8 Spellbooks that Will Reignite Your Love of Casting

Author: Quill ofQuillsOccultSupply /

I am of a very particular nature when it comes to spellbooks.  The prose must be impeccable; the poetry must flow with ease.  I don't like the "we're chums having coffee at my kitchen table" style banter from an author (though I understand why it is so popular) but
I also don't want to be smothered in flowery language.

All I really desire is a spellbook that is interesting to read with well-written spells that I can recognize as being useful, even if I don't need them at the moment. From that tall order, I have chosen to present you with what I consider to be the best. These are the books I bring down when I have some serious planning to do. They're my go-to guides for dealing with problems to solve, people to charm, challenges to pass, opportunities to utilize, and competitions of all kinds that must be won.

As a disclaimer, I must add that there are a great many spellbooks available and, though I have read a lot of them, I haven't read them all.  Indeed, I haven't even seen them all.  If you have favorites of your own to add to this list, I welcome you to enlighten me in the comments section.  It would give me a good excuse to buy a copy for myself!

Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells by Judika Illes

I actually haven't met a practitioner who owns this book and didn't fall instantly in love. It's the grand tome we all knew existed somewhere but had not yet found.  I was already long a witch by the time this one came into print and knew how special it was compared to what I was seeing elsewhere on the shelves.  I pored over it longingly until that Yule my husband bought it for me as a present.  I read it cover to cover.

In short, the Encyclopedia is huge.  Comprehensive and wide-ranging, Ms. Illes offers whole chapters on every possible magical objective.  If you cannot find a spell in here to solve your problem using components you already have on hand, you either have no components or you have no problem.  I cannot imagine any other possibility.

I was, a few years ago, fortunate enough to meet Ms. Illes in person and give her my painfully gushing review of her work.  I sounded so silly as I said it but every word was true: I cannot remember what I did before this book.  It's just that good.

Secrets of Magical Seals by Anna Riva

Ms. Riva's books are so terrific that I'm always shocked when fellow practitioners say they've never read her.  Don't let the diminutive size fool you--all her books are stuffed end to end with workable magic.

I especially like "Secrets of Magical Seals" because it compiles seals of a variety of traditional sources and organizes them in a clean, easy to reference way.  Her images are, for the most part, tidy enough to cheat a bit and run off a copy on the printer and use as-is (if need be), rather than trusting to your artistic ability and copying freehand.

Of course, I am obliged to mentioned that you can see some of the seals mentioned in this book that I use most often (those from "The Black Pullet") in Quill's Occult Supply. If you have a copy of "Secrets of Magical Seals" and see something you would like recreated in wood, feel free to contact me for a custom order!

I won't go through every Anna Riva book, I swear!  I doubled these up here to make room for others, but also to point out how similar they are, how well they work together.  It is for that reason that when I turn to Ms. Riva's work, these two are always side-by-side.

True to Ms. Riva's style, each of these spellbooks cut to the chase.  Spells are short and direct.  You are expected to know how to do all the extraneous stuff like prepare for spellwork, focus energy, and send it to a target.  She gives you simple directions for the core spell and you handle the rest.  Because of this, you might want to only use her books once you have experience to feel confident enough to go without direction. For those of us who've been in the magical community 15+ years, this is a welcome option.

My favorite part of Ms. Riva's books is that they so perfectly they sit in my practice.  They make small works of magic available on a daily basis, create opportunities for adding power to mundane tasks, and can neatly dovetail into larger spells to boost their effectiveness.

The Magick of Chant-o-Matics by Raymond Buckland

I learned from a fellow practitioner that this was later reissued under a new title, but I cannot for the life of me remember what it is.  Suffice to say, the new version has a much less--let's say--unique title.

This book came from a time when it was most desirable for magic to go mainstream, to be thought of as another form of Self Help.  Because of that, you have language in the style of a snake-oil peddler and at least 2 testimonials per topic.  Couple that with the fact that though the charms obviously have stylistic and linguistic differences that seem to show a variety of sources, none of them are given to the reader.  But, with the focus of the book being what it is, that would be a ridiculous thing to do.

That about covers all the derision that other readers have placed upon this poor little book.  Now for the good stuff.  It works.  Period.

Some of the chants are clearly reduction-style affirmations, some seem derived from various languages, others are pure sound.  Whether they are traditional or freshly minted (for 1978, at least), you can't argue with results.  I enjoy adding these chants to larger spells and to boost other magical workings, like dipping candles.  They are a terrific way to increase potency by adding focus and another layer of correspondence.

Complete Book of Witchcraft and Magic by Kathryn Paulsen

What a gutsy little book!  You won't see things like this any more.  From classic texts of the world comes all manner of magical information and instruction, without being prettied up
for modern consumption.  Here are brutal curses, self-serving spells, and blood pacts with demons.  If you want the unvarnished truth, here it is in a tiny package--a trade paperback.

I love this book for the fact that it always inspires me to cast.  When you read it (especially my ragged, yellow-paged copy), you feel the ties that connect you to practitioners of the classic era--witches in the woods, alchemists in their studies, ceremonial magicians in their circles.  Despite our differences, we are their kin.

No matter what your practice, you will certainly find the list of components interesting (an alphabetical collection of stones, herbs, and animal parts).  Many of the uses of these items I have not seen in other books, especially as so many of the more recent books have scrubbed of all negative connotations from their discussion of magical ingredients.

Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson

Another bold book that doesn't care if you agree with it or not, "Mastering Witchcraft" is ready to offer traditional magic to any reader willing to sit down, shut up, and listen.

Mr. Huson offers many formulas as well, but don't expect the "2 pts. Frankincense, 1 pt. Sandalwood" fare you're used to from Scott Cunningham.  These are incenses et al that will require a bit of time to compound.  You might have to do some searching to gather all the ingredients but, as it is often noted by authors, the search for components is part of the spell.

The spells, while not vast in number, are tight and exciting.  Mr. Huson offers a view of magic that is enthusiastic, fearless, and intelligent.  If you have a similar outlook, I highly recommend adding "Mastering Witchcraft" to your library.

Utterly Wicked by Dorothy Morrison

I am so happy that the era of "every witch must be a PR rep for the rest of us" is coming to a close.  We really don't need to prove to the outside world that we're just like them.  I am happy to say that I'm not just like a non-practitioner; I look at life differently, I attack problems differently, and I have different objectives than the average person would understand.

Ms. Morrison nails this feeling.  Before reading "Utterly Wicked," I was already well-versed in cursing.  After reading it, however, I was amazed at the sheer volume of curses that one person can devise as well as the many unique methods that can be used.  If anyone has done you wrong, you will find plenty here to pay them out for it.

Instant Magic by Christopher Penczak

I enjoy this book because it offers clear methods of making magic without anything on hand but doesn't use that as a cop-out.  Too often we're told "You don't really need anything to cast spells; the magic is in you!" but when methods to this effect are described, they're so dull and lifeless that you might as well not cast at all.  And, in fact, I've met many practitioners that do just that, losing their magic for the lack of any material foundation.

For me, I like my spells to be beautiful, sophisticated, and emotionally affecting.  If you can manage to do that without physical presence, I can respect your work.  Mr. Penczak definitely gets my respect.

Perhaps this is a useful balance to the darker spellbooks I've mentioned here, but it is a nice one to peruse when you have spare time.  I don't generally have this on my go-to list when I need to set up spellwork, but I can say that every time I flip through it, I get ideas for magic I want to work.  If your practice is loosing its luster, grab a copy of "Instant Magick" and get excited about all manner of spellwork again.

This list contains many of the books I had early on in my practice.  They're the ones that I've spent the most time with, used the most often, and continue to return to for inspiration and information.  They've seen me through, in their turns, 18 years of spellcasting.  That's validation enough for me.

Think about your favorites.  What are the books that opened your eyes and changed your thinking of spellcasting?  Which ones made you a stronger caster?  Which would you recommend and why?

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My name is Quill and I've been practicing witchcraft for the past 17 years. 10 of those years I've been reading tarot and teaching.  I own a shop on Etsy called Quill's Occult Supply (check it out at QuillsOccultSupply.Etsy.com) full of handmade ritual and decorative items, spell components, and wild picked herbs.

I love to work with my hands.  Magic is a tool to shape our lives, and I'm using magic to shape tools to shape magic.  Cosmic! 

I use a lot of my favorite things in my shop: herbs, candles, wood, fabric, paint, clay.  And I get to carve, burn, grind, mold, think, dream ... I'm in the perfect business!

I've written 3 manuscripts for publication (2 non-fiction and 1 fiction) and am an avid NaNo-er!  I and my husband run a local coven called Orbis Prosapia, and our children are growing up surrounded by magic, mythology, fairy tales, Earth worship, art, open discussion, music, and humor. 

In addition to working on Ex Penna about my experiences as a professional witch, I also write for Scenes from the Circle about being a coven leader. 

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