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                              TALESPINNER'S NEOPAGAN READING LIST 
                                by J. Brad ("Talespinner") Hicks 
          THE BEST FIVE: 
                  (Read these five first,they are by themselves thebest possible
          introduction  to Neopagan  Witchcraft  and practical  magic that  I've
          found anywhere.)  
          Starhawk, _The_Spiral_Dance_.  (San Francisco: Harper & Rowe, 1979).  
             Paperback, $10.95 
                        This isthe essential firstbook fora newwitch, Neopaganor
          otherwise.   In fact, many new  covens have been formed  with no other
          sources  than this  book.   Starhawk details  the myths,  legends, and
          magic of the Craft  in a beautifully elegant, easy-to-read way.  Often
          found  in bookstores on the "Women's Studies" shelf, Starhawk's vision
          of the Craft emphasizes the Goddess as the source of inspiration, with
          secondary emphasis on the Horned God.  Perhaps a bit too Feminist, but
          still the best introduction yet.  
          Margot Adler, _Drawing_Down_the_Moon_.  (Boston: Beacon Press, 1979). 
            Paperback, $9.50 
                        Althoughit isnow 7yearsout-of-date, thisis stillthe best
          history of the  modern, Neopagan  Craft that has  been published  yet.
          Includes many valuable  interviews with  some of the  people who  gave
          shape  to the Craft as we  know it.  While the  book does include some
          instruction  in magic, its  primary thrust is  philosophy and history.
          Keep an  eye out--there's an updated second  edition due out some time
          in late 1986.  
          Marion   Weinstein,  _Positive_Magic_.      (Surrey,   B.C.:   Phoenix
          Publishing, revised 1981).  Paperback, $8.95 
                        I see-saw betweenthis book andthe next onefor 3rd and4th
          place. Both are good, detailed  texts on magic and spell-casting.   At
          the moment,  I  recommend _Positive  Magic_  first for  the  following
                  1)  it is  more practical,  teaching actual  techniques before
          tackling  theoretical justifications,  and 2)  the language  is a  bit
          easier to follow for  non-scientists.  The topics covered  include the
          karmic effects  of magic, astrology,  divination with tarot  cards and
          the  I'Ching, and general spell-casting.   Its strongest  point is the
          section on tarot, which is the best  I've seen yet.  Its weakest point
          (in my opinion) is that it under-emphasizes poetry and ritual.  
          P.E.I. Bonewits, _Real_Magic_.  (Berkeley: Creative Arts Publishing, 
              revised 1979).  Paperback, $8.95 
                        Thisis theother"best" bookon magic. Itcovers amuch wider
          variety of topics, including ritual, psychic self-defense, and many  
          other psychic phenomena.  Isaac's approach is scientific and rational,
          not "religious," and his language is often more that of a scholar than
          a witch, but this is nevertheless an essential book for any student of
          magic.  WARNING: Make sure that you get the second edition (1979) or  
          later,  as the 1971 edition includes much material that is misleading,
          extraneous, and sometimes  just plain  false--the 1979 edition  was   
          heavily edited. 


          Scott Cunningham, _Earth_Power_.   (St. Paul: Llewellyn  Publications,
              Paperback, $6.95 
                        Agood, reliablevolumeof spellsandcharms, compiledfromthe
          Family Traditions and  other witchcraft  sources.  The  magic in  this
          book consists entirely of what scholars call "Low Magic"--the magic of
          village  herballists, midwives, and  healers--and as such,  it is very
          practical, simple, and unpretentious.  Missing is much of the ceremony
          of Neopagan Witchcraft;  in its place, a huge vocabulary of magic that
          can be used easily and  quickly, regardless of where you are  and what
          you have for tools.  
          THE BEST OF THE REST: 
                  (Onceyou have a good background, from the previous five books,
          you  will  find the  following all  make  good reference  books, worth
          having on your shelf.) 
          Stewart Farrar, _What_Witches_Do_.  (Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing,  
            revised 1983).  Paperback, $8.95 
                        Thisbook isso goodthat it ALMOSTmade itinto thetop five,
          displacing _Earth Magic_.  When its first edition came out in 1971, it
          was the only book on modern Witchcraft that was written for outsiders.
          It  is surprisingly well-written, and very thorough.  Its only serious
          problem is that  it is very specifically Alexandrian Witchcraft (named
          after Alex Sanders, its first High Priest), and some of it doesn't  
          generalize well.  Nevertheless, it has the best-written chapter on  
          initiation, among other things, that I've seen yet.  
          Herman  Slater (ed.),  _A_Book_of_Pagan_Rituals_.   (York  Beach,  ME:
          Samuel Weiser, 1978).  Paperback, $8.95 
                        This is thecomplete Bookof Shadows ofa Neopagantradition
          called The Pagan Way.  It includes complete, very well-written rituals
          for all eight of the High  Holidays (both solo and group ritual), plus
          a  mixed  bag  of rituals  for  healing,  trance work,  and  so forth.
          Requires some basic  knowledge of the Craft and its  symbolism, so its
          not  for  beginners, but  it is  definitely  useful to  any worthwhile
          fully-initiated witch.  
          Ellen Cannon Reed, _The_Witches'_Qabala_.  (St. Paul:  Llewellyn  
              Publications, 1985).  Paperback, $7.95 
                        So far, only Book 1, "The Goddess and the Tree" has been
          published, but it's already the best book on the Qabala that I've  een
          yet, and the only one I would recommend to a new  Neopagan Witch.  The
          Qabala and its commentary  to date contain a  lot of sexist  material,
          reflecting their Judeao-Christian  origins.  Ellen Reed  strips all of
          that away,  but in a  way that  is truer to  the Qabala's origins  and
          meaning  than was  the  offensive material.    Where she  changes  the
          traditional  attributions,   she  documents  it,   and  includes   the
          traditional ones as well.   
              This book is almost a "must-read."  


          Jack Schwarz, _Voluntary_Controls_.  (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1978).   
            Paperback, $7.95 
                        Jack Schwarzis NOTa witch,but don't letthat stopyou from
          profiting from the single clearest,  most practical book on kundalini-
          style meditation that has been published in the West.  If you are  
          having trouble meditating, or wish to do serious  trance work, turn to
          this book first. 
          Camden  Benares, _ZEN_Without_Zen_Masters_.   (Phoenix:  Falcon Press,
          1977).     Paperback, $6.95 
                        Outof printfor almost 7years, Iam VERYhappy to beable to
          recommend it  again.   This book is,  among other  things, proof  that
          there  is more  to  the Discordian  branch  of Neopaganism  than  just
          practical jokes.  It  is also the best  practical book on Zen for  the
          western world  that  I have  seen yet.   All  of the  best zen  koans,
          including these,  are also  humorous (and  therefore memorable).   The
          book  also includes MANY valuable  exercises.  As  Robert Anton Wilson
          (see below)  says in the  Commentary at the  beginning, "If you  don't
          laugh  at all,  you've missed the  point.   If you  only laugh, you've
          missed your chance for Illumination."  
          Robert Anton Wilson,
              (New York: Pocket Books, 1977).  Paperback, $3.95 
                        Inthisautobiographical work,Wilson detailshis initiation
          into and experience with almost every form of  shamanic magick that is
          still  practiced today,  and draws  some very  surprising conclusions.
          Strongest point:  this is a fantastic synthesis of magick, psychology,
          and physics.   Weakest point: its central theme--that all of the great
          mystical  societies and movements in history have been in contact with
          aliens from Sirius--is not taken seriously by Wilson (no matter how  
          serious he seems in this book), and should not be taken seriously by  
          the reader. 


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