With Halloween rapidly approaching, it's time to talk witchcraft. Halloween is the biggest Wiccan holiday of the year. In the pagan tradition, it is referred to as "Samhain" and it marks the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter, the"darker half" of the year.
For most of us, Halloween is an excuse to dress slutty and drink funny-colored cocktails. For those of us with a Wiccan persuasion, it's a night of worship, celebration and (if you're in the mood) naked campfire dancing. Since we are thankfully no longer burning witches at the stake, I say it's time we embrace our inner priestesses.
Not sure how to go about casting that love spell? Unsure of the proper use of a broomstick? Well, read on. We've rounded up nine books to guide you (and even your kids) down the path of witchery and whimsy.
The Penguin Book of Witches by Katherine Howe gives you a look back at witch history... which is pretty dark, indeed. (Salem might come to mind.) Howe traces the real-life account of witches from medieval Europe through to colonial America. In order to compile this lengthy retelling, she used real documents dating all the way back to the 1500s. She sheds light on the reality behind the legends. Don't forget that it's important we know our history or we're doomed to repeat it.
Back in high school (during my Craft) phase, I found The Good Spell Book by Gillian Kemp at Urban Outfitters and fell in love. I went the whole nine yards: I bought candles, scented oils and witchy wear. The book focuses more on gypsy magic and it's just good fun. From spells to attract the person you desire, to getting rid of a headache, this beautiful little book has it all. Safe for Halloween party consumption with no fear of being entombed for evil intent.
Although sometimes attacked for watering down Wicca, Silver RavenWolf did a lot for bringing the religious practice to the mainstream. To Ride a Silver Broomstick is her introduction to all things witch for what she calls the "new generation." Her book is full of information, but also humor and personal anecdotes. So what if it's a little cutesy? RavenWolf shares the basics of her religion and starts wannabes on the path to wonder witch.
If you're already a practicing pagan, Pagan Parenting by Kristin Madden is the book for you as you raise your kids. Madden gives guidance on sharing your religion with your little ones. After all, children are the future and who better to carry on ancient traditions? This book isn't about force-feeding kids Wicca or spell-casting. Much of it revolves around teaching children honor and respect and nurturing your child's spirituality. Sounds good to me.
You know how in The Craft, the girls could, like, control the weather and miraculously remove scars? OK, so those things aren't real. Edain McCoy is the author of over a dozen books about witchcraft, but she gives the down-and-dirty real truth in If You Want to be a Witch. She doesn't glam it up; she explains her religion as it is with plenty of info about rituals, celebrations and even divination. This is a good crash course to help you decide if the path of Wicca is really for you.
Ready for an info dump? Here you go! A Witches' Bible: The Complete Witches' Handbook is a compilation of Wicca's greatest hits by Janet and Stewart Farrar. Whereas many books about witchcraft touch on these topics, Witches' Bible feeds you all you need to know about initiation rites, the Book of Shadows, astral projection and even sex. Not necessarily easy reading, but chock-full of all you need to know.
Scott Cunningham was a revered teacher of all things Wicca until he passed away in 1993. Cunningham's Book of Shadows was published after his death and includes some of his most powerful spells. I would suggest this book for a practicing Wiccan, as opposed to the curious seeker. Cunningham includes a long list of rituals, incantations and a guide to herbs. If you seek to cure what ails you (or a loved one), this book will have the magical answer.
Men can be witches, too, of course! A.J. Drew's Wicca Spellcraft for Men will have your dude working his own spells in no time. According to Drew, there is a difference between male and female energy and that difference affects the spells we perform. The book addresses issues men face in their day-to-day lives. Who knows? Wicca could be a fun practice for the two of you!
We've talked about movies and spells and broomsticks, but let's get real. We go back to Scott Cunningham in The Truth About Witchcraft Today. People would believe witchcraft is about blood sacrifice and Satan worship when, in fact, it is anything but. This is a book for the doubter, the persecutor and even the fool. Learn about the Wiccan connection to nature and the reality behind an ancient religion, again rising in popularity.
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