The following books are valuable to seekers of traditional Wicca, regardless of which traditions interest you. Some are by historians, tracing the history of Witchcraft in a particular region. Others are by practitioners, designed to help expand your magical knowledge. Still others are biographies of important figures in Wicca’s history, which will provide you with additional insight into its contemporary development and hopefully inspire your own practice.
Aburrow, Yvonne. All Acts of Love & Pleasure: Inclusive Wicca. Glastonbury: Avalonia, 2014.
In this important book, Aburrow tackles the subject of inclusivity in initiatory Wicca. How does Wicca speak to practitioners with varied needs and from varied backgrounds? Though it has received a great deal of attention for its discussion of gender binaries and sexuality, this work contains so much more and is absolutely worth considering regardless of your own experience or tradition.
Aradia, Lady Sable. The Witch’s Eight Paths of Power: A Complete Course in Magick and Witchcraft. San Francisco: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2014.
A lot of books about magic and ritual instruct practitioners to “raise energy,” but what exactly does that mean? Aradia explores an assortment of techniques in detail, any of which may be used to lend power to your own magical practice.
Bado, Nikki. Coming to the Edge of the Circle: A Wiccan Initiation Ritual. New York: Oxford University, 2012.
Religion scholar and Wiccan priestess Nikki Bado analyzes the role of initiation in Wicca, from the unusual perspective of someone wearing the hats of both an insider and an outsider. This book is valuable for considering the how and why of initiatory experiences, regardless of your specific tradition.
Bourne, Lois. Dancing with Witches. London: Robert Hale Limited, 1998.
Lois Bourne was part of Gerald Gardner’s Bricket Wood coven. As a longtime practitioner and friend of Gardner, Bourne’s works are full of interesting anecdotes and a perspective that only comes from decades of experience.
Bracelin, Jack. Gerald Gardner: Witch. Thame, UK: I-H-O Books, 1999.
Originally published in 1960, this biography is the combined effort of Jack Bracelin and Idries Shah. Though it can feel a little disjointed, this book is full of worthwhile stories about Wicca’s famous founder.
Buckland, Raymond. Witchcraft from the Inside: Origins of the Fastest Growing Religious Movement in America. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 2001.
Ray Buckland was a prolific Wiccan author and one of the people responsible for the spread of Wicca to the United States. He also gets credit for the development of solitary Wicca. Here is his own history of the movement, written from the perspective of an insider.
Clifton, Chas S. Her Hidden Children: The Rise of Wicca and Paganism in America. Lanham, MD: AltaMira, 2006.
A prominent scholar of contemporary Pagan studies, Clifton looks specifically at the development of Wicca and Paganism in the United States. This relatively short history is both thorough and unintimidating.
Cochrane, Robert, with Evan John Jones. The Robert Cochrane Letters. Edited by Michael Howard. Somerset, UK: Capall Bann Publishing, 2002.
Cochrane’s writing is intentionally cryptic, but these short letters are responsible for the development of much of what we call “traditional Witchcraft” today. That alone would make them worth reading, but they are of particular interest to Wiccans because of Cochrane’s criticism of Gardner’s version of the Craft.
Crowther, Patricia. High Priestess: The Life & Times of Patricia Crowther. Blaine, WA: Phoenix Publishing, 1998.
Like Ray Buckland, Patricia Crowther is a prolific writer and a prominent leader of the early Craft. This is her autobiography (actually, it’s one of several autobiographies), and it’s full of personal accounts spanning Wiccan history.
Davies, Morganna, and Aradia Lynch. Keepers of the Flame: Interviews with Elders of Traditional Witchcraft in America. Providence, RI: Olympian Press, 2001.
This book is a collection of personal stories from experienced Witches, several of whom have been at this since before I was even born. These interviews are full of insight and represent several traditions.
Farrar, Janet, and Gavin Bone. Lifting the Veil: A Witches’ Guide to Trance-Prophesy, Drawing Down the Moon, and Ecstatic Ritual. Portland, OR: Acorn Guild Press, 2016.
In this book, Farrar and Bone explore the ritual of drawing down the moon, one of Wicca’s central rites, as well as other modes of direct communion with the divine. Farrar and Bone have both made enormous contributions to Wicca, and this text is of particular interest to traditional practitioners.
Farrar, Stewart. What Witches Do. Blaine, WA: Phoenix Publishing, 1991.
Farrar wrote this book as a young journalist, exploring Wicca as an outsider, before his eventual initiation. This is still my favorite book for depicting the inner workings of a coven, even today, and my students have found it to be one of the more useful books I recommend.
Filan, Kenaz, and Raven Kaldera. Drawing Down the Spirits: The Traditions and Techniques of Spirit Possession. Rochester, VT:
Destiny Books, 2009.
Filan and Kaldera explore the mechanics of working with the gods directly through possession. This book is not specific to any one tradition, and it will prove useful for those curious about the many ways we interact with gods and spirits.
Fitch, Ed. A Grimoire of Shadows: Witchcraft, Paganism & Magick. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 1997.
Full of rituals, poetry, and decades of experience, Ed Fitch’s book is a classic in the wider Pagan community. There’s a good chance you’ve encountered Fitch’s work at open events or online and just never realized it.
Fitch, Eric. In Search of Herne the Hunter. Berks, UK: Capall Bann Publishing, 1994.
Despite the title, Fitch’s book is a solid introduction to horned gods in general, not just Herne. Relatively short and full of interesting lore and histories, this book is worthwhile for Wiccans of all flavors.
Gaiman, Neil. American Gods. New York: HarperCollins, 2001.
Although this book is a work of fiction, Gaiman raises a number of challenging questions worth discussing. What happens to old gods in a new land with new people? How does social change give rise to new gods? This is one of very few books that I actually require my own outer court students to read.
Gardner, Gerald. The Meaning of Witchcraft. York Beach, ME: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2004.
Many covens include this book in their reading lists for seekers, including my own. No matter the tradition you pursue, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to read this at some point. However you feel about Gardner, his contributions to the contemporary Witchcraft movement cannot be overstated, and a comprehensive study of the Craft demands that we read his work.
Hanna, Jon. What Thou Wilt: Traditional and Innovative Trends in Post-Gardnerian Witchcraft. Westport, Ireland: Evertype, 2010.
Hanna wrote this book as part of his own Wiccan training. He discusses the differences between traditional and eclectic (what he calls “innovative”) forms of Wicca in a thoughtful, accessible way that will appeal to both confused beginners and more experienced Witches looking for a nuanced perspective.
Heselton, Philip. Doreen Valiente Witch. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn, 2016.
Doreen Valiente had more of an impact on the contemporary Witchcraft movement than almost anyone, and here Heselton details her life, both inside and outside the Craft. Heselton tells a good story and isn’t afraid to insert his own theories, which makes for an engaging, well-researched read.
Heselton, Philip. Witchfather: A Life of Gerald Gardner (Volumes 1 and 2). Loughborough, UK: Thoth Publications, 2012.
This is the most complete biography of Gerald Gardner available, from one of Wicca’s most knowledgeable writers. Heselton has a knack for capturing the humanity of his subjects, reminding us that behind any religious movement are the visions and quirks of people just living their lives.
Hutton, Ronald. The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
This is, hands down, the most thorough history of Wicca and neighboring Witchcraft and Pagan traditions currently available. If you’re unaccustomed to academic writing, you may find Hutton somewhat dry at times, but this book is well worth the effort.
Lamond, Frederic. Fifty Years of Wicca. Sutton Mallet, UK: Green Magic, 2004.
Frederic Lamond was a member of one of Wicca’s earliest covens and he’s full of (sometimes unflattering) stories about the colorful people at the head of Wicca’s development.
Leland, Charles. Aradia or the Gospel of Witches. Translated by Mario Pazzaglini and Dina Pazzaglini. Blaine, WA: Phoenix Publishing, 1998.
This short text is one of the most frequently cited by Witchcraft practitioners in any tradition. It inspired early Wiccans and continues to be a cornerstone of many types of modern Witchcraft. This edition is my favorite because of the useful insights provided by the Pazzaglinis.
Lipp, Deborah. The Elements of Ritual: Air, Fire, Water & Earth in the Wiccan Circle. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 2003.
Wiccan ritual can be quite elaborate, and it’s important to understand why we do what we do. Lipp breaks things down step-by-step, lending context to the words and actions that many of us take for granted.
Lloyd, Michael G. Bull of Heaven: The Mythic Life of Eddie Buczynski and the Rise of the New York Pagan. Hubbardston, MA: Asphodel Press, 2012.
This is so much more than a biography of Eddie Buczynski, the Wiccan high priest famous for his role in founding the Minoan Brotherhood and Welsh Traditional Witchcraft. This is a history of the New York Pagan scene in the last quarter of the twentieth century, worth reading regardless of your own tradition.
Murray, Margaret. The Witch-Cult in Western Europe: A Study in Anthropology. London: Oxford University Press, 1963.
One of the early classics of contemporary Witchcraft, this book is still worth reading in light of the incredible impact it had on the magical world. Murray was an Egyptologist and folklorist, and now we know her history to be suspect, but she remains important. She’s not the easiest to read thanks to the time period and her dry style, but it’s worthwhile to make the effort.
Pratchett, Terry. Small Gods. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.
A work of fiction from one of the fantasy’s most beloved authors, Small Gods is a humorous, surprisingly thought-provoking introduction to polytheism. Useful for thinking about power, origins, and what it means to be a devotee in a fun, approachable way.
Sanders, Maxine. Fire Child: The Life and Magic of Maxine Sanders ’Witch Queen.’ Oxford, UK: Mandrake of Oxford, 2008.
This is the autobiography of high priestess Maxine Sanders, famous for her role in the development of Alexandrian Wicca and for her marriage to “King of the Witches” Alex Sanders. Maxine Sanders has led a fascinating life, and this book makes for an informative read, particularly if you feel drawn to Alexandrian Wicca.
Sylvan, Dianne. The Circle Within: Creating a Wiccan Spiritual Tradition. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn, 2003.
Appropriate for all types of Wiccan practitioners, Sylvan’s book helps readers develop a meaningful daily practice regardless of their experience level or personal situation. I reread this book every couple of years and always find something worth remembering.
Valiente, Doreen. Witchcraft for Tomorrow. Blaine, WA: Phoenix Publishing, 1978.
Often called the mother of modern Witchcraft, Valiente’s lyrical writing style and incredible experiences make her a must-read for all Wiccans. Many of her books cover similar materials, and this one is my favorite as an introduction to the Craft.