I’ve been doing a lot of book shopping lately, and I’ve been a little bit disgusted about the proliferation of books out there that seem meant to do nothing but suck new Wiccans in and drain them of their money providing nothing more than washed out New Age material or inaccurate witchcraft material. They promise that they can “change your life” or “make your wishes come true”. It sounds like an ad for the Wizard of Oz. If I didn’t already know something about witchcraft, how would I know what book to choose as a beginner? And even now, how do I know what books to choose to continue to learn from? It’s not that reading the wrong book is a catastrophe; it’s that it’s your time and money and you should get out of it what you are hoping to get out of it. If you want to read a book on Wicca, then it should be about Wicca.
Step #1- Look at the title:
Ideally, a book on Wicca should have the word “Wicca” in the title, at least somewhere. If not, it should be obvious what kind of witchcraft they’re writing on. Why? Because there are many witches who don’t consider themselves Wicca. It’s not that learning about them is bad, it’s just not learning about Wicca. For some books that are good examples:
This is not obviously a universal statement, as many books with the word “Witchcraft” in the title have to do with Wicca.
Both of the above books, however, do have the word “Wicca” in their descriptions or on their back cover. It may not always be that clear, but it should be evident that the book is about Wicca, and not just witchcraft as a craft, or another religion that practices witchcraft.
A lot of really bad books, too, have Wicca in their title. So that word in and of itself is not the end-all-be-all but is rather a starting point in finding accurate reading.
Tip #2- Wicca doesn’t have subcategories, at least not in the pop culture sense.
Despite the popularity of this on various social media platforms, the “what type of witch are you” trend is not Wiccan. If it helps you in your craft to try and figure that out, then there is nothing wrong with it, but it is not necessary. I personally believe it is not helpful. Wicca is more about balance. If you feel primarily drawn to water, maybe it’s a sign you need more fire in your life. We all have areas we can grow in. And the fact that you feel drawn to nature makes you a witch, not a particular type of witch. We all have our favorite types of landscapes and favorite manifestations of nature. Non-witches have this as well. Being drawn to the moon is a common experience of people who end up in witchcraft- that doesn’t mean you’re called to any specific type of witchcraft. It means you acknowledge a universal archetype for the feminine that has been there since ancient times.
Therefore, this book I feel is unhelpful at best and misleading at worst (and yes, I’ve read it):
Another big reason I’m choosing it is what it says in its citation of it being a White Witch Academy textbook. Wicca does not have white, red, grey, green, black, yellow, purple (ok, the last two are made-up) witches. Every Wiccan is supposed to be a “white” witch- we believe in doing no harm. If you do not believe in that tenet, that is not Wiccan. It’s an essential part of what makes Wicca what is. No room for negotiation on this one. Red witches are a thing from the Dragonlance series of books, and grey witchcraft is its own witchcraft philosophy that is not Wiccan. Green witchcraft is the same- it’s a witchcraft philosophy, not part of the religion of Wicca. There are a lot of books that focus on green witchcraft and I would just state that you are probably going to learn more about the practice of green witchcraft then you will learn about the beliefs, philosophy, and practice of Wicca from reading those books. If that’s what you want, then that’s fine, but just be aware of what you’re spending your money.
Tip #3- Wiccans don’t work with angels- i.e. Christianized Wicca
About the only thing good about this book is it keeps to tip #1.
The authors identify themselves on Amazon as “spiritual life coaches” and list their careers as professional public psychic (Robbins) and as an actor (Greenway). This should be grounds for concern right away. If you look at the list of books they have co-authored, they have included many questionable “prophecy” books.
Then they have a disclaimer that this book is meant to entertain (yes, they include education too, but seriously? To entertain?). Any book on non-fiction that has a disclaimer of that sort should be thrown in the trash. Don’t even donate it; someone else might get it and think it’s accurate.
And this book is not accurate. From the “white witch” thing to the focus on Christian angels, to suggestions such as potions/tinctures in the microwave, because “the radiation gives it more energy” this book is almost complete nonsense, and what little might be true in it is so obscured it’s not even funny. If this was your intro to Wicca, and what you’re basing your foundational knowledge of Wicca on, then you need to start again, unfortunately.
Although this book says it’s Christian witchcraft, in its description it claims to be Christian Wicca.
I have written here in-depth about my view of Christian Wicca. Nothing in this book changes my opinion.
Tip #4- Beginners don’t need whole books of spells
This isn’t so much any particular book being “bad” as just something for beginners to keep in mind. Some books by authors I think are very good have spellbooks out: Arin Murphy-Hiscock, Scott Cunningham, Christopher Penczak. However, most beginner books have several spells and/or give the reader information on how to write their own spell (I’m going to be posting on that one of these days). For a beginner, that’s really all you need. If you enjoy collecting more books like that, just remember that witchcraft is not just about saying the right words; that you have to raise and direct energy and that requires visualization skills, meditative skills, etc. Also, the practice of Wicca is primarily about worshipping/venerating the God and the Goddess and venerating their presence in nature and the mysteries of life through celebrating the Wheel of the Year, not about witchcraft.
I hope that gives you some ideas for what to look for when you’re evaluating what to read. There’s a lot out there, and it can be tricky to navigate on your own, but the search for accurate knowledge is so worth it in the end. For books that I recommend, check out here.
Some older books about Wicca do have witchcraft in the title. My books would definitely be useful to Wiccans (I’ve been practising Wicca for 30 years) but I put witchcraft in the title and then explained the different types of witchcraft traditions— Gardnerian Wicca, Alexandrian Wicca, Cochrane witchcraft, Reclaiming, Anderson Feri, etc.
Also there are subsets of Wicca: Gardnerian Wicca, Alexandrian Wicca, Blue Star Wicca, eclectic Wicca, and many more.
I’d also recommend Thorn Mooney’s book “Traditional Wicca: a Seeker’s Guide”.
I thought I had put a picture of Buckland’s “The Complete Guide to Witchcraft” to illustrate an example of a book on Wicca that is titled as being about witchcraft, so your point is a good one. I agree there are some good books about Wicca on the market that are titled “Witchcraft”. My only concern is that people know whether or not they’re learning about Wicca when they read the book, versus, say, grey witchcraft or modern traditional witchcraft. Not that those things are bad to learn about, but they’re not Wiccan.
Feel free to post back with a link to your book!
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I think in the early days, Wicca and witchcraft were regarded as synonymous, whereas now of course, Wicca is a subset of witchcraft.
My book, “All acts of love and pleasure: inclusive Wicca” is available from Avalonia.
My other books, “Dark Mirror: the Inner Work of Witchcraft” and “The Night Journey: Witchcraft as Transformation” are available from the Doreen Valiente Foundation online shop.
Thank you 😊