When you’re starting out, there are many books from many authors who want to guide you or welcome you into being a witch. Unfortunately, most of what is available today that is not culturally specific is either woefully incomplete and/or focused almost entirely on the self with no reciprocation with the forces of Nature one wishes to work with. I say most because I simply haven’t seen one yet. Very few of the books I have found on western magick place any importance on offerings or even conscious alignment deeds. There is also a lot of invoking of beings one does not really know, and other dangerously cavalier practices.
One of the reasons I wrote the Witchcraft 101 series was to fill this gap for those who did not have the luxury of being connected to a living traditional system with a long unbroken line. So as I present this list of works that, though some may be hobbled by the usual western blindness, are better than average, please do not neglect the steps in Witchcraft 101 or slack off because you are incorporating new knowledge. As you read these books, try not to be too offended by practical magick being sometimes referred to as “low magick”, or traditional or non western systems being referred to as “primitive” or “simpler”. Most of the writers simply don’t have enough cultural exposure to compare anything, or simply were not privy to the details and are allowed to go on with their assumptions.
Primal Magick for Beginners by Morgana Greene
A short “crash course” type set of drills to get you familiarized with working your own energy. It’s a good place to start, but just remember this is the beginning of the journey.
Witchcraft: Theory and Practice by Ly de Angeles
This is an excellent starter manual for Wiccans that doesn’t just open you up and leave you hanging. By the time you finish this book, if you’ve taken it chapter by chapter and done the exercises, you will be a functioning witch. It is very empowering, pulls no punches, and approaches many concepts about Wicca that are often misinterpreted or twisted to fit predatory aims.
Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts by Donald Michael Kraig
It’s basically Kabbalah/Golden Dawn for beginners. It is meant to be used as a textbook, not as a stand-alone guide. For this purpose, it is okay. I did not need all the interjections of judgement on different schools of magick and spiritual practice, but it was less horrifyingly insufficient with regards to knowledge and training recommendations than most.
A teacher could use this as a textbook for beginner witches who don’t already have a tradition. It may also be useful to fill in the gaps some traditional witches have who came from religious backgrounds that didn’t explain the reasoning for some spiritual activities and practices. There is guidance for focusing, meditation, visualization, and elemental drilling.
If you are African American, you should also read:
An excellent introduction to African diaspora mysticism, conjure, and spirituality. I don’t want to say too much because most of it has already been said. It’s a good read. It’s extremely useful for those who didn’t have that aunt or that grandma to guide them through the basics. It will inspire you to adopt one though because you’ll see what you’ve been missing. In a way, Luisah Teish is all of our conjuring auntie. Read it, then join the online communities of those who’ve read it.
Grasping the Root of Divine Power: A spiritual healer’s guide to African culture, Orisha religion, OBI divination, spiritual cleanses, spiritual growth and development, ancient wisdom, and mind power by HRU Yuya Assaan-ANU
This is the book. Jambalaya is good too, but this is going to be your handbook if you’re going to be doing more than a devotional altar in the corner and mixing some condition oils here and there. That stuff is good and important, but this will prepare you for battle. This is why all flavors in the sky of constellations of Africana gender are needed. This is the FIRE.
While we’re on that, though it’s not so much a beginner book as it is a sort of Queer specific exploration of various belief systems and practices, I recommend Queer Magic, by Tomás Prower. It’ll be good for you if you need this. It’s obvious for some where the atypical folks are in the craft (almost everywhere), but depending on your community and how much it is actually supported and not kind of erased in the “I don’t see orientation” said with the same tone as “I don’t see color”.
I hope this is helpful to those starting out. Also see Arden Keren’s video with their recommendations for beginners.
Blessings on your journey! Ashé!