I received an email this morning asking what books I would recommend for someone who is interested in a magickal approach to activism. I decided it might be helpful for others if I shared my recommendations here as well. I have selected six of my favorite books which I feel are useful for magickal activism. My criteria was that the book must be politically relevant for our times, focused just as much on magickal approaches to activism as well as mundane approaches or thoughts, that they were easily accessible for purchase in most occult or new age bookstores (or major online sellers), and that I’ve read the book and thought that it was indeed beneficial books for this topic. Other great titles like Dion Fortune’s The Magical Battle For Britain is a great book but not completely politically relevant for our times (though some overlapping themes and ideas are useful).
Instead of leaving my own personal thoughts on these books, I’ve quoted the synopsis provided by the publisher. Three things that I would like to point out in regards to some of these selections. I contributed a piece to The New Aradia anthology. That isn’t why I’m recommending it. The other contributions are straight up brilliant and helpful and hit every one of my criteria of recommendation. I also didn’t receive any financial compensation for the anthology nor any royalties on sales, in fact, 12.5% of sales from this book go directly to nonprofits who are making an impact in our society. Lastly, while the synopsis for Apocalyptic Witchcraft doesn’t talk about politics, the book is indeed profoundly political. With all that being said, here are my recommendations:
The New Aradia: A Witch’s Handbook to Magical Resistance – Edited by Laura Tempest Zakroff
“Aradia or The Gospel of the Witches, as it was collected by Charles Godfrey Leland, brings us a folkloric mixture of myth, poetry, and magical instructions. Wrapped within those pages is the truth that Witchcraft is a revolutionary practice – a means for fighting against social injustices, shifting the balance of power, freeing people from oppression, breaking down political and financial systems that work against the people and nature itself. Witchcraft has long been the tool of the disenfranchised and the marginal. Calling oneself a Witch is in itself an act of defiance, a statement of going against the grain and the status quo of society.
Right now, Witchcraft is experiencing another revival that’s far-reaching across the social spectrum – and the story of Aradia streams forth like light amongst the shadows. How do we interpret Aradia today for the times that we are living in? As modern Witches, we can take inspiration from Aradia and add to the story with our own experiences, lore, and spellcraft. The #WeAreAradia movement says we don’t need to look to or watch for a savior – we are the ones we have been waiting for. These are the times that we are made for. Magical resistance happens both through physical means and metaphysical works – mind, body, and spirit. We seek not only to survive, but to thrive and craft new possibilities for tomorrow – for humanity, for the planet, for all.
The New Aradia is a handbook is designed to serve as a collection of ideas to teach, share, inspire, empower, protect, and guide. Within its pages are sigils, spells, recipes, essays, invocations, rituals, and more, all gathered from experienced magical practitioners. At your fingertips is an arsenal of tools to aid you on your path.
With contributions by: Aidan Wachter, Amanda Bell, Annalun, Annwyn Avalon, Aradia The Rose, H. Byron Ballard, Casandra Johns, Christopher Penczak, Deborah Castellano, Devin Hunter, Gwendolyn Reece, Irina Xara, Irisanya Moon, Ivo Dominguez Jr., Jay Logan, Jenn Zahrt, Kelden, Laura Tempest Zakroff, Lisa Bland, Lyssa Heartsong, Mat Auryn, Misha Magdalene, Patti Wigington, Phoenix LeFae, Raye Schwarz, Stephen Pocock & Storm Faerywolf.”
Witchcraft Activism: A Toolkit for Magical Resistance (Includes Spells for Social Justice, Civil Rights, the Environment, and More) – by David Salisbury
“The first hands-on guide to witchcraft activism with practical tips on everything from joining activist groups to conjuring spells for self-protection
There is a movement on the rise, one that brings the worlds of social justice and political activism together with the practice of witchcraft. Activists wish to add magical methods to their arsenal, while spell casters seek to use their powers to resist oppression. Written by an experienced witch-activist and with the current political climate in full view, the book shows readers how to learn spells for self-protection and body shielding, as well as methods of developing enhanced psychic intuition and situational awareness. Salisbury explains how and why to conjure spirits of defense, land spirits, ancestral spirits of activism, as well as your own personal guardian spirits. Included are rituals, spells, and sigils, written clearly and simply, so that even someone with absolutely no previous experience in spell casting can immediately feel empowered and join the “witch resistance.””
Magic for the Resistance: Rituals and Spells for Change – by Michael M. Hughes
“The resistance is growing, and it needs your help. This book provides spells and rituals designed to help you put your magical will to work to create a more just and equitable world. These magical workings can be used by activists of any spiritual or religious background. With ideas for altars, meditations, community organizing, self-care, and more, Magic for the Resistance offers a toolkit for magical people or first-time spellcasters who want to manifest social justice, equality, and peace.
If you’ve ever felt disillusioned or burned out because of the slow progress of social change, this magical work can nurture and support you, sharpening your focus and resolve for more sustained, long-term activism. In addition to influencing the outside world, these rituals bring you in closer alignment with your higher spiritual consciousness—because transforming your society begins with transforming yourself.”
Dreaming The Dark: Magic, Sex and Politics – by Starhawk
“Featuring narrative, chants, songs, and rituals, Dreaming the Dark has helped many thousands of women use magic, spirituality, and community to bring about political and social change. This anniversary edition of the best-selling classic includes a new preface reflecting on the fifteen years since the book’s original publication.
Dreaming the Dark is [Starhawk’s] best book; it offers myths of fulfillment, rituals of healing, an unusual but perhaps ultimately pragmatic cultural perspective, and a vision for survival and growth. –The Bloomsbury Review
“This book is the story of a journey, its author’s movement from a place of despair to one of action. . . . It is ultimately a message of hope and optimism, for Starhawk shares not only a vision but tools for personal empowerment, the building of community, and the transformation of culture. . . . A thought-provoking book that is a pleasure to read.” –Carol Haber, New Directions for Women
“Reading this book is in itself transformational. . . . You’re sure to come away from [Starhawk’s] work richer, deeper, and more truly informed.” –Pam Pacelli, New Age
“These are recipes for real change, filled with humor and good sense, protected with safeguards against the reassertion of our old habits of using power and against the temptations to overload and burnout.” –Judith S. Harrow, Association for Humanistic Psychology Newsletter
“A marvelously empowering and energizing book.” –Aunt Edna’s Reading List”
Apocalyptic Witchcraft – by Peter Grey
“The spectre of witchcraft is haunting the West, the dead giving up their secrets. This is a ritual unveiling of these mysteries. It is a vision and a revelation of the mythopoetic structure of the Art.
Apocalyptic Witchcraft is a bold project which does not seek to impose an orthodoxy on what is the heresy of heresies. Instead, it suggests a way forward. Apocalyptic Witchcraft gives a compelling and profound account of the Sabbat and Wild Hunt as living experiences. These are the core of our ritual practice. Dream, lunar and, critically, menstrual magic are explored as a path to this knowledge. The wolf, the devil, and the goddess of witchcraft are then encountered in a landscape that ultimately reveals the witch to her or himself. These are not separate threads, but arise from a deep mythic structure and are woven together into a single unifying vision. Alternating between polemic, poetic and ecstatic prose, an harmonious course is revealed in a sequence of elegant stratagems. The book is threaded together with a cycle of hymns to Inanna, pearls on the tapestry of night. Seemingly disparate aspects are joined into a vision which is neither afraid of blessing nor curse. This is a daring undertaking, born from both urgency and need. It offers a renewed sense of purpose and meaning for a witchcraft that has seen many of its treasured ideas about itself destroyed. An apocalyptic age demands an apocalyptic witchcraft, and this is a book which is offered up to revolutionise the body of the craft, a way out of the dark impasse.
Tradition is not static, it flows, and this work pours forth a vision for the future. Founded in pilgrimage and ritual, encountered in dreams and gleaned from the conversations of both doves and crows, a remarkable narrative unfolds. Its wings span from prehistory, through the witch panic and it emerges fully fledged into our present moment of crisis. It offers a witchcraft for our time.”
Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery – by Starhawk
“Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority and Mystery. (San Francisco, HarperSanFrancisco, 1988). A rich, complex, and radiant examination of the nature of power. Spinning together myth, history, ritual, poetry, spells, psychology, and activism, Starhawk offers new and creative alternatives for positive change in our personal lives, our communities, and our world.
This much-needed examination of the nature of power will enable women and men first to understand the different facets of power, then to act upon that knowledge to create positive change. Starhawk distinguishes three types of power: “power-over,” referring to domination and control; “power-from-within,” meaning personal ability and spiritual integrity; and “power-with,” pertaining to social power or influence among equals.
Drawing on one of the most ancient myths extant, the Descent of Innana, Starhawk develops a psychology of liberation, analyzing our internalized oppressor, the Self-hater; its faces are the Judge, the Conqueror, the Censor, the Master of Servants, and the Orderer.
Interwoven is Starhawk’s reconstruction of a pivotal time in history: how it was that the early peaceful society of ancient Sumer became strangled by warfare and how the rise of kingship led to the institution of patriarchy. And Starhawk tells of her first-hand experience as an activist and organizer in the anti-nukes campaigns. Truth or Dare is rich with insights on personal healing, group process, and accessing the genuine sources of power.”