[I started this and then realized it's going to take some time to finish it. I'll keep this on the blog as a permanent resource, and one that will likely evolve and change.]
My friend David Dashifen Kees helped put together a list of essential Pagan books over on HuffPo Religion. You should go check it out.
There are some good books on there to be sure, and authors I admire. But there’s a problem with lists. One person’s definitive list isn’t going to seem definitive for everyone. Whether we are arguing over the top ten action movies of all time, or the top five drag queens in the country, we will never be satisfied. It’s what makes such lists fun.
So my reaction reading Dash’s list was “Oh no, you’re missing…….” And a list began to form in my mind.
So I see your list, good sir, and raise you another! *privately wonders how many bloggers will create book lists today*
I think I’m going to divide this into sections. And one of those sections will include books I have not yet read, but consider essential to my library.
‘Cause you have to start somewhere…
My first book, read when it was still free online. Starting here will clear you of a lot of bad information right off the bat.
Essential text for understanding Reclaiming Witchcraft, and a seminal text of modern Paganism.
The most practical and comprehensive book on old school trad Craft. This was my first physical book on the Craft, and influences me even today.
I’ve heard this may be reprinted in the near future. Of all the primers I’ve read so far on Hellenic religion, this one is still the best.
There’s some UPG in here, but it’s clearly marked. A well-written introduction to Heathenry. But beware, you will have to read a lot of introductions to Heathenry. It’s a diverse, and sometimes contentious, spiritual community. So even if you start here, you’ll be reading Paxson, Thorsen and a myriad other authors before you even begin to get a basic grasp on the religion and community.
This is being graced with a new edition. Not really a 101 book, but I include it here because it had a profound effect on my spiritual life long before I knew what recontructionism was.
This online book is a fantastic introduction to Celtic Reconstructionism.
Both an exploration of Goddess spirituality, with a little BS to watch for, but also was my first introduction to what Pagan art was, is and can be.
If you’re interested in Feri start here.
Books that help you through the conversion process.
Ex-Catholic priest Matthew Fox promotes the idea of original blessing, rather than original sin.
Forget the DaVinci Code and read these instead.
Gnostics, lost gospels, strange poetry and prose, and ancient magical texts.
Mark Twain will have you in stitches in his humorous look at religion.
There are a lot of books out there that have been discredited, or don’t have a practical application to our lives today. But without reading them we won’t understand our roots, or the mindset and worldview of Pagans who came before us.
Stories, Morals, Ethics, Poetry
Fantastic stories and great reading.
A lovely story featuring a staunch “pagan” grandfather, and the granddaughter who took after him.
Psychology and fairy tales for men.
Psychology and fairy tales for women.
Like The Wicker Man, it’s inspiring and gruesome all at once.
A historical novel not entirely accurate, but a really good read for those contemplating the Witch Trials.
A novel, and not historically accurate, but a really good read.
Best book on Chaos magic I’ve read, and full of fascinating insights into group dynamics. Also, a good look at probability, which any magic worker worth their salt should understand.
I have a hard time selling people on this book, but when I say it’s one of the best practical guides to the Kabbalah in existence and it’s hilarious, I mean it. Great occult books don’t have to be all moody drama. They can be funny as hell. And after reading this check out the Mythbuster’s episode where they put the theory on the Ark of the Covenant to the test.
Great book on the process of erecting sacred space. While Wiccan in focus, I think anoyone who performs group ritual will get something out of it.
I still haven’t finished this but what I have have read so far has made it one of my favorite books on ritual.
Yup, you may have no interest in Thelema or Crowley, but read this anyway. Full of really great advice on crafting effective and moving group rituals. Common sense seems too mild, I’ll say this book has horse sense, and some of the assertions that go against the grain of ritual as commonly taught today are so smart and unapologetic that I burst out laughing. Great book.
The best work on the origins of modern Pagan Witchcraft. Not flawless but a gripping and inspiring read for an academic tome.
A journalist follows several branches of Paganism in the United States, and each edition contains updates.
I still haven’t read this, but I need to. I consider it essential and my not having ticked it off my list yet annoys me.
Carlo Ginzburg’s study of the Witch Trials.
Haven’t read yet, but how can I pass up a social history of Paganism in southern California?
Maxine Sander’s autobiography taken from her diaries. Fascinating look at the birth of the Alexandrian tradition, and the happening Pagan landscape that preceded it.