I often have people ask me for book recommendations for those new to Paganism. Over the years I have found myself giving out the same titles over and over. So I have finally decided to make up a list of them. Now I can just hand out the book list and tell the inquirer to simply get these books!
There is no timeline here. You can go as fast or as slowly as you like. What is important is that you retain the information that you read.
1- The first, must have book is by Scott Cunningham and it’s called “Earth, Air, Fire and Water”. This is an outstanding resource on the basics of elemental magic. This book contains a great deal of information on the background of elemental magic and has very simple spells that ca be done by anyone.
2- The next book on the list is “Moon Magick” by D.J. Conway. This book is great for getting a good insight into the rituals and practices surrounding the moon. This book includes great background information on the groups that have worshipped the moon throughout history.
3- Next on my list is “Rites of Passage” By Dan and Pauline Campanelli. I’ve loved this book since I first picked it up over a decade ago. This is absolutely the most basic of books in detailing the various rites and rituals of life in the Pagan view. This book breaks down the rites and rituals into easily understandable information. It gives all the details someone new could ever want and is presented in a way that makes it very easy to understand.
4- To get a better understanding of the names Pagans choose for themselves, the best book to buy on the subject is “The Complete Guide to Magical Names” by Phoenix McFarland. This gives an assortment of names and their meanings from every corner of the globe, from writers and from history.
5- This next book may cause some eyebrows to go up but I will list it anyway. “Zolars Encyclopedia of Ancient and Forbidden Knowledge” written by Zolar. This was actually one of the first Pagan books I ever owned and it has been an invaluable reference book for some 30 years. It covers everything from the basics of astrology to interpretation of dreams. There is an interesting rumor that J.K.Rowling used it to help with the names of various magical terms in the Harry Potter series.
6- Next on my list is another book written by DJ Conway. This one is titled “Animal Magick” and as the name suggests it focuses on the magic that can be worked by invocation of various animals. I include this for beginners because you might as well get the background information at the beginning for a branch of magic you will run into time and time again. This book will supply that information in a way that is easily understandable to the new practitioner.
7 – Now we come to another book written by the Campanelli team called “Ancient Ways”. This is another old book that has grandly withstood the test of time. It goes into the history of Paganism, the meanings and rationale behind the rituals and gives some great information on why we do what we do. For the beginner it gives you a place to start and a way to explain what you are to others, if you so choose. This book helps you put your feelings into words, even if you are only speaking to yourself.
8 – I debated long and hard about which book to place in this position. I decided on “Pagan Feasts” by Anna Franklin and Sue Philips. The reason I debated with myself is because I figure at least one person is going to question the inclusion of a cookbook in my list of most important books for new Pagans. Well food IS important. It doesn’t only nourish our bodies but it feeds our spirits as well. Few of us don’t have powerful memories of holiday dinners from when we were children. Good, bad or otherwise, many of our memories are invoked by certain dinners. So I decided to get the new Pagan off to a good start.
One of the best parts of being Pagan is that you ADD holidays to your life but you don’t actually have to give any holidays up unless you choose to do so. Now “Pagan Feasts” will give you great menu ideas and will explain the feasts in detail. Adding new feasts is always a great idea and you may be inspired to participate more fully if there is a gastronomical reward!
9 – This book was chosen because I want all new Pagans to get into the habit of keeping a spiritual journal. To that end I chose the book “Your Book of Shadows” as a book to read that will get you started. It tells you what sorts of things to include, how to organize the book and how to choose the book that best suits your needs.
10 – A Blank Journal. This is perhaps the most important book in this list because you write it. This is not necessarily the same thing as a Book of Shadows. It can be but doesn’t have to be. Some people, myself included, have highly organized minds that need to have their information organized in a streamlined manner. For me that means that my Book of Shadows is one book, my journal is another book, my quotes and power thoughts are in yet another book. That may not work for some. Some may prefer to have everything in one place. That’s fine. But you are going to need a blank book. So go to your nearest big bookstore and wander around in the section on blank books until one of them tells you to take it home (Trust me, one will). To get you started writing in it, as it is always difficult to write that first word, try this: Get your horoscope for today and copy it into the book. Underneath it, write what you hope that it means. I do this for every new Blank Book I buy. After that, it’s surprisingly easy to write in them.
Happy Reading (and writing)!