So you want to become a witch. You’ve rejected the traditional religions, you’ve given up on normal society, and you’re ready to call up a storm and sink the ship your ex is on. All you need’s a pentagram tattoo and a rehearsed remark on the Law Of Threes, right?
Not so fast, Madam Mim. Declaring your allegiance to the magical world is one thing, knowing what the Hell you’re talking about is another. It’s not called witchhobby, it’s witchcraft, and like any craft it involves some level of knowledge, skill, and dedication to learning more as you go. And the first thing anyone has to do when learning a skill is read.
So here are five books you should pick up if you want to learn the language of damnation. Good luck, and don’t cross the streams. Wait, that doesn’t apply here. Just, be careful.
The Grand Grimoire
As far as books on actual magic go, The Grand Grimoire is pretty much the be-all end-all of sorcery manuals. The book is authored by Antonio Venitiana del Rabini, but is believed to be a collection of the writings of King Solomon, and it’s rumored to have been put under Solomon’s throne by Satan himself as a means of tempting him. The Grimoire contains spells, talismans, and wand-making instructions, as well as invocations of several demons, specifically one named Lucifuge Rofocale, the demon who runs Hell’s government.
The Black Pullet
Written by an anonymous officer of Napoleon’s army, The Black Pullet is part legend, part magic manual. The former tells the story of the aforementioned officer being saved by an old Turkish man who is aided by celestial spirits, and who possesses a black hen who can lay golden eggs. The latter is a collection of invocations, talismans, and instructions in the art of necromancy and spirit summoning. An interesting book in that it is not steeped in dark occult practices, but rather practical and nuanced magic.
The Black Arts: A Concise History of Witchcraft, Demonology, Astrology, and Other Mystical Practices Throughout The Ages
Richard Cavendish’s The Black Arts contains no instructions on how to be a witch. Instead, it’s a well-researched and entertaining cultural history of witchcraft and the culture surrounding it. Casual readers might be put off by the long and somewhat laborious opening chapters about numerology and divination, but Cavendish’s familiar tone makes these subjects fascinating even when they’re overly explained. Know thyself.
There is no book more important to practitioners of witchcraft and devilry than the Bible. It is the holy book of holy books, the tome with which demons are vanquished and summoned, and with which the enemies of magic learn the art of war. More so, many of the spells described in the first two entries of this list require a Bible to be performed with any potency; in fact, many of the spells in The Grand Grimoire involve using Christian virtue to tame the demons one summons. Know thy enemy.
You think I’m joking? Don’t. Arthur Miller’s allegory for McCarthyism is a fascinating view into the public understanding of the Salem witch trials. It’s also the one most people know, which means you can hold your own when someone brings it up. Yes, it’s historically inaccurate, but that’s sort of the point—by seeing how someone uninterested in witchcraft describes the art and history, you can understand how the world around you thinks you operate.