Knowledge is POWAH! I’m a huge fan of using your local library for free information. Still, not every library has what you want. I’m sharing here some books related to paganism, tarot, and general witchy stuff I’ve found useful. If possible, I include an archive.org link so you can enjoy the book for free; otherwise I link to the book on WorldCat. If you wish to purchase a physical copy, I recommend checking out smaller local bookstores, used bookstores, ordering directly from the author, all before buying online.
Witchcraft Today by Gerald B. Gardner – 1954 – Arguably the titan in helping to introduce paganism and witchcraft to a wider audience.
The Meaning of Witchcraft by Gerald B. Gardner – 1959
Green Egg Zine Archive – 1972-1975 – An absolutely fascinating look into a truly organic movement spreading across the US. Many authors within are still active today!
Hippie Commie Beatnik Witches – Aidan A. Kelly – 2011 – A history of the spreading of pagan ideas starting in the 1960s in America.
New Age Encyclopedia – Gordon J. Melton – 1990 – Has a great timeline and general listing of “new age” or pagan movements in the US. Each entry is CHOCK FULL of sources.
The Spiral Dance – Starhawk – 1979 – Witchcraft! Earth worship! Oh my Goddess!
Drawing Down the Moon – Margot Adler – 1979 – Another pivotal work in neopaganism.
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham – A keystone in establishing Wicca as a religion “anyone” can join, not just initiates in covens.
Creating Circles & Ceremonies by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart – 2006
Tarot & Runes
The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite – 1910 – The OG guide to Tarot cards. Pamela Coleman Smith designed and illustrated the super-popular Waite-Smith deck based on Waite’s ideas.
Tarot Symbolism by Robert V. O’Neill – 1986
The Tarot: History, Mystery, and Lore by Cynthia Giles – 1992
The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination by Robert M. Place – 2005 – A MUST READ if you are starting out studying the Tarot. Better than any “spread” or interpretation dictionary, this carefully establishes the root meaning and history behind the cards.
The Book of Runes by Ralph Blum – 1982 – From whence modern interpretation of using runes for divination arose!
Runes by R. I. Page – 1987 – Detailed and thorough look at the history and use of runes.
Active Authors and Websites
Robert M. Place – Knows the Tarot up and down. His work is light on the wiffly waffly, and heavy on the history.
Cynthia Giles – Constantly updating her information on Tarot, and always exploring. Her Substack site is a wealth of information.
Covenant of the Goddess – Founded in 1975, the timeline on their website is insanely detailed and chock full of citations. You want names and books to read? Come and git ’em!
worldcat.org – Does your library have a book? Does the library down the street have a book? Check in the mother of all card catalogs, WorldCat. If YOUR library doesn’t have a book, ask your librarian about inter-library loans. Better yet, check out what programs your state may have for checking out books from other libraries. For example, here in Texas, we have TexShare, which allows for checking out at ANY LIBRARY IN THE STATE. Whoa!
archive.org – Do you REALLY want to read a book, but it’s not at your library and it costs like $300 on eBay? Check out archive.org, where there are TONS of out-of-print, rare, and hard-to-find books available FOR FREE to read online.
List last updated September 2023
This is not a comprehensive list by any means; these are books I’ve used extensively in my own research and/or have had a significant effect on modern American paganism. Most of them, while older, are considered required reading for anyone looking to learn more about witchcraft, paganism, Tarot, etc.
Newer books are HEAVILY influenced by these older volumes, and I recommend neophytes to check them out before severely condensed, “pop” books. It’s not unusual that newer books on paganism contain made-up “facts” or get history downright wrong. This is especially apparent when authors make claims of paganism being an “ancient” religion. It’s not, but that doesn’t invalidate the effect and power modern paganism and its philosophies has on people!