I had a lovely time tonight chatting with the wonderful Juliet Marillier about folk and fairy tales, magic and witches and writing for WA Libraries.
A few people wanted to know which books to read about magic. The ones I started with are generally old ones, but that’s what I prefer to get the right feel for my stories. So, here are some of the main ones:
Witch Stories, E. Lynn Linton
The Penguin Book of Witches
The History of Demonology a& Witchcraft, Montague Summers
Witchcraft & Black Magic, Montague Summers
A History of Magic and the Occult, D.K.
The Land Beyond the Forest, Emily Gerard
In general, read books about witch trials because they often contain purported magic spells, etc. (and you can see how ridiculous those accusations were). Some of the older texts, like the Summers above, can be a bit difficult to get so try Project Gutenberg first off. The Gerard is interesting because you can find little spells and superstitions embedded in her ‘travel narrative’ – like if someone can’t sleep, but a little pouch of grave dirt beneath their pillow!
In terms of herbcraft and ‘old’ medicine, I’ve got a copy of Culpeper’s Complete Herbal on my shelf. Nerys Purchon’s Book of Herbs, the Wordsworth Guide to Poisons and Antidotes, and Sandra Lawrence’s The Witch’s Garden Plants in Folklore, Magic and Traditional Medicine.