The essential beginners book list

This topic comes up once ever week, so I thought that we can all help put together a small list of the essential beginners books.

These 3 books contain complete training systems. You can pick anyone of them. Allow yourself a year or two to work through the material

Modern magick – Donald Michael Kraig

On it’s 3 revised edition with over 150.000 copies sold this modern classic is a great starting point. Not that it will teach you everything about magick, but it will teach you what you need to study since the book covers pretty much everything.
How to get stared, how to make an alter, how to make tools and so on.

Franz Bardon – Initiation into Hermetics

Celebrating it’s 60ths birthday this year, this absolutely unrivaled classic is a must for every serious practitioner. This book is the first of three volumes concerning self-realization and the techniques needed for that.
It outlines the most essential mental techniques you need to develop magic within yourself.

Liber Null & Psychonaut – Peter J. Carroll

Celebrating it’s 30th birthday next year Liber Null is slowly growing into a classic in it’s own right. It is not the first book about chaos magick, but I think we can be pretty honest about this probably being the first book that brought chaos magic to the masses. And in my mind, it’s still one of the best.

I think this book is great because it gives a good theoretical overview of chaos magic as well as offering a couple of great exercises and techniques for developing magic.

Dion Fortune – Mystical Qabalah
The easiest text on hermetic kabbalah. An instant classic published in the 1930’s that is still loved and used by occultists today.


The Secret Teachings of All Ages – by Manly P. Hall
Manly P. Hall wrote about 80 books, 2-300 articles, gave over 8000 lectures, started his own library and collected some of the finest books about alchemy, philosophy and esoterica and In 1934, Hall founded the Philosophical Research Society which is still around.
To be honest I don’t think we have any scholar of his magnitude with us today and most of what he wrote in this massive book still holds true.

This is the ONE book you need, If you want to understand the philosophy behind freemasonry, hermeticism, Rosicrucian and the history of the occult.

Joseph Campbell – The Hero with a Thousand Faces
Sooner or later you will stumble upon ancient mythology and comparative religion. It is an integrated part of the occult and in the modern movements more so then ever. However, often comparative religion is distorted, cheated and falsified to a level that is hardly recognizable in some occult texts. Therefore I recommend learning mythology from non-occult sources and Joseph Campbell is one of the most respected authors in the field.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces have sold millions of copies since it’s release in 1949 and it is still required reading in most universities around the world.

The Kybalion
This book is a fake, it’s a hoax.
BUT, it also happens to be one of the best descriptions of magic that I’ve read since Aristotle. It’s a very short book, only about 100 pages but it still manages to outline some of the most complex ideas in modern magic in such a way that anybody can understand it.

Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

This is still the best book I know when it comes to using the ideas of the kybalion in a practical and easy way in your daily life. Probably the best book about low magick ever written.

The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need – Joanna Martine Woolfolk
Astrology and planetary magic is a huge part of high magick and an underestimated part of low magick as well. Basically it can help us all.
Woolfolk might be boasting in her title, but with 700.000 copies sold in just 15 years this book is not to be ignored. It’s a great modern look that takes it time to explain astrology in such a way that even a kid could understand it.

Astrology for the Soul – Jan Spiller
Delving slightly deeper into astrology is Spillers book. It’s still practical and easy to read but it deals with the philosophy behind it all as well.

Stearn Robinson – Dreamer’s Dictionary
Dream interpretation is one of the first steps into magic and almost every tradition practices it. No one but yourself can tell you exactly what your dream means, but having a nice dream dictionary is always helpful and Robinson’s book has been around for 25 year and sold 1 million copies so don’t be surprised if you hear somebody quoting directly from this book.

Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells – Judika Illes
I can’t tell you how important it is that you first go through the exercises in the first 3 books before yous tart throwing spells all over the place. But this massive book gives you not only spells but also recipes for potions, oil, incense and pretty much everything you need for your first 5 years of development.

The Magician’s Companion: A Practical and Encyclopedic Guide to Magical and Religious Symbolism
This book is a great dictionary. At first glance it doesn’t contain anything you can’t find with a simple google search but I’ve noticed myself coming back to it over and over again. It’s just a useful tool when studying magic.

Mystical Origins of the tarot – Paul Huson
The tarot is such an integrated part of the occult that we sometimes forget to talk about it on this forum. What’s even worse is that slowly tarot has been taken over by new age soccer-moms who use it only for divination.
But the tarot also holds the key to most occult teaching and systems. And Paul Huson’s book is by far the best book dealing with these different systems and making an intelligible comparison about them from the perspective of an occultist.

The Three Pillars of Zen – Philip Kapleau Roshi

Several of the previous mentioned books deals with meditation, breathing exercises, yoga and visualization. But in my mind; The Three Pillars of Zen is still the best book about meditation. I’ve been carrying this book with me since 1995 and I still read it once every year.


Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft
Even if you don’t plan on practicing witchcraft this book is such a classic and covers such a wide range of subjects that it’s worth reading. There are tons of terms and lingo that originates from this book in the occult community and having read it just brings you up to speed on so many topics.

Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner – Scott Cunningham
Scott Cunningham is either the most loved or most hated person in wicca. But I think this book is interesting because it is targeted towards the solitary practitioner, and it outlines why it so, and how one can practice by themself even if the entire world is against you. This book is targeted towards teenager, but I think there is something worth in it for most practitioners who lives in countries where the occult isn’t exactly mainstream.

Anton Lavey – The Satanic Bible
Yes, another fake, hoax and let’s be honest; complete and utter worthless book from the standpoint of a magician. But it is just too funny and too common to leave out of this list. Chances are, this was your first introduction to the occult and every magician has since developed a love/hate relationship with it.