The best books for real old-fashioned witchcraft

Who am I?

I am an Initiate of traditional British Old Craft and the Khemetic Mysteries. My own teaching methods and writing draw on historical sources supported by academic texts and current archaeological findings; endorsing Crowley’s view that all magic is an amalgam of science and art, and that magic is the outer route to the inner Mysteries. I have been a member and later Principal of the Coven of the Scales since 2000 having inherited it on the deaths of Bob and Meriem Clay-Egerton and author of some 60 fiction and non-fiction books on the subject of magic and Old Craft in order to shape the reader’s understanding of this particular tradition. 


I wrote...

Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore

By Melusine Draco,

Book cover of Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore

What is my book about?

It isn’t necessary to live by the sea to harness the power of the ocean. The tides that make themselves known to us here are an integral part of traditional witchcraft even if we live miles away from the coast.  Natural tides are what power our magic from simple spell-casting and meditation, through pathworking and ceremonial magic as we follow them through their regular cycles. 

Solar and lunar, oceanic and earth, and the more elusive atmospheric tides all contribute to our understanding of how our magic works and how we harness these energies to empower our witchcraft.  A magical journey along the seashore reveals how to draw upon the powers of the Deep and collect flotsam and jetsam for use as ritual tools.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks, and Covens

Why did I love this book?

This is the book that taught most of my generation of witches their first steps to becoming a witch. "Among those who understand the darkness which is no darkness to them anymore, are those that tread the way of witchcraft. They of their own accord have walked beyond the ring of firelight and learned the paths of the wilderness beyond." Which was heady stuff for those who wanted to learn about ‘real’ witchcraft of the time; the book having been described as one of the main motivators of the so-called ‘occult explosion’ of the 1970s and still in print today.

By Paul Huson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mastering Witchcraft as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An enduring classic since its publication in 1970, Mastering Witchcraft is one of the best how-to manuals for those wishing to practice traditional European Witchcraft as a craft rather than a New Age religion. Starting from first principles, Huson instructs the novice step by step in the arts of circle casting, blessing and banning, the uses of amulets and talismans, philters, divination, necromancy, waxen images, knots, fascination, conjuration, magical familiars, spells to arouse passion or lust, attain vengeance, and of course, counter-spells to exorcize and annul the malice of others."A genuine vade mecum."-The Catholic Herald.


Witchcraft : A Tradition Renewed

By Evan John Jones, Doreen Valiente,

Book cover of Witchcraft : A Tradition Renewed

Why did I love this book?

Evan John Jones who was once a part of Robert Cochrane’s own coven – is still one of the most controversial figures in contemporary witchcraft nearly 40 years after his death in 1966. It was an interesting time and as Evan wrote, you knew something was there, but it was a case of trying to find it and hold on to it! When this book came out in 1990 and as Evan was one of the first ‘real’ witches I had been privileged to meet, it was interesting to read many of these traditional teachings for the first time.

By Evan John Jones, Doreen Valiente,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Witchcraft as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Revealing the secrets of ancient rituals and the philosophy of witchcraft, this book delves deep into modern witchcraft. The nature of the rites are shown to revolve around traditional witchcraft passed down from ancient times.'


Book cover of The Coarse Witchcraft Trilogy

Why did I love this book?

This book is like Marmite, you either love it or hate it but it represents a small but important time-capsule of traditional British Old Craft history that we have been lucky enough to preserve for the next generation of witches. This collection of true anecdotes mirrors the goings-on within an Old Craft coven and reveals the humour and sense of the ridiculous that is part and parcel of many traditional covens that I’ve come across.

By Melusine Draco,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Coarse Witchcraft Trilogy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Coarse Witchcraft is a squint-eyed look at what passes for Craft in many modern groups and just how much of the teaching has been dumbed down so that everyone can acquire rank and have a "crack at the priesthood". This blind grope for titles, rank and public acclaim have replaced the enlightened quest for genuine wisdom and ability, while the old Witch-magic is practised by fewer and fewer of those who would call themselves Witches. There are also those who insist on being recognised as instant Adepts in a system that takes years of study and preparation - but book-learning…


Book cover of Europe's Inner Demons: The Demonization of Christians in Medieval Christendom

Why did I love this book?

I normally avoid books on historical witchcraft since they are normally written by biased academics who have never set foot in a magic Circle. This title is recognised as one of the most influential historical studies of European witchcraft beliefs; it began as an enquiry into the origins of the great European witch-hunt. It ended as something wider. It argues that the stereotype of the witch, as it existed in many parts of Europe in the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, is made up of elements of diverse origins, and that some of these derived from a specific fantasy which can be traced back to Antiquity. (1975)  Cohn argues that there never were any devil-worshipping witches in Early Modern Europe, and that all of those persecuted for being so were innocent.

By Norman Cohn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Europe's Inner Demons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a history of the irrational need to imagine witches and an investigation of how those fantasies made the persecutions of the Middle Ages possible.


Coven Working

By Philip Wright, Carrie West,

Book cover of Coven Working

Why did I love this book?

This book explains what goes on within a traditional British Old Craft coven and what is required of its members.  It is important that folk understand what is expected of them when joining an Old Craft coven and what the fundamental differences are between the various Traditions to avoid misunderstandings.  The authors are themselves veterans of Coven of the Scales having run their own hived-off group for over twenty years.

By Philip Wright, Carrie West,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Coven Working as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Coven Working explores the intricacies of the different Paths and Traditions for the benefit of those who wish to join and existing group or to set up a coven of their own.

Writing as Philip Wright and Carried West, the authors are both members of the Coven of The Scales, the magical Order formed by Bob and Meriem Clay-Egerton in the late 1980s. They have run their own coven for well over twenty years and can trace their lineage back to the turn of the last century.


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