Witch Tips: Starting a Magical Library

I love books so much I am making them my career as a librarian.  They are an investment of space and knowledge.  When it comes to collecting books on Paganism, Wicca, witchcraft, and related activities (tarot, herbs, etc.), there are so many to choose from on such a wide range of topics.  But if you live in an apartment or have a small income, you can’t buy every book off Amazon.  How do you proceed, though, if you really want to grow a working Pagan, Wiccan, or magical library?

  • Think of the Amount of Space You Have: I have 2 drawers in my dorm room and 1 drawer at home to store all my Pagan things.  That includes books, herbs, incense, candles, spells, etc.  Until that changes, I have to keep that set space in mind when making any purchases, especially books.  
  • Start Small:  Buy one book at a time.  Read each book and finish it before buying a new one.  This method will not only ensure you read what you have, but also keep you from over spending.
  • If Possible, Buy Local: Not every community has a local new age store.  But if you are fortunate enough to be in a town or region with access to one, it is an invaluable resource.  For one, it is good for your local economy.  Also, the more you frequent a shop, the more the staff will get to know you and perhaps can give good recommendations.
  • Amazon, etc.: Internet shopping can also be a fantastic way to obtain books.  It can also be addicting.  My big word of caution is you should do research on the book you want to buy if you have never read or seen it before.  That way, you know what you are getting.

Now, what to put in your library?  It’s maddening for me to say it’s up to you, but that is how you should work.  For example, I have never had the desire to read Silver Ravenwolf, but she may really speak to you so go ahead and buy a few of her books.  Of all of my books, here are my five favorites:

  • The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
  • Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler
  • Living Wicca by Scott Cunningham
  • The Pagan Book of Living and Dying by Starhawk
  • A Book of Pagan Prayer by Ceisiwr Serith

One piece of advice I can give is to note your buying habits. In looking at my list, you can see that I read a lot of Starhawk.  I pretty much can guarantee if I have a few dollars to spend and I’m trolling Amazon and their algorithms recommend one of her books, I will like it.  Keep a running list of your books and bring it with you to bookshops and festival gatherings.

For anyone with a large collection of Pagan, Wiccan, or magical books, do you have any additional pieces of advice?  And what are your favorite books?

© Ariadne Woods

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3 thoughts on “Witch Tips: Starting a Magical Library

  1. I would like to offer some additional pieces of advice if I may Ariadne. As far as acquiring literature for your library on the cheap, try second hand bookshops, ebay and book swaps. The option of book swaps can also help out when storage space is limited. If you prefer the tech approach then digital books are the go and also help when storage is an issue. Having said that, there is definitely something magickal to be found in hard copies 🙂

    As for Authors, here are my picks:
    Scott Cunningham
    Starhawk
    Doreen Valiente
    Christopher Penczak
    Janet & Stewart Farrar and Gavin Bone
    Margot Adler,
    Raymond Buckland
    Charles G. Leland
    Margaret Murray
    Alistair Crowley

    These particular authors have had a great influence on pagan literature to date. Other than that, their are a number of pagan authors out here that produce some incredibly entertaining and enjoyable reads 🙂

    I would also recommend looking outside of the pagan sphere for books on other topics such as history, anthropology, medicine etc.

    Blessings Ariadne

  2. I have over 200 pagan books (I just cataloged them during my spring break). That said, I’d like to share a tip.

    Look at non-pagan books, ones that never make the new age section of our bookstores. For example, I look in the social sciences and history sections for books on various cultures; sometimes a good book on the pagan movement or chanting practices falls into one of these categories based on the publisher’s labels. Also, the crafting and cooking sections can provide amazing opportunities to enrich your actual practices with culturally relevant foods or projects; try lighting a candle to Hestia that you’ve hand-dipped yourself, and you’ll agree!

  3. At one point, I had 6 five foot tall bookshelves full of Pagan books…everything from mythology to anthropology to Asatru to Gardner. When it came time to move halfway across the country the Hubby and I whittled them down to 15 books and gave the rest to a local Pagan shop’s lending room and our UU congregation’s library. The books we kept: Paganism by the Higgenbothams (its our lend-out when someone is interested in Paganism as a newbie), Drawing Down the Moon, T, Thorne Coyle’s Evolutionary Witchcraft, Starhawk’s Spiral Dance, John Michael Greer’s A World Full of Gods and The Druidry Handbook, Diane Sylvan’s The Circle Within and The Body Sacred, The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Ritual by Emma Restall Orr, Ceiswr Serith’s Book of Pagan Prayer, Eileen Holland’s Grimoire of Magical Correspondences, The Sacred Depths of Nature by Ursula Goodenough, Ecoshamanism by James Endredy, and The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell. I have a couple of other books on magic and such tucked into my stack of herbal books, and some mythologies tucked into my books on religion or history…but mostly, my Pagan bookshelf is comprised of field guides and ethnographies and anthropology books and books on physics and chemistry and biology and evolution and neuroscience and history and poetry…

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