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It’s time to rethink outdated views on witches. Open your mind to the real meaning behind the craft and learn about the historical oppression of women deemed “witches” throughout history by adding these intriguing books about witches to your reading list.
Books About Witches
The books featured here discuss the historical oppression of witches through religious persecution and the horrific witch trials but also take us on a journey through time to celebrate women who we can consider witches in their time.
Some books also highlight what it means to be a modern witch, with hints, tips, and ideas for getting started with your own craft.
Put your reading caps on and learn everything you ever wanted to know with this fascinating selection of books about witches.
Non-Fiction Books About Witches
The majority of books about witches featured here are non-fiction, highlighting witches’ roles throughout history and the modern practice of witchcraft.
Here are the best non-fiction books about witches you need to add to your reading list.
In Defense of Witches: The Legacy of the Witch Hunts and Why Women are Still on Trial
Feminist writer Mona Chollet exposes the true intent of the witch hunts, both historic and modern. She showcases how independent and child-free women often found themselves in the witch hunter’s sights and compares the historical oppression of witches with the modern oppression women still face today.
Witches (the History of Persecution)
Author Nigel Cawthrone focuses on the facts in his essay on witch hunts. He exposes the human impact the trials had on those accused with actual letters and testimonies while providing well-researched facts on the witch hunters and trials around the world.
Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers
Best-selling author Barbara Ehrenreich joins forces with Editor and English Professor Deirdre English to showcase the witch trial’s vital role in upholding the patriarchy.
With a focus on the medical industry, the booklet examines women’s historical role as midwives and nurses, highlighting how the oppressive trials replaced women with men in these crucial roles as soon as money became involved.
To truly delve into the minds of those who participated in the witch trials, you need to read the first-hand account On Witchcraft by Cotton Mathers.
Mathers was deeply involved in the New England witch trials. His account attempts to defend his actions and highlights men’s view of themselves as divine arbiters of justice for the colonies.
The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England
Carol F. Karlsen examines the connection between gender relations and the witch trials in pre-Salem New England. The witch frenzy was only beginning, but the lingering question of why so many women were accused of witchcraft and sentenced to burn haunts us to this day.
Voodoo Queen: The Spirit Lives of Marie Laveau
Martha Ward celebrates the most famous witch in US history, the Voodoo Queen herself, Madame Marie Laveau. The book highlights the lives and times of the two Laveau witches – a mother and daughter pair sharing the same name.
It showcases their work to free enslaved people and support women while exploring the intersectionality of gender, race, and witchcraft.
Historian Ronald Hutton travels through time to explore the treatment of witches throughout history from ancient times to the present. He examines views on witchcraft from cultures across the globe, from Africa to Australia and the Americas.
The exploration shines light on how the cultural stigma against witches travels through generations and seeks to uncover ways to shift people’s perspectives on witchcraft.
The Penguin Book of Witches
Editor Katherine Howe compiled first-hand accounts and historical documents related to witches, witchcraft, and the witch trials into an accessible read that brings to life the true cost and impact of witches’ oppression throughout history.
The work features a manual for witch hunters, newspaper articles, and court documents from trials while focusing on the real humans impacted by the Inquisition.
Waking the Witch
Modern Witch Pam Grossman explores humanity’s historical fascination with witches while exploring the craft’s impact on her own personal journey to empowerment.
Grossman covers witches everywhere, from mythology to pop culture, showcasing the sometimes hidden impact witches made on humanity.
Witch: Unleashed, Untamed, Unapologetic
In her book on modern witchcraft, author Lisa Lister implores modern women to reconnect with the latent powers buried deep within them.
Lister discusses the negative stigma associated with the craft and the brutal oppression women faced for practicing throughout history while also offering modern women tools and resources for starting their own practice and discovering their inner power.
Missing Witches: Recovering True Histories of Feminist Magic
Authors Risa Dickens and Amy Torok take a different view of witchcraft with their fascinating book Missing Witches.
They selected eight women from different eras and cultures who used magic, ritual, or incantation but may have avoided the “witch” label. The women range from ancient Mesopotamia to near modern Harlem and highlight women’s long history of employing their inner power as it celebrates these eight groundbreaking women.
Malleus Maleficarum: Or, The Hammer of Witches
Malleus Maleficarum offers an inside look at the mindsets of people who persecuted witches. The book, dating to the last 15th century, claims witches are both real and evil. It then acts as a guidebook for conducting trials and torturing the accused to get confessions.
The work inadvertently highlights the actual cause of the witch panic in claiming that women are “more susceptible” to demonic possession and deriding promiscuous or independent women as witches.
Modern Wicca: A History from Gerald Gardner to the Present
Though Wiccans only represent a small subset of witches, when people think of modern witches, they generally think of the Wicca religion.
Michael Howard provides readers a glimpse into the Wiccan world, tracing its history as a nascent coven to its image today as the only form of modern witchcraft. He covers everything from the rituals to the political controversies in this spellbinding expose.
Spellbound: Modern Science, Ancient Magic, and the Hidden Potential of the Unconscious Mind
Psychiatrist Daniel Z. Lieberman highlights the power of the unconscious mind in his book, weaving the threads of ancient magic into modern psychiatry.
Though not specifically about witches, Lieberman’s work highlights the basic tenets of witchcraft, which revolves around the exploration of your inner powers. He showcases that the ancient traditions hold merit when explored from a psychological lens.
Anyone who wants to know how and why witchcraft works needs to read this book.
Modern Witchcraft Guide for Beginners: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide of Rituals, magick, and Spells that Will Unlock Your Spiritual Strength and Make You Become a Real Witch
Renowned witch Sybil Shawn helps people who are interested in the craft but unsure where to start find their way. However, it’s far more than a spell book.
Shaw guides readers through the history of witchcraft and explores the different types of witches found around the world. The history, practical information, and guide to getting started make it a fantastic option for people who want to start exploring their inner power.
Book of Shadows
Those who want a deep dive into Wiccan spiritual practices and rituals need to read Lady Sheba’s Book of Shadows.
A traditional book of shadows is a profoundly personal spellbook created by each witch that outlines their spellwork and rituals. Lady Sheba offers readers an inside look at the chants she uses in her personal Wiccan journey.
Modern Witchcraft: Goddess Empowerment for the Kick-Ass Woman
Blake’s resource on modern witchcraft helps women connect to the divine feminine and supercharge their inner power to take control of their lives. It frames witchcraft as a religion focused on the feminine or sometimes the vital connection between masculine and feminine attributes rather than a male-centric spirituality.
Crucial Fiction About Witches
A few essential works of fiction also highlight witches’ persecution throughout the ages and are crucial to understanding the cultural stigma against the craft.
These books about witches allow us to see the persecution through different perspectives and lenses.
The 1953 play by Arther Miller renewed interest in the atrocities of the Salem Witch Trials. Though written as an allegory to the “witch-hunts” of the Cold War, Miller used real stories of the Salem trials and attempted to be historically accurate, though he wasn’t always successful.
Practical Magic is one of the first contemporary fiction pieces to paint witchcraft in a mostly positive light. It celebrates sisterhood and love, two primary motivations of real witches.
The children’s tale turned film paints witches in an extremely negative light. They seek to rid the world of children by transforming them into rats.
The famous story helps highlight the harmful perception witches faced throughout history. The stigma is only recently starting to lift.
Shakespeare helped create our collective image of a “witch.” His famed words, “Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble,” are engrained in our collective subconscious, as is the image of a terrifying, decrepit witch sinisterly watching over her giant cauldron.
The Greek epic The Odyssey follows the titular character Odysseus as he voyages home from the Trojan War. Though not specifically about witches, The Odyssey does feature one of the earliest examples of a witch in recorded history.
During his journey, Odysseus stumbles upon Circe’s island and, to his horror, discovers that she’s a witch who beguiles men and transforms them into animals.
Homeric Hymn to Demeter
The Greek goddess Hecate makes her most crucial appearance in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Hecate is the patron goddess of witchcraft, and although she’s not as well renowned as the primary gods like Zeus and Athena, she played a vital role as a protector of women.
The Greeks celebrated Hecates Night, an evening feast for honoring the goddess and asking for her guidance throughout the coming year.
Thousands of Books on Spells and Witchcraft
With the current acceptance of new-age witches, more and more are writing books to share their experiences with the world.
Books on spells, crystals, divination, natural healing, and female empowerment abound online and in modern bookstores.
While perusing the selection, don’t forget the genuine history of oppression our ancient sisters faced. The books about witches featured above help us remember those tales and work for a future that’s accepting of all people, regardless of their spiritual practices.
Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.