There is a meme going around where people are listing their Top 10 Occult Books From Way Back. Basically, you list the books most influential to you, especially when you were starting out. In my case, I’m also going to include a few that were highly influential in the reformation of my magical practice years ago. So without further ado:
1.) “The Necronomicon” by Simon - This is an odd one, because I never got a copy of it until about four or five years ago. What happened was that I went looking for it, found it...but also found #2, couldn’t get both, and decided for some reason to get #2 instead. But if it hadn’t been for my Lovecraft fandom at the time causing me to search for this one, I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten into magic.
2.) “Basic Magick” by Phillip Cooper - This was my de facto literary initiation into the practices of magic. The book basically teaches astral temple, sigil, and servitor work, including some secularized Golden Dawn techniques (a version of the Middle Pillar), and cosmo-self-centric/agnostic/psychological belief. It never took off that great for me, but it was my first.
3.) “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” by Scott Cunningham - Yeah, yeah, I know. But, a lot of us started this way. Aside from being one of the first I read, I always liked Cunningham’s philosophy that magic was something that the Magician/Witch themselves do, instead of placing all the focus on spirits.
4.) “To Ride a Silver Broomstick” & “To Stir a Magick Cauldron” by Silver Ravenwolf - *Sigh* Again, I know. What I’m saying is that I used to be a classic fluffy bunny, alright?
Don’t look at me like that...I got better.
But anyway, for years Silver Ravenwolf’s methods were very influential in my practices. While I came to drop her philosophies, I found some of her actual practical magical techniques of value (for example, there was a power-raising technique she taught involving cauldron imagery that I got some excellent results from using). And I’m only counting those two as one, because of reasons. :P
5.) “Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft” by Raymond Buckland - Ah, Uncle Buck! Not bad for its time and such. I got some value out of this, and actually don’t regret it.
6.) “Making Magick” by Edain McCoy - Another from my Fluffy Files. McCoy taught some basic magical techniques that I based stuff off of for a while, and was my first big intro to divining before working magic. I came to hate it, though, honestly. It sucks, the techniques are confusing, and I didn’t get results from it. Additionally, I would spend HOURS tweaking my spells on the insistence of getting a reading to come up positive for the spell itself. This was the beginning of my current approach of Divination Moderation.
7.) “Summoning Spirits” by Konstantinos - Ok, I know what you’re thinking, and yes I did hit every Llewellyn/Fluffy branch on the way down. So sue me! :P Like I said, I got better. But this book is where I had my first success at summoning a spirit. I conjured the spirit Mepsitahl from it, and she taught me a technique for enhancing spirit vision.
So that covers my first 5 years. At this point I’m going to go into books that helped re-form my spirituality and my magical practices.
8.) “Evolutionary Witchcraft” by T. Thorn Coyle - Even after I gave away all my books on Wicca and Witchcraft, I kept this one, and for good reason. From a spirituality perspective, this one helped re-school me on several things. It brought me to a holistic view of the self, the world, and spirituality in general. Not in a hippy kind of way, but a realistic, grounded way. Magically, it gave me a taste of something outside of the fluffy-dom I had mired myself in. I still highly respect the Feri Tradition.
9.) “Postmodern Magic” by Patrick Dunn - This one was a real game-changer for me. It opened my eyes wide to a world beyond JUST spirits and energy, and into Informational Sorcery, and I still go back and read it now and then.
10.) “The Sorcerer’s Secrets” by Jason Miller - Because OF COURSE I’m going to list this one here! Its an eye-opening look at techniques that fall a little outside of the Western Magical Tradition by doing the same things but with different, simpler techniques. Of the most value is the look at working with magic and mundane circumstance in tandem and weaving the two together into success. Also of value is the illustrative way Jason shows you how you can break down your practice into its parts and get the most out of it. Also? Learning to do offerings in the way he teaches is one of my most-recommended practices. This book is gold.
I wish I could say I carry no shame about any of these, but that’s not the case. Frankly, with items #4 and #6...I wish I had never found them. Ravenwolf’s books teach a shitty, entitled attitude and philosophy that far outweighs the techniques, and McCoy’s book just teaches this ineffective, confused, and frustrating approach to practical magic.
It would have been nice to have some more of the classics, even the absurd ones, given by such folks as Jason, Skyllaros, or Brother Moloch on Facebook. But that’s one of the beauties of modern day! We have access to so many of these, and fewer people are restricted to whatever tripe the local mass-consumer bookstore carries (as I was). Man, if only Amazon had been as awesome in 1999 as they are now...