I don’t actually remember not being able to read, and I was one of those precocious children reading ‘Wuthering Heights’ in primary school, rather than ‘The 5th Form at Malory Towers’.
Having said that, I understand that reading isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. One of my most beloved friends doesn’t really care for it, nor the father of my children (yet Reader, I still married him). However THIS post is intended for those of you who’ve asked for suggestions along the magical lines.
First of all, I recommend New Scientist magazine AND Fortean Times. If you can’t afford this, make friends with someone who can and share their copies. Or look online.
The following images are from one particular bookcase in my house and show the tip of the iceburg. In between, I’ll mention a few favourites, but you can have a peek at what I’ve clearly read, but not mentioned. And many, many favourites aren’t on these shelves, and I’ll have forgotton others.
So, in no particular order
- almost any book of poetry; Ted Hughes is pretty fantastic (and not just because he was dishy, local and Northern). Dylan Thomas is just beyond amazing. Check out Fiona McLeod for an insight into Faery .
- almost any book of mythology, folklore. You really should be familiar with what is local to you. Being Northern European, I’m particularly interested in Norse and Saxon mythology, and of course The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien is the perfect gateway into that. The White Goddess by Robert Graves is dense, but worthwhile. Remember its a blend of poetry as well as ‘history’ and don’t let him lead you too far up the garden path.
- I’ve mentioned Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke before, but it is a Most Excellent Account of English Magic. I really do think Ms Clarke was inspired by Faery when she sat down to write this. It opens doorways, it really does.
- Neil Gaiman, when he’s behaving himself, also knows the Road to Faery. Try Stardust and The Ocean at the End of the ?Lane? How embarrassing! I can’t remember! And of course The Sandman. Most of it, anyway.
- Dion Fortune. Not quite anything by Dion Fortune, but why not try Moon Magic and The Sea Priestess and see how you get on. If you love her, then you can read Psychic Self Defence.
- Phil Hine is always being held up as the chaos mage to refer to for ease, but I like Jaq D Hawkins better. Chaos Monkey is a lovely little starter; you can read it in the bathtub over a couple of evenings to start you off in that direction and move on to Mr Carroll and Mr Sherwin afterwards.
- The Book of Fallen Angels by Michael Howard is a calm explanation of Luciferianism.
- Ah Mr Crowley! I’ll bet he caught your eye, didn’t he? Well next to that is Woman who Run with Wolves and I’ve read that as much. There’s a glimpse of Dreamers of Decadence too because I’m so fin de siècle.
- It’s always good to remind yourself that Western Magical Tradition wasn’t isolated by the end of the 19th century, but was skipping along very happily besides Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley. One thing informs another.
- Alan Moore! Bloody bloody-minded Alan Moore! Decided to become a proper magician and if you read Promeathea ,the Kabbalah will suddenly become quite understandable.
- Before I forget – Marigold at Godmother’s House by Joyce Lancaster Brisley (creatrix of Milly-Molly-Mandy)
- Catrin James wrote two books (that I know of) on her experiences of ‘Celtic Faery Shamanism’. I’m sure you understand by now that it doesn’t matter that much if they are entirely ‘true’. She makes everything sound really natural, easy, normal as she writes her autobiographical account of a witchy life.
- I’m really not sure about RJ Stewart these days, but there was a time in my life when he was the bee’s knees. Try The Underworld Initiation and see where it leads you.
- Anais Nin, like RJ Stewart, was a formative influence upon my life. I’d probably be working in a branch of Barclay’s Bank, if it wasn’t for Anais Nin. Take her with a pinch of salt in certain respects, for her ‘honest’ journal is not exactly that, but oh my goodness, she really can channel Astarte!
- Phantasmagoria by Ian Daniels is probably my favourite book about Tarot, but it was late to the show. Rachel Pollack is very intelligent and accessible, and I’ve read and re-read 78 Degrees of Wisdom more times than I can count!