The idea of witches and the practice of witchcraft has always been unsettling to someone who comes from a society steeped in superstition. The widespread notion in Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh is that when you encounter a woman roaming around in the dark, you should inspect her feet to see if they’re facing in the opposite direction of her body and then run away.
Many of my childhood superstitions were essentially manifestations of a deeper anxiety that only dawned on me much later in life. Fear of a strong woman is at play here. You could say that Sabrina the Teenage Witch was my first true introduction to witches beyond the world of superstition, as her aunts drop in on her when she has her first levitation, signifying the beginning of her journey. In the first episode.
This was an epiphany for me after seeing it. I was taken aback by Sabrina’s normalcy as well as her hidden identity. She had a lot of the same issues as I did, except for the fact that she was a teenage witch, and yet she made me feel less alone in the maelstrom of young adulthood.
As a result of watching Charmed, my understanding of witchcraft had already advanced to the point where I would stand in front of the mirror to summon my inner power. Watching the three sisters unite in strength aroused a savagery in me that had previously been foreign to me, despite the fact that these clearly PG-rated shows were being shown to me. If you couldn’t believe it, the Halliwell sisters fought off demons you couldn’t have imagined. The disintegration of their powers and ingenuity made the idea of witchcraft feel more accessible.
It wasn’t long before my interest in television turned to reading. It wasn’t until I read Practical Magic for the first time that I felt that surge of excitement again, even though I had been interested by the books available to me. Since then, I’ve devoured a slew of witchy books, from Witches of New York to Stacy Schiff’s The Witches, which chronicles the Salem Witch Trials.
My understanding of witchcraft has changed over time because of the books I’ve read. As an honorary witch, I am the first to prepare tea to heal a broken heart and eagerly await the full moon’s arrival. Even though I don’t practice as much as I’d like, I do consider myself a witch.
This is a list of some of the books that have formed my understanding of what it means to be a witch, and some of the greatest starting books to help you get started. Even though I’ve categorized witchcraft into four major groups, my list is by no means complete. However, let’s brew some brew.
Neo-pagans are those who follow the Wiccan tradition, which dates back to pre-Catholicism. There are various Wiccan activities, including tarot cards, aura cleansing, and crystals, but the principle “Harm None” remains at the heart of them all. Their faith is based on personal spiritual experiences and rituals rather than a formal organization. This is remarkably similar to the advice given by the Owen women in their Practical Magic books over the years. In Witches of New York, the three of witches open their business with the same intention, only to have fate change their minds. If this is where your interests lay, then here is where you may start.
The Penguin Book of Witches by Katherine Howe
Learn about your past. If you’re interested in learning more about Wicca, it’s crucial to know where it came from and how it evolved. All of the Salem Witch Trials materials featured in this book are introduced by the author and explained in light of their relevance to modern witches.
Witches of America by Alex Mar
Hear from someone who has practiced oneself. Alex Mar takes readers on a five-year journey through her memoir. From the 1950s to the present, she provides a comprehensive look into modern paganism and explains its principles in a way that is easy to understand. When you feel you are ready to go on to something more sophisticated, orient yourself to Lisa Chamberlain’s works.
Brujería is the term for the kind of witchcraft rituals in Latin and Afro-Caribean countries. Individuals are the focus of the system, rather than a hierarchy or society, and are referred to as Brujos (male), Brujas (female), and Brujx (male) (gender-neutral). Health, prosperity, and family are just a few of the things they may manipulate with the help of nature. A family of brujas is featured in Labyrinth Lost and Cemetery Boys, two stories about necromancers. If you’ve already read and enjoyed these works and want to learn more about them, check out the guides below.
Witchery: Embrace the Witch Within by Juliet Diaz
When it comes to witchcraft, Juliet Diaz is unmatched, and this book is no exception. Despite this, it is unique in its emphasis on the earliest stages of the process. It goes over several techniques of accessing power and employing intuition, as well as using a suite of conventional instruments such as crystals, tarot, herbs, candles, and spells. Seasons and holidays are also shown, along with tips on how to make the most of them for your practice. It’s the ideal starting point for any Brujx.
Witchcraft and Welfare: Spiritual Capital and the Business of Magic in Modern Puerto Rico by Raquel Romberg
You need to know your own background before embarking on a new spiritual path. These Puerto Rican Brujos, known as “spiritual entrepreneurs,” are able to help clients while also consulting the spirits and law. Using a variety of trance, dancing, magic, and healing techniques, they’ve had success with anything from child custody victories to upskilling corporate executives. For a practitioner of Brujx, Raquel Romberg examines how the tradition originated from popular Catholicism, Afro-Latin religions, French Spiritism, and folk Protestantism, and how this has influenced both the discussion and the environment.
Because of its misuse in popular culture, Voodoo is possibly the most misunderstood technique out there. This wonderful piece, Why Can’t Black Witches Get Some Respect in Popular Culture?, demonstrates this. There are two types of voodoo, Haitian and New Orleans, and they are both based on old spirits and saints. These are behaviors aimed at promoting health and wellness. This is how to get started if you have read Tananarive Due’s The Good House and want to learn more.
Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica by Zora Neale Hurston
Let Me Hear Your Voice is a memoir of a journey by Hurston in the 1930s. Hurston’s enlightened perspective may make this travelogue a strange introduction to the practice of voodoo, but the first-hand narrative of her involvement in these practices raises our experience to another level. This is an essential contribution since she vividly depicts the habits, traditions, and superstitions of the area.
This is the group that draws something from every tradition to make it into their own. Everything is fair game, from herbs and tea leaves to tarot cards and astrology. Books like Witches of New York and Garden Spells might serve as a springboard for your own creative explorations.
The Green Witch: Your Complete Guide to the Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, and More by Arin Murphy-Hiscock
This is an excellent introduction to a particular school of witchcraft that emphasizes the need of establishing spiritual ties with the natural world. Green Witches practice alone, while Wiccans practice in groups. This book provides a clear contrast between the two practices. It explains how a Green Witch might be used in conjunction with a variety of religious and spiritual practices. The author’s approach to incorporating plants into your practice is both scientifically and environmentally sound. Regardless of how you choose to practice, this is a terrific introductory resource to have on hand.
Psychic Witch: A Metaphysical Guide to Meditation, Magick & Manifestation by Mat Auryn
Consider brushing up on your knowledge of metaphysical energy as an alternative if you don’t want to commit to any particular tradition. When it comes to the metaphysical structure of human energetic bodies, cosmology, and psychic senses, Mat Auryn is a pioneer in his field. For each sensation, he describes it and provides exercises that will help you become more aware of it. He then goes on to explain the various layers of auras and energy in an easy-to-understand manner for those who are new to the subject. It adds a depth of mysticism to the practice of witchcraft beyond rituals and covens, making it fascinating to watch.