Six months ago I put together a list of things for newer occultists to think about. This proved to be surprisingly popular, and as a result I have decided to create another article relating to the books that helped me when I was just starting out. It goes without saying that the following is heavily biased towards chaos magick, as that is where my own roots lie. However, considering that this is a path which hinges upon experimentation there is no reason to assume that such a starting point would be detrimental to others finding their feet in our most labyrinthine of mystical universes.
Gale Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology
Edited By John Gordon Melton
Of all the entries showcased here, this particular two volume work will prove to be the most important for those looking to gain a broad grounding in magickal ideas from a sober point of view. An eclectic work built upon the foundation of Lewis Spence’s Encyclopaedia of Occultism, itself a fantastic book that earned a number of bootlegged reprints over the years, the Gale version has the added distinction of being widely available in PDF format for free online. A must read regardless of the current you choose to follow, this really offers a foundation for whatever comes next.
Oven Ready Chaos
By Phil Hine
A short text that is not restricted to those who follow the eight pointed star by any means, Hine’s much discussed handbook for the freelance magickian was the first practical work on sorcery most occultists stumbled upon back when the internet was at the forefront of the Technopagan revolution. Plain speaking and easy to understand, this booklet is light on ritual but heavy on ideas, and a perfect introduction to the concepts which underlie the chaos current. While the author would later distance himself from the discipline which he helped bring into the mainstream, his defining work still stands as a testament to the heady days of belief fuelled excess.
The Curious Lore of Precious Stones
By George Frederick Kunz
One of the more difficult books on this list to find in the wild, the Curious Lore is nevertheless worth the time and effort required to acquire a copy. Not quite an encyclopedia, and in no way written by someone sympathetic to magick as a lifestyle, the rambling and florid prose still holds much of use. Yes, the text has its flaws, but the almost obsessive manner in which Kunz filled this sizeable tome to the brim with folklore relating to the occult associations of minerals remains unparalleled. There is a reason why many of the modern authors on the subject reference his work after all.
Edited By Jason Louv
One of the main issues with modern occultism is the inherent difficulty in finding your place in the wider magickal diaspora, and for those who exist outside of the usual coven or group structures this disconnect is even more pronounced. Thankfully, books such as Generation Hex exist to offer the anecdotal evidence of those who have already walked this path and found a personal truth worth sharing with everyone else. While the work is over a decade old now, meaning that many of the authors have moved on to other things, the included essays form a valuable snapshot of the unfettered freedom that typified occult thinking around the turn of the 21st Century.
The Book Of Ceremonial Magic
By Arthur Edward Waite
While not without its issues, such as the at times puritanical tone of the author, the Book of Ceremonial Magic is still a valuable resource for those newer occultists who have yet to collect the original grimoires that were carved up and reproduced when putting this particular text together. Despite the idea behind the project being to deride the left hand leanings of the various topics covered it instead became a useful repository of information on a variety of demonological and necromantic topics, even going as far as offering instruction on certain rituals in places too.
The Satanic Bible
By Anton Szandor LaVey
Of all the books on this list, the Satanic Bible might at first seem to be the most out of place. Yet for the inexperienced magickian there is no more concise and accessible work on deprogramming the subconscious mind from the baggage of socially imposed right and wrong than this short essay on solipsistic mysticism. While the majority of those reading this text will find that they have little in common with the Church of Satan, the book is best used as a tool to challenge your existing view of reality. Converting to the left hand path wholesale is not a prerequisite, though perhaps you will prove to be one of the few for who those ideas truly resonate.