3 August 2011

Literature

Should someone stumble here who is not very familiar with western occult tradition, they might be interested in sources to get started with. While I don't really follow the teachings of any particular author, there are works that I have over the years found helpful in beginning to build up a little background knowledge of the field. I'll try to list some of them here, by category.

Some will be more beginner friendly than others. I cannot really say what the best curriculum would be for a complete newbie, it is all so very personal. All I can say is: read whatever you can get your hands on, and think about the stuff you're reading, and how it fits in with your own experience of the world. I personally began with study of Wicca, and then expanded to qabalistic texts and other traditions. Wicca may be one of the easier introductions to occult tradition, but, being primarily a religion, it is obviously not suited for everyone.

Wikipedia is of course a priceless resource for the beginner. (Take a look at the Occult portal for various articles.)

Wicca

  • Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham. A simple, almost New Age-y introduction to Wiccan philosophy. Possibly not very useful in the long run, but a good, light weight starting point for someone interested in neopaganism.
  • Eight Sabbats for Witches and The Witches' Way by Janet and Stewart Farrar. Not quite as approachable as Cunningham, perhaps, but a must for anyone serious about Wicca, or interested in more traditional Wicca. (Collected as A Witches' Bible.)

Qabalah and Hermeticism

  • The Witches Qabala by Ellen Cannon Reed. While written from a neopagan/Wiccan point of view, this is a pretty good, light introduction to the Tree of Life.
  • The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie. This is the primary source on the teachings of the Golden Dawn tradition, but by no means very beginner friendly.
  • The Book of Thoth by Aleister Crowley. While being primarily a book on tarot, it also contains some good introductory material on qabalah. None of Crowley's writings are very easy, though.

Chaos Magick

  • Oven-Ready Chaos by Phil Hine. This short ebook is available for download from Hine's website, along with other works. A good, simple introduction to the Chaos Magick philosophy.

Historical Texts

  • The Lesser Key of Solomon. Probably the number one historical work on demonology and evocation. I have a version edited by Joseph H. Peterson, which I quite like. But pdf versions can be found online as well.
  • The Greater Key of Solomon. An interesting text, but of less practical value, I think, than the Lesser Key. Its most interesting feature is probably the description of various magickal weapons, and their markings.
  • Three Books of Occult Philosophy by Henry Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim. A mammoth work, and fascinating to read, but I've found relatively little material in it that would have been of practical value. The version edited by Donald Tyson has many good notes and appendices. (The only pdf version I've run into is almost useless, I'm afraid.)

Miscellaneous

  • Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham. A handy resource.
  • Principia Discordia by Malaclypse the Younger and Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst. Not really a book on occultism, but one I think every occultist should read. Versions can be found online.
  • The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey. I think it is good to get acquainted with as many traditions as possible. Even if I don't necessarily agree with all of LaVey's ideas, there are some good points and food for thought there (and it's not really quite as 'evil' as some may think).

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