Updated: Jan 29
There’s no denying that there’s been a new wave, a new age even, of witches. Witchcraft is on the rise again due in large part to the current craze of witchcraft and the supernatural in the media that has led to the witchy aesthetic's rise to the mainstream spotlight.
Yet, witchcraft is not just an esthetic, it’s deep spirituality, a religion, and a way of life. Contemporary Witchcraft in the West today grew out of the efforts of the brave witches in the 50s and 60s who brought Wicca and Witchcraft into the public eye as a legitimate spiritual and religious path, and the witches of 90s and 2000s who dared to continue this work after the inquisition-like era of the Satanic Panic. These witches who came before this new wave risked much (jobs, family, friends, and discriminatory legal action) so the #witchesofinstagram and the #WitchTok witches can not just survive but thrive in the public eye today.
This is a wonderful thing! More and more people are finding their way to (or, in some cases, back to) a spiritual practice that both empowers us and grounds us. But with the dizzying amount of books, blogs, websites and resources being published and shared today on the topic, where’s a witch to start? From one Elder Witch to the New Witches of the West, here are my top 5 recommendations for beginner books that will give you a very solid foundation for your practice that you will return to again and again on your path (book links support Arcane Shaman):
1. True Magick: A Beginner's Guide by Amber K - This book is the best overall overview of Modern Witchcraft. If you only buy one book, this is the one.
2. The Inner Temple of Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak - Best in-depth foundational book for beginning witchcraft. It focuses on training your foundation: what witchcraft is, focus, meditation, energy work, working with personal cycles and the cycles of the moon. You'll come back to this gem again and again.
3. The Outer Temple of Witchcraft by Christopher Penczak - Builds on the first book and goes deeper into elemental magick, creating sacred space, tools, and the wheel of the year.
4. The Spiral Dance by Starhawk - This bestseller is a foundational classic! Understand the roots of The Craft, the Goddess Movement, and the traditional Neopagan practices that are the foundation of much of the witchcraft practiced in North America today.
5. Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Correspondences by Sandra Kynes - The practice of witchcraft is steeped in correspondences. It will be extremely useful to have a book of correspondences that you can reference for your spell and ritual work.
If you decide after you’ve read these gems that you are ready for some more ‘formal’ training in Witchcraft, or you decide you want to work with a community (group/coven/temple/etc), but don’t know or have access to local groups, here are my top 3 recommended online witchcraft courses:
Temple of Witchcraft Mystery School (Based in the US)
Crescent Moon School of Magick & Paganism (Based in Canada)
Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary (Based in the US)