As a High Priestess with over 25 years of experience in The Craft, I often get emails from individuals asking how to go about learning more about Wicca, Witchcraft, and Paganism. The following are some of my recommendations:
First of all… read, Read, READ. There are plenty of books out there written about Paganism and its various paths. Of course, the problem is discovering which ones are worth reading, and which ones to simply ignore. This isn’t an easy task. Here are a few suggestions I have for finding those books worth adding to your own library:
1. Don’t be afraid to ask others for their recommendations – especially those folks who have been practicing Paganism for several years. Such people can often point you towards the proper publications.
2. Amazon.com can be a great resource for information – check out the various book lists from readers, and also the comments and reviews left regarding different books. I often use such comments to learn more about what others think of a certain book.
3. Websites such as The Witches Voice and The Wiccan/Pagan Times are excellent resources for reading about different publications and finding out more about what books members of the Pagan Community are reading these days. In addition, Isis Books and Gifts has a good listing of books, and even divides some of them into Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Wicca recommendations.
4. Check out the websites of those companies that are currently publishing Pagan-related books. Amongst those I am familiar with are Llewellyn Publications, New Page Books, Citadel Books (under Kensington Publishing), and Inner Traditions Publications (if anyone knows of any others, please feel free to leave a comment and share such information!)
5. There are some very good blogs out there that contain book lists, or which write about different books worth checking out. Amongst the blogs I have discovered that have such lists are A Pagan Sojourn, Pagan Godspell, and At the End of Desire. Jason Pitzl-Waters over at The Wild Hunt often posts about books, as does Chas Clifton (who has himself written a number of books about Paganism) and other Pagan bloggers. I am sure there are many more out there, so if anyone has suggestions, feel free to leave a comment!
6. There is a book published called The Well-Read Witch, written by Carl McColman. Carl gives his own recommendations on “essential books for your magickal library.” For the most part, I agree with his suggestions, and have many of the books on his list myself. His list is actually divided into a number of different topics, including Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced books on Wicca; books on magick, divination, herbalism, healing, and mythology; books for kids as well as on Pagan Parenting; and books on subjects such as history, science, psychology, and sexuality. It might be worth picking up this book to find out more about what publications are out there.
7. Consider joining One Spirit book club, which offers a wide variety of books to enrich the body, mind, and spirit. This club is operated by the Book-of-the-Month club, and works pretty much the same way… you get mailings on a monthly basis that tell you about the various books being offered.
Don’t limit yourself strictly to books about Paganism, Wicca, or Witchcraft… as Carl’s book says, many witches are indeed well-read. It would be to your benefit to explore various aspects of spirituality…to perhaps study not only Paganism but other religions, as well as the concept of spirituality itself. As mentioned above, Carl’s book focuses on various subjects, and indeed it is a good idea to read about such – not only books on magick, but on mythology; not only on potions, but also on power and its proper usage; not only on grimoires but also on group dynamics. I can gain just as much from reading the writings of Plato as I do those of Scott Cunningham, Starhawk, or Phyllis Curott.
Even if you are not interested in practicing Paganism as a spiritual path, the above suggestions can still be helpful in finding books on different topics that might be of interest to you… such as natural healing, herbalism, aromatherapy, tarot and other forms of divination, astrology, women’s spirituality, mythology, history, ecology and environmentalism, etc. You can study about ancient cultures – their beliefs, practices, and everyday lives; you can discover which herbs are good for colds and flu; you can find out how to read palms. Or you can simply learn how to connect with your own inner spirit.
I hope that this post has given you some guidance in how to go about exploring your own spiritual path, and discovering more about what Paganism is all about. Feel free to leave comments with your own suggested books, resources, websites, etc.