Best Old Witchcraft Books: 10 on Magic, Lore and More
There’s something about an old book that captures the imagination. There are hundreds of old witchcraft books, but for this article, I have compiled a list of my favorites. Put these old witchcraft books on your to-read list. Find them in vintage condition on Amazon, Etsy or Ebay. If you’re lucky, you’ll find them at a thrift store or yard sale. However these books reach you, they all have a unique message. Witchcraft before the age of technology was another creature unto itself. Go back in time, unwind, and cast a spell or two. You’ll find that witchcraft before Google was quite different.
Old Witchcraft Books for Your Library
Since times are a’changing, you will find some of these titles in paperback AND e-book version. However, some are out-of-print and aren’t easily found. I recommend doing a basic google search for any title you’re interested in and go from there.
1. Crone’s Book of Magical Words
The Crone’s Book of Magical Words by Valerie Worth was a book of poems, according to the author herself. However, open the cover to the first page and it’s a book of enchantments – incantations, spells, and charms for any witch to use. The first edition was published in 1971, and other editions were printed in 1999 and 2000. I came across this old witchcraft book in the early 2000’s, in my late teen years. I found it in a bookstore, and because I was broke back then, I copied down as many of the spells and charms as I could.
A Charm for Every Intention
This witchy book gives a “charm” or a magical enchantment for nearly every purpose under the sun. Everything from pleasing household spirits to curing a wart. Valerie Worth offers her readers folk magic for healing, protecting, and even cursing. As they say “a witch cannot heal if she cannot curse”. There’s a charm to summon the rain and folk magic alchemy to turn pebbles into jewels. Whether you try these enchantments or not is irrelevant, as the book itself is an intriguing read and is the perfect addition to any witch’s library.
2. Power of the Witch
Power of the Witch by Laurie Cabot was the first witchcraft book I read as a teen. I stumbled upon it in a thrift store in the early 2000’s and bought it immediately. The author, Laurie Cabot, is the Official Witch of Salem and has been part of the witchcraft community for over sixty years. She wrote Power of the Witch in the 1980’s. Power of the Witch is an introduction to the Old Religion, as Cabot calls it. She writes of the ancient history of witchcraft, the stigma around the religion, then goes into brief chapters on herbs, crystals, protection magic, meditation, and more.
A Qualified Witch and Writer
This book offers a promising outlook and perspective on modern witchcraft. Keep in mind that not only is Laurie Cabot the Official Witch of Salem, but she established her own tradition and has even taught classes on the science of witchcraft at colleges in the state of MA. Laurie Cabot is a qualified writer on the occult and this old witchcraft book is one to own.
3. Ozark Magic and Folklore
Ozark Magic and Folklore by Vance Randolph was written in the 1940’s. The book is a compilation of Old Wives Tales, folk magic, and legends from the Ozarks in the early twentieth century. This book will take you into the heart of the Ozarks with stories about witches, shapeshifters, granny women, medicine men, water witches, and more! Dozens of Ozark Mountain residents lent their stories to this book in the early twentieth century. Vance traveled around and collected their orations and put them to print.
Granny Women and Conjure Men
There is an entire chapter on witches, as well as grannies and conjure men. Pick up a copy of this folk magic book and use it as a reference, or try some of the antidotes within. Either way, a great read and perfect addition to an American witch’s bookshelf.
4. An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present
Something about this book transports me to another place and time. I’ve had visionary flashbacks while reading parts of An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present by Doreen Valiente. This book was written in the 1970’s by a woman who was a witch herself. The best old witchcraft books are written by witches. Valiente was knowledgeable on many occult topics. An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present reads like a short encyclopedia. Find vintage copies of this book online through sites like Amazon, Ebay, and Etsy.
In this witchcraft book, the following topics are cleverly defined: mandrake root, Gerald Gardner, Baphomet, fairies, Aleister Crowley, folk magic, and more. An enchanting and interesting read and a must-have.
5. American Witch Stories
Last but not least is the American Witch Stories compiled by Hubert J. Davis in the 1940’s. This work compiles stories about witches in the Appalachian Mountains in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Apparently the stories were gathered in the 1940’s and kept in the Virginia Archives, and in the 1970’s the stories were compiled and printed as this book. Some stories are difficult to read, because they are quoted from Appalachian people with a strong mountain dialect.
Enjoy reading stories of witchballs, curses, shapeshifting cats, and more. If you’ve ever been interested in Appalachian folk magic and folklore, this is an old witchcraft book to have on hand. Again, use it as a reference or to inspire your practice!
6. Celebrate the Earth by Laurie Cabot
Another classic by Laurie Cabot, Celebrate the Earth winds its way through the Wiccan Wheel of the Year in a simple yet profound way. This is another old witchcraft book that I’ve owned for nearly twenty years and pull it back out whenever I’m planning a sabbat ritual, meal, or family events. Each sabbat is incredibly detailed – the origins, lore, old traditions and new, a full ritual tutorial, as well as magical correspondences, foods, and gods. A must-have for any witch’s vintage library.
7. Fire in the Head by Tom Cowan
If you’re interested in the spiritual ways of the Celts, Tom Cowan will take you on a journey into the shamanic practices of this ancient culture in his work Fire in the Head. This particular book speaks to the otherworldly beliefs and traditions that our Celtic ancestors might have practiced including ecstatic experience, faith healing, journeys into other realms, shapeshifting and the “web of life”. Truly one of the books that changed my perspective on ancestral spirituality.
8. Aradia: Gospel of Witches by Charles Leland
A highly controversial book written in 1899 by Charles Godfrey Leland, Aradia: Gospel of the Witches is a sacred witchcraft text detailing the uprising of Italian peasants. And how they overthrew their oppressors with the aid of witchcraft and an incarnate goddess named Aradia. I say it’s controversial because scholars debate its authenticity, as do modern witches and pagans who have read the book. However, I feel it’s an empowering and beautiful read whether or not the historical fact is there.
9. Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry by William Butler Yeats
WB Yeats was a folklorist, writer, and occultist who had a particular interest in documenting old Irish lore. This book, Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, is one of my all-time essentials on the fae so I had to list it here. If you really want to have a taste of what the Irish folk believed in a hundred years ago, this is the book to read. You’ll learn more about the faery folk in older folklore books than in any of the new age books these days. You can typically even get this book for free online or as an ebook.
10. The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology by Rossell Hope Robbins
I know some witches shy away from learning anything about the Witch Trials from the past, but for me, it’s fascinating and completely engrossing. Even when the authors are speaking negatively about witchcraft and witches in general, there’s still a lot to be learned and gleaned from these books. In fact, I let some of the topics like familiars, shapeshifting, and flying ointments inspire my current practice. I don’t shy away from witchcraft’s shadows. I embrace ALL of the craft and learn from it. You should too.
More Old Witchcraft Books on Spells, Folk Magic, and Folklore
This list is not exhaustive. There are hundreds of old witchcraft books to read. If you’d like to find more vintage witchcraft books, check out our Pinterest Board: The Witches Library. There are over FIVE HUNDRED new and old witchcraft books to choose from! Don’t forget to browse the vintage witchcraft book collection on Etsy and Ebay. Vintage and antique versions are typically available for a higher fee. Now, get to readin’ and witchin’!
More Book Lists to Check Out:
- 9 Books for the Egyptian Witch
- Celtic Witch Books: Mythology, Fairies and More
- HUGE List of Traditional Witchcraft Books