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MoonFire UUCA’s Pagan Group
Recommended Reading and Resources

This list was compiled from various MoonFire members.  It covers both basic Pagan books, as well as ones for those who are interested in some of the history, background, or details of the faith.  While there are many, many books and many, many Pagan paths out there, this list is a pretty good representation of many of the various aspects of modern neo-Paganism.  Everything you read here is an opinion, and its the opinion of the individuals who contributed to the list. MoonFire as a group does have an opinion on these books. Links to Amazon are provided for reference, and we don't endorse Amazon over your local, independent, bookseller.

Updated January 16, 2008

Introductory Works

The Spiral Dance, by Starhawk -- one of the most prominent leaders of earth-based spirituality; this must-have guide to the Craft is both a poetic and practical resource for anyone.

Witch Crafting by Phyllis Curott--though it lacks an index that would make it much easier to use, this work on Wiccan spirituality is elegantly written and very well thought-out.

Paganism:  an Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions by Joyce and River Higginbotham-- a clear and inclusive introduction (with a small glossary, study questions, and exercises) that’s especially suitable for UU Pagans.

When Someone You Love is Wiccan:  A Guide to Witchcraft and Paganism for Concerned Friends, Nervous Parents, and Curious Co-Workers by Carl McColman--a well-written, concise, and readable salve for anyone who doesn't understand what we’re up to--and a comforting piece to read when you’re tired of being misunderstood/searching for the right words to explain yourself!  McColman looks at many of the aspects that tend to freak out non-Pagans, including our vocabulary and symbolism, the concepts of good vs. evil, rumors about illegal, kinky, and flat-out dangerous practices, as well as what we actually do believe and our various “denominations.”

Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions by Starhawk, Diane Baker, and Anne Hill, is a well-grounded, easy-to-use, and unique guide to parenting children (of all ages) that embodies truly meaningful celebrations of the seasons, rites of passage, and ideas for creating personalized family traditions.  Even Earth-lovers who don’t consider themselves Pagan will find useful, fun, and creative activities in every chapter.

Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft, by Raven Grimassi -- this hefty, nearly 500-page piece includes some valuable appendices about such things as Pagan organizations and publications, as well as entries about Pagan history, theology, ritual verses & tools, famous practitioners, and more.

Rites of Worship:  A Neopagan Approach by Isaac Bonewits--this clever, humorous, and experienced expert (primarily Druidic/Wiccan) offers many insightful and philosophical tips for getting the most out of a ritual. 

Celtic Myth and Magick, by Edain McCoy--a hefty and well-written Llewellyn book that includes chants, recipes, a large dictionary of male and female deities (cross-referenced, no less), a glossary, index, and many resources.

Animal-Speak:  the Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small, by Ted Andrews -- though published by Llewellyn and bordering at times on superstition, this one is an accessible look at Native American symbolism.

Wicca:  A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, by Scott Cunningham -- One of the best of the “basic” introductions to Paganism and Witchcraft.

To Ride a Silver Broomstick, New Generation Witchcraft, by Silver RavenWolf -- a modernist take on American Witchcraft. 

The Pagan Book of Living and Dying: Practical Rituals, Prayers, Blessing, and Meditations on Crossing Over by Starhawk, M. Macha Nightmare & The Reclaiming Collective -- Recommended as an essential household book, this book provides rituals to help you during life's changes, both positive and negative.

A Kitchen Witch's Cookbook by Patricia Telesco -- This doesn't fit easily into either "beginner" or "advanced," but into the category of "tasty." It describes magical attributes to cooking ingredients and instruments, plus celebration associations. There is a lot of folklore added to which makes it a fun read, even if you're not into cooking. Telesco also has a more recent publication called The Kitchen Witch Companion: Simple and Sublime Culinary Magic which is smaller than the first book, and may not be quite as good.

“Advanced” Pagan Books

Pagans and Christians, The Personal Spiritual Experience, by Gus diZerega -- Both a defense of Paganism and a conversation about its relationship with Christianity.

Drawing Down the Moon, by Margot Adler -- NPR correspondent Margot Adler chronicles the Pagan movement from festivals to elementary theology.  Along with the Spiral Dance, Drawing Down the Moon is the definitive text for the American Witchcraft movement.

Triumph of the Moon, by Ronald Hutton -- British historian Ronald Hutton investigates the myths and legends surrounding the modern neo-Pagan community.  His controversial conclusions, and inspiring prose, represent the best of neo-Pagan scholarship.  Hutton also has many other books on Pagan and Celtic history, all of which are recommended.

Witchcraft For Tomorrow, by Doreen Valiente -- one of the second generation witches to follow after Gardner, Valiente has given us much of the poetry, spellwork, and theological framework (such as it is) for modern Witchcraft.

The Witches’ Bible, by Janet and Stewart Farrar -- the Farrars were another group that broke off from Gardner in the early days.  This book is perhaps the closest we can get to an actual version of Gardner’s Book of Shadows without being initiated.

The Pickingill Papers, by W.E. Liddell and Michael Howard -- Michael Howard is a British writer who has done a lot of work on uncovering the “original” Witches.  This is one take on a historical Witch who was not associated with Gardner.

Wiccan Roots: Gerald Gardner and the Modern Witchcraft Revival by Philip Heselton. Heselton, along with Michael Howard, is one of the key scholars of traditional Witchcraft. His biography and analysis of Gardner and his movement is one of the important historical works on early Witchcraft.

The Roebuck in the Thicket, by Evan John Jones and Robert Cochrane -- Cochrane founded a line of traditional Witchcraft different from Gardner’s. 

West Country Wicca, by Rhiannon Ryall -- Another counterpoint to both the Gardnerian and its derivative American traditions.

The Lancashire Witches: Histories and Stories, by Robert Poole -- Scholars have pretty much debunked much of the mythology surrounding the “burning times” and the concept of a surviving Pagan religion.  This is an interesting, particular, and sympathetic look at one set of witch persecutions. 

Do What Thou Wilt, A Life of Aleister Crowley, by Lawrence Sutin -- One of two good biographies that have been published recently.  Crowley’s ideas underlie much of modern occultism, including Witchcraft and neo-Paganism.  It gives you a sense of the man and his work without having to wade through his actual writings. 

God Against the Gods, The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism, by Jonathan Kirsch -- Go back to a time when diversity and liberty in religious traditions were under attack from all sides. 

The Complete Magician's Tables, by Stephen Skinner -- An indispensable tool for anyone with an interest in the occult, magic, witchcraft, or Paganism. It contains hundreds of tables of everything from magical alphabets to lists of deities. It organizes magic and the occult in a way that has not been done before, and actually makes sense. Highly recommended.

Divination

Tarot Decks

As Pagans we don’t just have books, we have tools too!  Tarot decks are one tool we use, here are some recommendations.

Tarot decks in general:  There are so many from which to choose!  Robin Wood’s is attractive, traditional, and among the most easily-interpreted by beginners, Mother Peace is simply beautiful, and the Rider-Waite deck (itself available in several slightly-different editions) is considered by many to be the traditional deck, though its illustrations are very plain and vague.

Tarot for All Seasons, by Christine Jette is a compact guide, based on goddess spirituality, offering a different tarot-card layout for each Wiccan sabbat and esbat (full-Moon celebration), plus sample readings, ritual ideas, and concise interpretations of traditional tarot images.

Power Tarot, by Trish MacGregor and Phyllis Vega, is like a well-organized cookbook full of solid interpretations of traditional tarot symbolism, and includes more layouts than anyone will likely ever use.  However, it does tend to lean towards the sensationalistic and dramatic here and there, as in, “Oh--I can’t do anything without consulting the cards first,” or “All the answers are right here.”

Astrology

The Inner Sky: How to Make Wiser Choices for a More Fulfilling Life by Steven Forrest, has been suggested as a good beginning astrology book. It has been used in a well received introductory class.

Children's Books

Circle Round: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions by Starhawk is really one of the most inclusive and useful children's books. It has stories, activities, and good explanations of Goddess traditions. Recommended.

 Paganism: an Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions by Joyce and River Higginbotham also has something fun and thought-provoking for everyone--it’s kind of like a how-to manual and a workbook rolled into one. It would be appropriate for older kids, or something thoughtful to get for that teenager who is interested in Paganism and Wicca.

In case you want more music for Pagan kids (and adults), Songs for Earthlings: a Green Spirituality Songbook, compiled and edited by Julie Forest Middleton--it includes a huge variety of user-friendly music and lyrics for every occasion. Even if you just read the lyrics, you'll find inspiration, healing, and insight.

...and if you’re interested in Pagan works that speak directly to teens--an interesting title would be The Thundering Years: Rituals and Sacred Wisdom for Teens by Julie Tallard Johnson.

 

 

 

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