The demise of vampires is upon us – it’s time for the era of the witch!
The demise of vampires is upon us – it’s time for the era of the witch!
Whether you’re looking for a fictional fix after watching Sabrina, a real-life incantation or an education in practical magic, these 13 books showcase the world of witchcraft.
Craft: How to be a Modern Witch by Gabriela Herstik
Modern witch Gabriela Herstik has created a beginner’s guide to witchcraft – the ideal lifestyle guide for those new to the occult. This empowering compendium will teach you how to connect with nature, understand the lunar cycles, and embrace tarot and astrology. Whether it is self-care or steering away from toxic energy, this book is for new witches who want to assert control over their lives.
The Little Book of Pocket Spells by Akasha Moon
This little book is perfectly bag-sized for those moments when, like Sabrina, you want to whip out a spell or two and cast an enchantment over a mortal enemy. Packed with tips to bring a little magic into your everyday life, there are spells to calm you though difficult situations, potions and brews to lift the blues and even an extra special incantation that is said to add some magic to your love life.
The Penguin Book of Witches edited by Katherine Howe
Take a unique and compelling tour through the dark history of witchcraft with this anthology that covers the real-life events of the witchcraft movement throughout Europe and America. It also includes a manual for witch hunters penned by King James and papers from the infamous Salem witch trials, documenting the realities of the legendary stories.
The Complete Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm
Wicked witches are abound in Grimm’s fairy tales, lurking in woods, casting spells and generally scaring the bejesus out of generations of children and adults the world over. These are the stories that conjured ideas of witches for a million childish imaginations, and have inspired generations of writers and artists since the Grimm brothers first collected them. Violent, funny, disturbing and wise, you don’t know witches until you’ve read Grimm.
Swansong by Kerry Andrew
Polly Vaughan is trying to escape the ravaging guilt of a night out in London gone horribly wrong. She arrives in the Scottish Highlands and finds, along with drink, drugs and sex, a fresh kind of fear. Soon she is having visions, or visitations – seeing floating white shapes in the loch, finding feathers on her pillow, and feeling a familiar voice reaching to her from beyond the grave. Kerry Andrew uses her expert knowledge of folklore, mythology and witchcraft to bring us face-to-face with the haunted wilderness of the Highlands.
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Pullman’s epic fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials is acclaimed as a modern classic. It begins in Northern Lights where we meet Lyra, a carefree orphan who lives in a parallel reality where science, theology and magic entwine. Finding herself embroiled in a sinister plot, Lyra embarks on a quest where she encounters armoured polar bears, magical devices, witches and daemons. Fans of the fantastical were thrilled when The Book of Dust, set ten years before Northern Lights, was released in 2017 after years of speculation. But wherever you want to start, Lyra’s world is a magical one that will captivate young and old.
Witchcraft: A Ladybird Expert Book by Suzannah Lipscomb
An entertaining introduction into the history of witchcraft, this book looks back in time to the moment witches were thought to be at their most perilous: during the witch hunts and trials from 1450 - 1750. This pocket book is beautifully illustrated and features the first new illustrations produced in the original Ladybird style for nearly forty years. Written by historian Suzannah Lipscomb, Witchcraft is part of the Ladybird Expert series.
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Margarita is the heroine of Bulgakov’s weird and wonderful masterpiece and surely every white witch’s poster-girl – an inspiring example of how to be loyal, loving and selfless even while hosting a party for murderers, traitors, madmen and seducers. Margarita may be clever, beautiful and rich but she is married to a man she doesn’t love, and the man she does love has abandoned her. When an extraordinary stranger gives her a miraculous ointment, Margarita is transformed and flies away over Moscow on a broomstick, invisible and free. To find out what happens next you must attend the Devil’s midnight ball…
The Odyssey by Homer (Translation by Robert Fitzgerald)
Circe is the daughter of the ancient sun god Helios, goddess of magic and expert herbalist. She appears in many Greek myths but most famously in Homer’s version of the tale of Odysseus and his wandering journey home from the war on Troy. On the run from a fierce race of giants, Odysseus and his men pitch up on a remote island and discover a mysterious stone hall surrounded by wolves and mountain lions that are tame as dogs. They also discover a beautiful woman:
‘Low she sang
in her beguiling voice, while on her loom
she wove ambrosial fabric sheer and bright,
by that craft known to the goddesses of heaven.’
Circe tricks and drugs a group of the sailors, turning them into pigs, but Odysseus is forewarned and protected against her spell. He’s not immune to her offer to sleep with him though, and thus Odysseus and his band of brothers lose a spellbound year in Circe’s magic hall, feasting on ‘roast meats and ruddy wine’. Note: no information is supplied by Homer as to which herbs turn men into swine.
The Devils of Loudun by Aldous Huxley
The Devils of Loudun is Aldous Huxley’s account of Urbain Grandier, a Jesuit priest who was burnt at the stake after being found guilty of making a pact with the devil and seducing an entire convent of nuns – an event which really happened in a small town in France in 1634. In reality, Grandier had never even seen the nuns in question, and was only guilty of making powerful political enemies. The Brave New World author was interested in the more mystical side of the story, the idea of demonic possession as a form of self-transcendence. Grandier died bravely, refusing a false confession and refusing even to denounce his accusers – a square in Loudun bears his name to this day.
The Sandcastle by Iris Murdoch
When a young woman named Rain Carter arrives at a school to paint a portrait, Bill Mor, a quiet schoolmaster finds himself sinking into a deep infatuation. His daughter Felicity is upset, and knowing herself to be a psychic and a witch, performs some witchcraft of her own invention. This ‘direst of rites’ which involves a purifying swim, blood-letting and a floating fire is an intense expression of teenage feelings of otherness. And unfortunately does little except to irritate her mother.
The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter
Angela Carter reimagined traditional fairy tales in this book of seductive, gothic short stories. As violent, dark and weird as the originals, Carter’s heroines are much more fascinating and resourceful. Instead of young and helpless, or old and witchy, the women in these stories subvert convention. In The Bloody Chamber, when a young woman realises she has married a man who has tortured and murdered his previous wives, rescue comes in an unexpected, female form.
The Book of Magic: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment by Brian Copenhaver
Written by one of the world’s foremost scholars on Renaissance magic and mysticism, The Book of Magic is an anthology of ancient magic in the west. From incantations to spells, curses and charms, The Book of Magic even contains some medieval works once thought of as too dangerous to open!