Further Reading

Below are some great resources for connecting with the natural world. A lot of it comes from modern Wiccan, Pagan and witch writers. While I sat out to make this site as accessible and nondenominational as possible, we can’t ignore that much earth-based spirituality survives in the modern context of Neo-paganism. While it seems contradictory, reading with both an open mind and a healthy critical eye will allow you to see some of the symbolic patterns and associations with nature. Adopt what you like and leave the rest. This is your path, after all. So without further ado:

Michelle’s List of Kick-A Reading for a More Natural and Balanced Life

The Way of the Green Witch: Rituals, Spells, and Practices to Bring You Back to Nature by Arin Murphy-Hiscock: This is at the top of my list because of its sheer practicality. It makes no statements about gods, “ancient witch cults,” or high-flatulent moral ramblings. It’s a handy-dandy little green handbook you can fit into a bag and refer to when you need to check some of the more common herb associations, pull up a good incense recipe or reference excellent elemental meditation ideas instead of standing around and trying to link-dive on your phone. It’s a primer on how to sense natural energies and gives great ritual ideas for honoring the natural world. Every few years I try to read through it back to front just to refresh the knowledge.

Scott Cunningham in general: He’s the forbearer of bringing Wicca to the people (outside of rigid coven systems with long initiation processes), and with it the natural wisdom and general earth-based spirituality it contains.

For our purposes I recommended his guides to herb and crystal associations: Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs and Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem and Metal Magic. He covers everything from common medicinal uses of herbs to wild folk superstitions surrounding gems and herbs. I recommend reading them to get an idea of the psychological associations and uses of plants and stones. They’re useful as focal points in meditations.

He also wrote books on elemental magic that I think are worth going through. They are Earth Power: Techniques of Natural Magic and Earth, Air, Fire & Water: More Techniques of Natural Magic. These books tend to focus on using nature to fix your material life (ie. there’s a spell to make sure your house doesn’t burn down by hanging herbs). I don’t have such a literal view on how the elements change your life, and it’s not one I’m trying to promote. But the books will give you a good understanding of the elements’ ritual use and it does have some good tips on using the elements for general self-improvement (ie. there’s some good suggestions on how to use air as a focal point to stimulate the mind on page 62 of Earth, Air, Water & Fire).

Elemental Witch by Tammy Sullivan: This books sets out to help you discover which elemental personality traits you associate with and use that to your advantage in magical rituals. It also covers a good deal of mythological lore associated with the elements, which was interesting. I’d recommend reading this to explore the personality traits symbolized by each element. (Apparently I’m an “air witch…”)

The Way of Four: Create Elemental Balance in Your Life by Deborah Lipp: This is an ambitious book that covers everything and it’s mother when it comes to earth, air, water and fire. It covers the history, meditations, the elements and personality (even gives a mock Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator test), elemental spells and fitting the elements into your daily life. This one also does its best to pigeonhole you into a certain elemental personality and then has you work to balance that out with your opposite element. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I naturally resist labels and feel people are more complex than that, so my verdict on that is out. But it might help you, and I can’t deny how utterly complete this book is on the four element system.

The Druidry Handbook: Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Living Earth by Michael Greer: If you want to study earth-based wisdom, you can’t go wrong with modern Druidry. This is an entry-level handbook for the Ancient Order of Druids in America, and you’ll get the basics of a faith that puts the earth first.

The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft by Ronald Hutton: British scholar Ronald Hutton gives us a walk through well-documented history and how it gave way to the modern earth-based pagan faith. Published by Oxford University Press, this one runs on the dry side of the reading list, but if you can beat your inner ADD child with a willow switch, it’s the best book out there you can read on the subject.   On your quest to live closer with Mother Earth, you’ll encounter a lot of references to “old witch cults” that lived in secret and passed their knowledge along to a chosen, special few. I suspect this is from the early days of Wicca in the mid 1900s, when people figured it needed to be old to be taken seriously. Sometimes people feel like they can’t just say, “yeah, I made this up!” Hutton kicks that in the balls and gives a complete view of how and why earth-based spirituality is the way it is (hint: it wasn’t a shadowy group of super witches). Remember, the more you know…

I’ll add more here as time goes on, complete with links to book review posts. Happy reading!