Some New Books!

by Liz

Over my winter break, Ben and I were at a local used book store and I acquired 3 new… well old, but new witchy books for my library that I am very excited about! I know that break ended about a week ago, and I bought them closer to two weeks ago – I just haven’t gotten around to exploring them (and photographing them to enhance how wonderfully retro they are) until now, 3AM on Saturday.

I’m always thrilled to add books published before the 1980s to my collection. Don’t get me wrong, I have a slew of post-1980 books put out by all the big new age publishers, but I also like to have a lot of books that are older and pertain to contemporary witchcraft, as well as books with explore more anthropological or folkloric aspects of magic.

Needless to say I was absolutely thrilled when I spotted E.E. Evans-Pritchard’s Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande and Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft on a spontaneous book shopping trip. I knew immediately that they needed to be mine.

Pritchard’s Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande is an older anthropological text which examines exactly what the title describes: magic among the Azande people of Southern Sudan as Pritchard observed it in the 1920s. The full text was first published in 1937 and the widely produced abridged version that I picked up is from 1976. I haven’t yet started to read this text, but I really look forward to noting how elements from Pritchard’s work have trickled down into contemporary understandings of magic and witchcraft.

Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft is one of those great ‘modern classics’ on traditional British witchcraft as it was published in 1970. I’m absolutely in love with this book as I’m in love with most books about witches and witchcraft in the modern setting that were published in the 1960s and 1970s. Huson really guides the reader through many basic elements of traditional witchcraft: circle casting, initiations, covens, divination, tools and all sorts of other things. I’m in the process of reading this and if you haven’t read it, you should. Also, Paul Huson did all of the illustrations in this book, which are really quite lovely.

My third acquisition, which I did not list with the first two, is Venetia Newall’s The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Magic. It was published in 1974 by the Dial Press and is laid out as a slim encyclopedia of people and things pertaining to magic and witchcraft. What I love most about this book is all of the imagery; there are a lot great photos and pieces of art from all sorts of cultures compiled in this book which serves to enhance the sometimes sparse explanations of topics. Frankly, I would have this as a coffee table book for casual thumbing-through and I really enjoy it.

Aside from how ridiculously great the books themselves are, I managed to buy all three for under $15, which really made the day even more perfect than it was. Anyway, these are the books I’m currently reading – if you’ve read any of them I’d love to know what you think so feel free to comment!

Amazon Book Linkages:

*The Amazon link for the Newell encyclopedia might not be very helpful – it doesn’t seem as though the book is readily available through Amazon, I’d try some other online book vendors if you’re really looking for that one.

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