Sunday, March 1, 2015

Knowing Thy Craft


Unlike many other spiritual paths, paganism and witchcraft, although not a religion, have no one book to guide us. This can make it increasingly difficult for new witches and pagans to get started. With all the information floating around out there, it can be overwhelming to new comers. Where do you start?

I always, always, always suggest books first. While the Internet is a great thing and blogs like mine are becoming an increasingly valuable resource, there is a lot of misinformation floating around. Yes, some books contain this same misinformation, but books are generally written by witches and pagans who have been practicing most of their lives. They are extremely well versed in their craft and have extensive tested knowledge and wisdom to share. Furthermore, they often contain very accurate correspondences, ritual guides, spells and outlines, and other pertinent information for beginner witches.

In today's post I would like to share my library with you. Mind you, my collection is small. I tend to buy what books call to me when they call. Let's just say, it's not often I feel the need to buy a book about my craft. My list here is in alphabetical order. I have labeled my must haves and ranked each with stars (5 being the highest and 1 the lowest).

MY LIBRARY

Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham MUST HAVE (*****)- Every hedgewitch needs to know the magical uses of herbs. There is no better book on the market regarding the magical uses of herbs. This is a must have in EVERY witch's library.

Garden Witchery: Magic From the Ground Up by Ellen Dugan MUST HAVE (*****)- Flowers, trees, and herbs are part of every hedgewitch's repertoire, making this wonderful little book a must have. Dugan covers everything from herbal correspondences and flower language to practical growing advice and magically planning your garden. While there are undertones of Wicca, the book is not pushy with the subject. It is easy to read, delightfully engaging, and full of useful information for both beginner and advanced witches. Read my full synopsis here.

Hedge Riding by Harmonia Saille (****)- This is a must have for any hedgewitch, but I did not list it has a must have because other witches and pagans won't benefit from its contents. Harmonia has done it again. This short book is a great introduction to hedge riding, how to do it, and the different realms hedgewitches travel to when hedge riding. Its easy to read and understand and great for any level hedgewitch. Read my full synopsis here.

Hedge Witch: A Guide to Solitary Witchcraft by Rae Beth (***)- I was really hoping to like this book more than I did. This is NOT a guide on hedgecraft, but instead solitary Wicca. Beth gets most of the history of hedgecraft wrong and the rituals are very complicated and too formal for most hedgewitches. If you are into the Wiccan rituals and are more experienced, this is the book for you. The trance or meditation exercises are totally worth reading. They were very well explained and easy to follow. No matter where you stand on the meditation scale, these exercises are great for everyone. This is written in letter form, so be prepared to organize the book with sticky notes. You can read my full synopsis here.
Hedgewitch: Spells, Crafts, and Rituals for Natural Magic by Silver RavenWolf (***)- While I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding Silver, I have always loved her writing. This book is no exception. This is a workbook. You work through several lessons over the course of days, weeks, or months depending on your choosing, and slowly build your witch's cabinet while exploring some aspects of hedgecraft. This is to help experienced witches or those who are already familiar with the craft. This is not for beginners, even if she says it is.

Hedge Witchcraft by Harmonia Saille MUST HAVE (*****)- While this book is a very short and basic introduction to hedgecraft, I believe every witch should read it. Why? Because it is the most accurate book on the market regarding what a hedgewitch is and what they practice (unless I decide to write my own book. Haha!) It provides a wonderful list of trees and herbs hedgewitches commonly use, a description of the sabbats according to one hedgewitch, and explains the elements. I really enjoyed this book and wish that it was longer! Read my full synopsis here. PS: You may see on the Amazon reviews that I ripped someone a new one. If you are going to review a book, at least know what you are talking about people!

Magical Housekeeping: Simples Charms and Practical Tips for Creating a Harmonious Home by Tess Whitehurst (****)-Whitehurst is a master when it comes to creating a harmonious home. She mixes many ancient traditions, including Buddhism, Feng Shui, witchcraft, and more to help you make a happy, prosperous home. This is again for more experienced witches. This is not a guide on the craft but an addition to it.

Sabbats: A Witch's Approach to Living the Old Ways by Edain McCoy (****)- McCoy covers all the pagan holidays in order in this wonderful book. She covers their history and lore, rituals, spells, traditions, crafts, and recipes. This book is a stunning compilation of knowledge and a great introduction to the holidays you can celebrate to honor the god and goddess or, in my case, the earth and nature. Some of the lore may be questionable.

The Complete Herbs Sourcebook by David Hoffman (****)-This is not a pagan book, although it contains strong pagan undertones, but I use it every time I write an Herbarium post. Hoffman explains the uses of herbs in medicine, even breaking down how they chemically react in the body. His entire book is easy to read and understand. He also provides information on harvesting, drying, and storing herbs, as well as the best methods of making infusions or tinctures. Hoffman's book is a wonderful addition to a witch's library, especially if you plan on using herbal remedies.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft Second Edition by Denise Zimmermann (****)- There is a newer edition out, but I haven't read it. This may seem like a really odd book to appear here, but Zimmermann provides a lengthy history of witchcraft and paganism, great correspondence lists, a brief over view of the sabbats and the deities, and guides to spell work and rituals.She even includes spells you can reference and change to suit your needs. The self dedication/initiation in this book is also very beautifully written and serves as a great reference for writing your own or using if you aren't creative. This was one of the most fascinating books I ever purchased on witchcraft. It is a wonderful learning tool.

The Magical Household by Scott Cunningham and David Harrington MUST HAVE(*****) - Easy to read and full of ancient folklore and tradition, this is a must have in any hedgewitch's library. It covers everything from protection and cleansing, to indoor gardens and moving. If you are not superstitious I suggest you pick a different book. Read my full synopsis here.

The Modern Guide to Witchcraft by Skye Alexander (****) - I didn't label this a must have for a couple (maybe insignificant) reasons, but I strongly recommend it. Easy, fun, and accessible to read for beginners and experts alike. This is an introduction to witchcraft, not Wicca, and includes accurate correspondences, spells, and explanations on a variety of topics. Skye does a great job introducing the craft and will inspire even the oldest witches to get out there are cast a spell or two! Read my full synopsis here.

The Way of the Hedgewitch by Arin Murphy-Hiscock MUST HAVE(*****) - This is a wonderful introduction, although it focuses more so on hearthcraft than hedgecraft. It outlines deities (if you are into that), home magic, rituals, and recipes all hedgewitches should know. I have mentioned this book in previous posts, including my home protection ward and threshold protection spell. As I stated, this book is more about hearthcraft than hedgecraft, but it a must have in any hedgewitch's library.

To Ride a Silver Broomstick by Silver Ravenwolf (**)- Like Teen Witch, some of the history, lore, and techniques are questionable. This book has worked for many and while I think that's great, I would be careful if you are interested in this book. I gave my copy to Goodwill. However, it is a series of lessons designed to help you work through the craft. Silver has a way with words so the book is enjoyable and easy to read. I do not suggest this book.

Teen Witch by Silver Ravenwolf (*)- This was one of the first books I turned to when I wanted to learn about Wicca and witchcraft. I do not recommend this book. While Silver means well, the book attacks Christians yet makes Wicca out to be like Christianity. Much of the history and techniques are questionable as well.

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham (****)- I don't practice Wicca anymore, but if you are interested, again Cunningham takes the cake. This is a great introduction to Wicca, but also a great introduction to how to set up a ritual, how to perform spell work, and how to track your growth through the use of a Book of Shadows. Even if you aren't interested in the religious part of it, I still suggest reading this book for his expert knowledge on witchcraft.

Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deidre English MUST HAVE (*****)- Okay, so this isn't strictly about witchcraft. Instead it is a feminist piece from the 70s, but it is wonderful all the same. Despite some slight inaccuracies, this book gives a compelling rendition of women as healers through the ages. Witches, especially hedgewitches, were and are traditionally healers, making this book an excellent addition to any pagan library. When I finished, I felt compelled to buff up on herbal remedies and add some new information to my ever growing library of healing. This book also put many historical events into perspective for me, giving me a much better understanding of where we began and how much things have changed over the centuries. Read my full synopsis here.

Your Book of Shadows: How to Write Your Own Magickal Spells by Patricia Telesco (***)-  I both loved and hated this book. The first chapter or two are definitely the best parts and worth reading if you get your hand on a copy. They provide wonderful insights into creating your own BOS/grimoire and provided me with some fresh ideas to get started. The rest of the book, while useful, is a basic introduction to Wicca. If you are new to the craft, this book would be a MUST HAVE. If you are an experienced witch, such as myself, only the first chapter would be particularly useful. Read my full synopsis here.


ONLINE SOURCES

There are also some online sources I would suggest apart from my own blog of course.

Marietta over at Witchy Words writes a hell of a blog. She is probably my favorite pagan blogger. She updates often and gives a glance into the behind the scenes working of her local covens. Her pictures and artwork are stunning.

Mark over at Atheopaganism for those who, like me, don't believe in deities. He updates often and there is a great discussion taking place every day on the Facebook page.

Penniless Pagan is another great blog for witches and pagans alike, whether you are starting out or advanced. It is especially useful if you are short on cash or don't believe your practice should cost money. Michaela is a wonderfully hilarious blogger, who knows her craft well.

You can't go wrong with Llwellyn Worldwide. They sell a variety of pagan, wicca, and witchcraft tools and books. They also have wonderful articles that I have referenced before.

About.com's Pagan and Wicca section is very well put together and very accurate. Great resource for history, lore, and correspondences.



With knowledge and practice come wisdom. If you are new, or even experienced, learning more about your craft is the best thing you can do. Remember, your mind is a garden. Nurture it.



I will be updating this list as I find more books I think you should read and blogs I find useful.
2015 ADDITIONS
Hedge Witch by Rae Beth
The Magical Household by Scott Cunningham and David Harrington
2016 ADDITIONS
The Modern Guide to Witchcraft by Skye Alexander
Hedge Withcraft by Harmonia Saille
Hedge Riding by Harmonia Saille 
Your Book of Shadows by Patricia Telesco 
2017 ADDITIONS
Garden Witchery: Magic From the Ground Up by Ellen Dugan
Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers by B. Ehrenreich and D. English
 

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for the kind recommendation for the Atheopaganism blog!

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  2. The information you listed with each book helped me a lot. I have only began learning my path and the Hedgecraft books are quite helpful. Thank you so much and blessed be :)!

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    1. So glad you found it useful. I will be adding more books throughout the year so keep an eye out for them!

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  3. I would recommend A Compendium of Herbal Magic and/or The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyerl. Both texts are written by someone who has a formal background in herbalism and botany which made me much more confident in his writings than I was in Mr. Cunningham's.

    Scott Cunningham was an expert in Standing Stone Witchcraft, and a first degree initiate of Wicca, but as accessible as his writings were in regards to his witchcraft, there were elements of the herbalism texts that were botanically inaccurate.

    Good luck on your journey!

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    1. I'll be sure to put both books on my list of books to purchase. I have several other books on herbalism, other than Cunningham's and have found his to be an excellent overview of the magical uses of herbs and a great beginner's guide.

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  4. Replies
    1. Your welcome! I am glad you found it helpful. I am adding to it all the time!

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