section with various prayers, practices, etc. If you want to know how to deepen your spiritual practices, or you’re feeling disconnected from your path as a Wiccan and you want to know how to get it going again, this is the book for you.
Solitary Wicca for Life by Arin Murphy-Hiscock
This is NOT a Wicca 101 book. It assumes a familiarity with Wiccan ritual, magick, and theology. This is refreshing for many readers. But it has the format of a good 101 book- the exercises, the explanations as to why to go above and beyond what you are probably used to doing. The author is very good at giving very detailed explanations without sounding condescending, and she really challenges you to move above and beyond the ‘same old, same old’. I highly recommend it for those who have read and practiced Wicca 101 for a while now and want more.
I haven’t read this book, but some people whose opinion I take seriously have recommended this book:
This is a book about traditional, coven-focused Wicca, initiatory-based Wicca, something I do not know as much about as I would like to. This book is endorsed by some big names (like Raymond Buckland), and from the excerpts I read and the reviews on Amazon, she doesn’t seem to bash solitary practitioners. A good book if you want to learn more about the kind of Wicca that is coven and initiatory based.
The Elements of Ritual: Air, Fire, Water and Earth in the Wiccan Circle by Deborah Lipp
Also not a 101 book; if you’re looking to deepen your knowledge of the elements and of Wiccan ritual, particularly circle casting and ritual structure and how the elements fit into those, this is the book for you. I learned so much from this book that I didn’t even realize I didn’t know. It is coven-focused. Definitely adaptable for solitaries- I didn’t have any problem applying it to my own circumstances- but she does spend some time on specific coven concerns. If you have got into a mechanical routine with your circle casting and elemental work, this is a wonderful book to get you out of that.
Also recommended to read:
The Spiral Dance by Starhawk: A historic book that introduced Goddess worship and witchcraft to a widespread audience. Somewhat dated, but definitely worth the read. Not about Wicca per se.
Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler: Another historic book; this work covers the neo-pagan movement in America and was updated relatively recently. If you’re interested in learning about other forms of neo-paganism, this is the book for you.
The Inner Temple of Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak: This book would have ranked higher for me, as it excels in teaching everything you might possibly want to know about how to practice witchcraft (it is not a book specifically focused on Wicca, but you would still get an excellent magickal education with this book) but for a couple of problems. The exercises are SO detailed you almost really do have to purchase the companion CD (would love to see it move to companion mp3!) to use them- I don’t think the average person could read the exercises and go do them and not forget details. That may or may not be a problem for you. More problematic is that the author is a little too New Agey in some areas, and also he gets into some prosperity teachings- a witch can keep away illness with the right magick, a witch should be doing better than others to show the power of their magick, etc. I didn’t like that thinking in Christianity and I certainly don’t like it in Wicca. If you keep those things in mind, however, this book is a great resource for a solitary looking to do a serious period of study before they commit to Wicca for life.
Eclectic Wicca: A Guide for the Modern Witch by Mandi See: This is an excellent Wicca 101 book for solitaries who are looking for a more casual read than Cunningham or Sabin but that still covers a lot of the same ground. It would have ranked higher for me except that she takes the eclectic thing pretty far- on the verge of “Wicca is whatever you want it to be”, and when she discusses the Law of Attraction she sticks her toe over into the prosperity teaching thing (for example, the example she gives about why the poor stay poor). Still a great contribution to the beginner Wiccan’s library.
All the books I can’t list- Read history, mythology, science, poetry, folklore, and comparative religions. You’ll learn a lot about Wicca reading the Tao Te Ching or Lord of the Rings if you know how to listen to your inner voice and you know what you’re looking for. Wicca is not an ancient religion, but it is a modern religion with ancient roots.
What was your favorite intro book and why? Leave your answer in the comments!