Witch Books Hold Power

The number of books on witchcraft has been on the rise for the past several years, but mind-body-spirit publishers now offer an eclectic mix of authors who draw magic from a range of sources—from ancient times to modern trends, and from distant lands and to backyard herb gardens. Among upcoming titles are ones featuring recipes (think cocktails or cannabis), spell collections ready for casting, handbooks, known as grimoires, for those just tiptoeing into the realm of enchantment, and more. What they have in common is the alluring promise of empowerment, whether to enrich your own life or change the world.

Running Press taps into continued interest in witchcraft with several titles, including The Night School: Lessons in Moonlight, Magic, and the Mysteries of Being Human (Aug. 9) by Maia Toll, author of the bestselling Wild Wisdom series. Toll uses the literary technique of presenting a narrator, the Night Mistress, “to introduce readers to an expansive selection of mystical subjects, from philosophy and divination to astrology and alchemy,” says Shannon Fabricant, executive editor for the Hachette imprint. Other Running Press titles also geared toward beginners include Potions: A Guide to Cocktails, Tinctures, Tisanes, and Other Witchy Concoctions (Aug. 23) by Nikki Van De Car, the author of Practical Magic: A Beginner’s Guide to Crystals, Horoscopes, Psychics, and Spells. The new book is an illustrated collection of rituals and recipes. Lastly, How to Study Magic: A Guide to History, Lore, and Building Your Own Practice (Oct.) by Sarah Lyons teaches basic tools and techniques to “baby witches.”

Grown up readers might consider Inner Traditions’ Witch Wisdom for Magical Aging: Finding Your Power through the Changing Seasons (Aug. 16). Cait Johnson, author of six witch titles, here creates “four loving, feisty old witches,” to exemplify ways to “embrace your journey through the sacred latter half of life,” according to the publisher. Holistic Witch: A Guide to Self-care Witchcraft and Mushroom Magic are both out now from Sterling Ethos by Witchy Wisdoms online writer Shawn Engel. Executive editor Kate Zimmerman finds Engels’ books so helpful, she’s already using Engel’s recipes for spell jars—containers for holding one’s wishes and intentions—and buying toadstool-themed home accessories.

Spells galore

Everyone likes a good spell, so A Spell a Day (Watkins, June 2023) delivers 365 of them, composed by esoterica expert and Wiccan priestess Tree Carr. Mango Publishing doesn’t want you to suffer heartache when the Witch’s Book of Love Spells (Jan.), by Wiccan author Cerridan Greenleaf, can boost romance with techniques for employing moon magic, crystals, and gemstones. Greenleaf also advises on how to find peace and prosperity in The Witches Book of Candle Magic (out now). Fair Winds Press author Lidia Pradas, who offers Wiccan tips on Instagram, will teach you to write your own personalized spells in The Untamed Witch: Reclaim Your Instincts. Rewild Your Craft. Create Your Most Powerful Magick (Oct). Witch, author, and pagan podcaster Lisa McSherry includes spells among the fundamentals of witchcraft in A Witch’s Guide to Crafting Your Practice: Create a Magical Path that Works for You (Llewellyn, Oct.).

Feeling anxious (and who isn’t these days)? Weiser Books suggests several titles. Hearth and Home Witchcraft: Rituals and Recipes to Nourish Home and Spirit (Sept.) by Jennie Blonde, a pagan who calls herself the comfy cozy witch. She promotes skills for “being comfortable with your true self in all aspects of your life,” says associate publisher Peter Turner. You might rise above your worries with Weed Witch: The Essential Guide to Cannabis for Magic and Wellness (Apr.) by Sophie Saint Thomas, who has expertise in blending witchcraft and cannabis, so any reader can “reach your highest self,” according to the publisher. Or you could make life beautiful with another Saint Thomas upcoming title, Glamour Witch: Conjuring Style and Grace to Get What You Want (Jan.) with “sex-positive” spells and beauty tips for all budgets and body types according to the author. “Vanity is not a sin,” she writes, extolling the power to be found in costume, fashion, makeup, and “glamour magick tools.”

But stocking up on witchcraft power tools is not essential because, “Our bathroom mirrors are as prophetic as any crystal ball,” say Risa Dickens and Amy Torok, the authors of New Moon Magic: 13 Anti-Capitalist Tools for Resistance and Re-enchantment (North Atlantic, May 2023), who take a disenchanted view of enchantment marketing. They introduce their book of new moon rituals and interviews with modern witches by pointing out: “Witchcraft is a multi-billion-dollar industry. You can get crystals, wands, and potions made by children and delivered by drones. But you don’t need to. You can support local artisans and buy only fair-mined stones, but that assumes privilege too. This book was written to remind us all that we have identities and power beyond consumption. And we don’t need to buy a single thing to connect with our own phenomenal magic.”

Cultural sources for sorcery

Folk magic and witchcraft know no boundaries of time and culture. The newest entry in Llewellyn’s Complete Books series is Llewellyn’s Complete Book of North American Folk Magic: A Landscape of Magic, Mystery and Tradition (Apr.) by Cory Thomas Hutcheson, an expert in folklore, religion, and ethnicity who presents the work of 25 practitioners from coast to coast. According to acquisitions editor Heather Greene, “seekers are looking for depth of meaning in old places, diving into history, classical practice, and occult philosophy in order to individualize and truly connect or feel their own spiritual experience.” She also points to Modern Witchcraft with the Greek Gods: History, Insights & Magickal Practice (Dec.) by pagan witches Jason Mankey and Astrea Taylor, who detail the origins and powers of Greek deities and the mythological Titans before offering techniques for calling on their powers today.

Weiser Books offers Mexican Sorcery: A Practical Guide to Brujeria de Rancho (Feb.) by Laura Davila, a “ranch witch.” Her skills in healing and divination come from a Mexican folk-Catholic spiritual tradition “about which there is almost nothing previously published,” says Turner. He says it’s accessible to Pagans, non-Catholics, and practitioners of Hoodoo and Conjure.”

Hoodoo, originally practiced by enslaved African Americans in the American south, has been gaining attention. Hoodoo for Everyone: Modern Approaches to Magic, Conjure, Rootwork, and Liberation (North Atlantic, Aug. 23), is “magic for people who seek liberation and healing, for those who have been hurt, misunderstood, or cast aside,” according to the publisher. Author Sherry Shone, who describes herself as a Black, Lesbian Hoodoo worker, writes that anyone can practice Hoodoo “if they are respectful of the tradition, the history, and themselves.”

Respect has always been hard to come by for witches. “Women are still today being killed in Africa, India, and elsewhere after being accused of witchcraft,” says Turner. Weiser is releasing Heal the Witch Wound: Reclaim Your Magic and Step into Your Power (Apr.) by pagan witch Celeste Larse. She stresses healing and self-confidence to overpower the “collective, intergenerational, spiritual wound that continues to keep people afraid of expressing their own magic and power,” according to Turner.

Beyond personal power

Today’s witches have more on their minds than spells and self-power rituals. The Modern Craft: Powerful Voices on Witchcraft Ethics (Watkins, out now) is an essay collection edited by Alice Tarbuck and Claire Askew that explores witchcraft’s social responsibilities, says publisher Fiona Robertson. The book includes spellwork for working-class and queer witches, and features a gender-fluid perspective on breaking down traditional hierarchies in magical symbolism.

Danielle Dulsky, author of The Holy Wild Grimoire: A Heathen Handbook of Magick, Spells, and Verses (New World Library, Sept.) looks to tales as true as time about life, death, and resurrection, with practices for meeting challenges, healing, and becoming a force for good, says Georgia Hughes, editorial director for NWL. The book’s rituals and practices explore the elements of air, water, fire, ether, and earth with the central idea that “by being attentive to our own place in nature, we can also begin to take action in the world for change,” Hughes says.

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