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Top Five Vintage Witchcraft Books

Updated on May 20, 2017
kittythedreamer profile image

Kitty has been fascinated by witches since she was small. She has studied the folklore and history of witchcraft for the past sixteen years.

My top 5 vintage witchcraft books are all written before the 1990s.
My top 5 vintage witchcraft books are all written before the 1990s. | Source

Why Vintage Witchcraft Books?

There's something about an old book that just captures one's imagination and sweeps one off to a past decade. By modern definition, vintage is considered anything older than twenty years. There are dozens of books on witchcraft dating back thousands of years, but just for this article I have compiled my top five favorite vintage witchcraft books, mostly written in the twentieth century.

If you are a practicing witch or just curious, mark these vintage witchcraft books on your to-read list. You can find them used on Amazon and elsewhere online like on Etsy or Ebay. Or perhaps you'll get really lucky and come across one at a yard sale or thrift store. However these books reach you, they all have an unique message to bring. Messages of folk magic, witchcraft, and superstitions from our predecessors or perhaps even from some of our peers. Witchcraft before the age of technology was another creature unto itself. Take yourself back to that time and unwind and cast a spell or two. You might find that witchcraft before the Google age was quite different from what it is now. Richer.

I picture a woman like this when I read Crone's Book of Magical Words.
I picture a woman like this when I read Crone's Book of Magical Words. | Source

1. Crone's Book of Magical Words

The Crone's Book of Magical Words by Valerie Worth was a book of poems, according to the author herself. However, one is only to open the cover to the first page to see it is a book of enchantments - incantations, spells, and charms for any witch to use of her own accord. The first edition was published in 1971, and other editions were printed in 1999 and 2000. I came across this book in the early 2000s, when I was in my late teen years. I did not own the book, but I remember writing down as many of the chants and incantations as I could while sitting at a bookstore.

This book gives a "charm" or a magical enchantment for various purposes. Everything from pleasing household spirits to curing a wart. Worth offers words of power for healing, protecting, and even cursing. As they say a witch cannot heal if she cannot curse. You might also find a charm to summon the rain or for a little alchemy such as turning pebbles into jewels. Whether you actually try these enchantments or not is up to you, but the book itself makes for an extremely interesting read and is the perfect addition to a witch's library.

2. Power of the Witch

Power of the Witch by Laurie Cabot was actually the first book I ever found on witchcraft. I stumbled upon it in a thrift store in the early 2000s, and I bought it immediately. The author, Laurie Cabot, is known as the Official Witch of Salem and has been in the witchcraft community for over sixty years. She wrote Power of the Witch in the 1980s, and other editions have been printed since. Power of the Witch is sort of an introduction to the Old Religion, as Cabot calls it. She speaks of the ancient history of witchcraft, the stigma surrounding the religion, then goes into brief chapters on herbs, crystals, protection magic, meditative states, and more.

If you are a beginner witch or even an advanced witch, this book is a nice new (yet old) outlook and perspective on modern witchcraft. Keep in mind that not only is Laurie Cabot the Official Witch of Salem, but she has founded her own tradition and has even taught classes on the science of witchcraft at colleges in the state of MA. What I'm saying is, she's a qualified voice and writer on the topic and this vintage book is one to own.

On Crone's Book of Magical Words: "As they say, a witch cannot heal if she cannot curse."

— Nicole Canfield

3. Ozark Magic and Folklore

Ozark Magic and Folklore by Vance Randolph was originally written in the 1940s and has been printed again multiple times since then. The book is a compilation of superstitions, Old Wives Tales, and old folklore legends from the Ozark Mountains in the early twentieth century. This book is an intriguing read and will take you into the heart of the Ozarks with stories about witches, shapeshifters, medicine men, water witches, and more! The coolest part is that these stories were told by various people who lived their lives in the Ozarks in the early twentieth century. Vance traveled around and collected their orations and put them in print with this book.

There is a whole chapter on witches, as well as grannies and conjure men. Pick up a copy of this book and use it as a reference, or try some of the antidotes within. Either way, a great read and perfect addition to an American witch's collection.

A capture of the misty Ozark Mountains, where the Ozark Magic and Folklore book was written.
A capture of the misty Ozark Mountains, where the Ozark Magic and Folklore book was written. | Source
A few of Doreen Valiente's books featured in this pile of occult books.
A few of Doreen Valiente's books featured in this pile of occult books. | Source

4. An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present

Something about this book transports me to other places and times. I've had actual flashbacks while reading certain parts of An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present by Doreen Valiente. This book was written in the 1970s by a woman who was a witch herself. She was quite knowledgeable on many Occult topics and included much of it within this book. An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present reads more like a short encyclopedia or dictionary, of sorts. You can still find vintage copies of this book online through various sources for decent prices.

You will find the following topics included within its pages: mandrake root, Gerald Gardner, Baphomet, fairies, Aleister Crowley, and more. An enchanting and interesting read and a must-have for the vintage witch's library.

5. American Witch Stories

Last but not least, I give you American Witch Stories compiled by Hubert J. Davis in the 1970s. This work compiles dozens of stories told about witches living in the Appalachian Mountains in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Apparently the stories were actually gathered back in the 1940s and kept in some sort of archives in the state of Virginia, but then released and published in this book in the 1970s. The stories are somewhat hard to read on occasion, because they are word-for-word quoted from Appalachian people whose dialect wasn't the easiest to understand back then.

You will thoroughly enjoy reading their stories of witchballs, curses, shapeshifting cats, and more. If you've ever been interested in Appalachian folk magic, this is a book you'll want at your fingertips. Again, it can be used as a reference or to find antidotes to inspire your practice!

A capture of the Appalachians, where witches once threw curses at many an individual according to American Witch Stories.
A capture of the Appalachians, where witches once threw curses at many an individual according to American Witch Stories. | Source

© 2017 Nicole Canfield


Submit a Comment

  • ControlledChaos1 profile image

    Don 5 months ago from Tennessee

    I actually did some research a few years back on witchcraft and was warned that some of the older, more serious books actually "know" that you're interested in the knowledge they offer. After thinking about this statement I surmised that it wasn't the book that knew, but something else.

  • kittythedreamer profile image

    Nicole Canfield 6 months ago from the Ether

    phoenix2327 - Thanks for reading!

  • phoenix2327 profile image

    Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 6 months ago from United Kingdom

    I'll be adding these books to my collection. Thanks for the hub.

  • PinoyWitch profile image

    Jude Ian 6 months ago from Cebu, Philippines

    You have captured me again Nicole. Definitely looking for these in bookstores. wish me luck:)

  • James Peters profile image

    James Timothy Peters 6 months ago from Hammond, Indiana

    This is a very interesting Hub. I have recently begun an interest in the Wicca lifestyle and this is great to go even further. There's so much to learn and so much beauty in it as well.

    Thank you.