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The Wicca Handbook

The Wicca Handbook

4.4 29
by Eileen Holland

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The Wicca Handbook is both a tutorial for new witches and an exceptionally well-organized reference book for experienced practitioners. It guides us through the first steps in becoming a witch and explores many Wiccan traditions, initiations, and magical practices. The Wiccan year--the eight Sabbats--along with many of its rituals and ceremonies are examined.


The Wicca Handbook is both a tutorial for new witches and an exceptionally well-organized reference book for experienced practitioners. It guides us through the first steps in becoming a witch and explores many Wiccan traditions, initiations, and magical practices. The Wiccan year--the eight Sabbats--along with many of its rituals and ceremonies are examined. Holland also provides the background of every facet of witchcraft, such as spells for every occasion, psychic protection, numerology, basic astrology, and the lore of stones, metals, candles, animals, and much more. High Priestess Eileen Holland's helpful guide is rooted in practicality and intended as a working handbook, not a simple beginner's guide. The information is rich; clear directions are given, and its range of content is extensive. Spells, circles, crystals, and color magic, herbs, health, and healing are all covered with abundant direction on how to do it, when to do it, and suggestions for seeking guidance from the deities. Those who have been on their path for a few years will find this a great reference book to refer to time and again.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This book by Holland is a topnotch reading and learning journey. The Wicca Handbook is one of the best in its field." -- From GhostVillage.com

Product Details

Red Wheel/Weiser
Publication date:
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6.24(w) x 8.96(h) x 0.77(d)

Read an Excerpt


By Eileen Holland

Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC

Copyright © 2008 Eileen Holland
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60925-452-0




Witch. What a powerful word it is. It attracts, it repels, it frightens, it fascinates. It offers hope to those who do not know where else to turn.

"How can I become a witch?"

I get thousands of letters from all over the planet asking this question. All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccan. Wicca is a religion, a distinct spiritual path. There are many, many ways to be a witch. I am a Wiccan priestess, so this book is about the Wiccan way.

I'm a solitary—a witch who chooses not to belong to a coven or other working group of witches. I practice Wicca as seems right and natural to me; I do not follow any particular Wiccan tradition. I am an eclectic, which means I honor and work with gods and goddesses from different cultures and pantheons. Erzulie's flag, a pentacle wreath, and the Green Man all preside over my altar, which is cluttered with pyramids, obelisks, scarabs, and ankhs.

I don't think there is any one correct way to be a witch or to practice the Wiccan religion. I believe we each have the responsibility of determining a personal path within the faith, an individual path that is right for us. (The emphasis on personal responsibility is one of the things that drew me to this religion in the first place.)

If you ask ten witches the same question, you may get ten different answers. Some traditions prescribe that things be done in certain ways, but I say that you should trust yourself. If something feels right to you, it is right. If something works for you, that is the right way to do it.


Modern Wicca began in England in 1939, when Gerald Gardner was initiated into a traditional British coven by Dorothy Clutterbuck (Old Dorothy). He later broke the coven's seal of secrecy and published books about the beliefs and practices of British Wiccans, because he feared the religion would die out. This began what continues to be a groundswell of people converting to Wicca.

Debate currently rages over whether Wicca is a new religion, or the oldest of all religions. Some say that Wicca has been practiced continuously in Europe at least since the Ice Age. They cite paleolithic carvings of female figures, such as the Venus of Willen-dorf, as evidence of Goddess worship having been the origin of all religions. No, say others, Wicca is a neo-pagan faith, a 20th century construct.

Wicca is actually both, I think, and see no point in debating the issue at all. Modern witches follow in the tradition of our earliest ancestors and are the shamans and healers of the 21st century. We are priests and priestesses of the Great Goddess; we practice the ancient art of sacred magic in the modern world. Certainly witchcraft has changed over the millennia, but we still have much in common with the neolithic practitioner crouched before a fire, crushing herbs for a healing brew. Methods and tools may be different, but the intent is the same: to help and to heal, to honor the Mother in all that we do.

Witchcraft has adapted when necessary—we are only just emerging from the siege mentality that the Burning Times imposed upon us. We are in the process of learning how to live openly as witches again. Witchcraft has also evolved—we no longer slay the sacred king each year to ensure the tribe survives and flourishes. There are no more burnt sacrifices in Wicca, no shedding of animal or human blood to make spells work.

Every Wiccan is a priest or priestess of the Goddess as well as a witch. We serve her in whatever ways we are able to serve, according to our talents, abilities, and personal circumstances. Each Wiccan determines his or her own code of personal conduct and behavior according to the Rede, so you will find Wiccans who are pacifists as well as Wiccans who are professional soldiers, some who are omnivorous and others who are vegans.

Wicca is an Earth religion—an accepting, open-minded faith that celebrates diversity and considers us all to be children of the same Mother. Gender, age, race, sexual orientation, physical status, family background, or ethnic heritage are not important in Wicca. We are male and female, old and young, gay and straight, healthy and disabled, and of all colors. There are no reliable statistics on this, but it seems to me that there are about the same number of male and female Wiccans.

We collect no dues, have no central organization, no governing body, no supreme leader, no great high priestess who speaks for the Goddess. Our temples are gardens and forests, libraries and beaches, mountains and bookstores. Wicca consists simply of its witches and their collective beliefs and practices. It is a voluntary association of individuals who share one faith, but practice it in myriad ways. No one is born Wiccan-not even our children, for we expect them to choose their own spiritual paths when they are old enough to make such choices. There is nothing like a dress code, but many witches wear a pentacle. We have no dietary restrictions, but many witches are vegetarians.

Wicca is an organic religion, one that is evolving and emerging as a worldwide faith. It is growing rapidly, although we neither seek converts or proselytize. This is not a faith that knocks on your door. It is one to which you make your own way. Wicca is a way of life, a belief system that reflects itself in the ways we interact with the world around us. Personal integrity and respect for Mother Nature are important parts of the Wiccan way.

The Wiccan faith has two pillars—the Great Goddess and a poem called "The Wiccan Rede." The first step in becoming a witch is to find your way to the Goddess. The second step is to establish an ethical system in which to use her gift of magic. I am often asked how someone can get involved in the occult without being seduced by its dark side. The answer is that you must have an ethical belief system, one with which you keep faith.

This book contains everything you need to know to begin to practice magic, but you won't be ready for magic until you have taken those first two crucial steps.


Have you ever been jolted from a sound sleep by someone calling your name, then sat up and discovered you were all alone? What you heard was the call of the Goddess. She is always there, always with us, always calling, but only some of us can hear her. Those who can are witches, her priests and priestesses.

To be a witch, you have to find your way to the Goddess and establish a relationship with her. There are many ways to do this: studying mythology, spending time with the Moon or the sea, meditating, planting a garden, keeping bees, nurturing a child, taking long walks in the woods, and so forth. She is everywhere; all you have to do is look for her. When you find her, invite her into your life. Offer yourself to her service. Step back and watch the magic begin to flow through you and around you.

The Goddess is the universe itself, not something separate from or superior to it. Creation is the business of the universe, which destroys only to re-create. We personify this as the Great Mother. She is self-created and self-renewing. We share atoms with her, are one small part of the godhead, but we are just one product of her great creative nature. Her variety is infinite, as evinced by snowflakes and fingerprints. She is the yin and yang of being, composed of both female (goddess) and male (god) energy. We worship her by many names: Ishtar, Isis, Shakti, Asherah, Xochiquetzal, Brigit, Pelé, Copper Woman, Lupa, Luna. We also recognize old gods like Pan, Osiris, Tammuz, Jove, Quetzalcoatl, Cernunnos, Mithras, and worship them if we feel moved to do so.

Witches are pagans. We worship many gods and goddesses, but recognize all of them as aspects of the Great Goddess. Some witches worship both a lord and a lady, while others worship only the Goddess. For me, Thoth is the lord and Isis is the lady, but choosing what deities to serve, honor, or work with is something each witch decides for herself or himself.

This book is full of information about magic, how to cast spells and create them. Don't forget, however, that magic is only one part of Wicca. Witches use magic to improve their lives, but they also use it in service of the Goddess, as Part I of this book will explain.


All of Wicca's ethics and its moral code can be summed up in eight words. This is the Wiccan Rede, the law that we choose to live by:

And it harm none, do what you will.

This witches' saying is part of a poem, also commonly known as "The Wiccan Rede," which has long been handed from witch to witch, first in person and later through the Internet. Several slightly different versions of it have made the rounds, including one that modified the law to say, "Ever mind the Law of Three, lest in self-defense it be."

I always thought that the poem had been written by Doreen Valiente, working with material from Gerald Gardner's several Books of Shadows. Valiente, who was initiated by Gardner in 1953, wrote The Charge of the Goddess our most important prayer, and a beautiful poem called The Witch's Creed, but she did not write the Rede. The late Lady Gwen Thompson, high priestess of a Welsh tradition, wrote an article in Green Egg in 1975, saying this version of the Rede had been handed down to her by Adriana Porter, her grandmother, who was over 90 years old when she died in 1946.


Being known as the counsel of the Wise Ones:

1. Bide the Wiccan laws Wiccan laws ye must in perfect love an' perfect trust.

2. Live an' let live—fairly take an' fairly give.

3. Cast the Circle thrice about to keep all evil spirits out.

4. To bind the spell every time, let the spell be spake in rhyme.

5. Soft of eye an' light of touch-speak little, listen much.

6. Deosil go by the waxing Moon-sing an' dance the Wiccan rune.

7. Widdershins go when the Moon doth wane, an' the Werewolf howls by the dread Wolfsbane.

8. When the Lady's Moon is new, kiss the hand to her times two.

9. When the Moon rides at her peak then your heart's desire seek.

10. Heed the Northwind's mighty gale-lock the door and drop the sail.

11. When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss thee on the mouth.

12. When the wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.

13. When the West wind blows o'er thee, departed spirits restless be.

14. Nine woods in the Cauldron go-burn them quick an' burn them slow.

15. Elder be ye Lady's tree-burn it not or cursed ye'll be.

16. When the Wheel begins to turn-let the Beltane fires burn.

17. When the Wheel has turned a Yule, light the Log an' let Pan rule.

18. Heed ye flower, bush an' tree-by the Lady blessed be.

19. Where the rippling waters go cast a stone an' truth ye'll know.

20. When ye have need, hearken not to other's greed.

21. With the fool no season spend or be counted as his friend.

22. Merry meet an' merry part-bright the cheeks an' warm the heart.

23. Mind the Threefold Law ye should-three times bad an' three times good.

24. When misfortune is enow, wear the blue star on thy brow.

25. Ture in love ever be unless thy lover's false to thee.

26. Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill— an' it harm none, do what ye will


Wicca is a solitary religion for some of us, something we learned through books, lectures, or the Internet, or developed through personal experience and solitary practice. Some have studied Wicca in groves, study groups, or learning circles. Others grew up in Wiccan families, then chose Wicca for their own path. Many came to Wicca in the traditional way, through formal initiation into a coven that followed a specific tradition. Wiccan traditions include the following.

Gardnerian Wicca: Gerald Gardner's traditional path, which honors Aradia as the lady and Cernunnos as the lord. This is a formal, hierarchal path with skyclad worship and degrees of initiation. It focuses on rituals and male/female polarity. Covens have no more than thirteen members and are led by a high priestess with a high priest. Gardnerians believe it takes a witch to make a witch, and tend to disapprove of the newer "do-it-yourself" Wiccans.

Alexandrian Wicca: A formal, structured, neo-Gardnerian tradition founded by Alex and Maxine Sanders in England in the 1960s. Alexandrian and Gardnerian Wicca are sometimes referred to as Classical Wicca.

British Trad Wicca: This is a formal, structured tradition that mixes Celtic deities and spirituality with Gardenarian-type Wicca.

Celtic Wicca: This tradition incorporates Celtic god/desses and spirituality with green witchcraft and faery magic.

Dianic Wicca: Named for the goddess Diana, this is a goddess-centered tradition that excludes gods and does not require initiations. Although Dianic Wicca is sometimes thought of as a feminist or lesbian path, there are also male Dianic witches.

Faery Wicca: This is an Irish tradition that centers on green witchcraft and faery magic.

Teutonic Wicca: A Nordic tradition witchcraft, this incorporates deities, symbolism, and practices from Norse and Germanic cultures.

Family Traditions: These are the practices and traditions, usually secret, of families who have been witches for generations.

Some witches hold that you must have been taught the craft by a living relative before you can be considered a hereditary witch, no matter how many witchy ancestors you dig up when you unearth your family roots. I think that, like blue eyes and diabetes, witchcraft can be inherited. I get some letters that start, "We found a handwritten book in the attic ...," others from witches who have discovered ancestors who were accused or admitted witches, and yet others from young witches who receive spirit messages from ancestors that contain guidance on following the witches' path.

The gift often seems to skip a generation, passing from grand-parent to grandchild. Many witches were taught craft skills by their grandmothers, even if no one ever used the word witch-craft. Is there a connection between DNA and witchcraft? I think this would be an excellent subject for investigation by a scientific witch.

You may come across oxymoronic groups calling themselves Satanic Wiccans or Christian Wiccans. These are contradictions in terms. They are not Wiccan, no matter what they call themselves, regardless of whether they mean well by it or not.


Paganism is an umbrella term that covers many faiths, including Wicca. I have heard from both Native Americans and Hindus who find similarities between their own religions and Wicca. There are many roads to enlightenment, and all religions are equally valid. Wiccans respect other belief systems and value freedom of worship for all. Live and let live, as the Rede says.

Pagans are inclusive rather than exclusive. Karma, enlightenment, reincarnation, ch'i, Tantra, the Akashic Records—you are as likely to find witches discussing these things as adherents of the Eastern belief systems from which these words come. Ego, inner child, the unconscious, synchronicity, dream work—a group of witches is as likely to be using these terms as a group of psychiatrists might be.

Wiccans are polytheists who easily incorporate various god/desses and practices into their spells, prayers, and rituals. A witch who honors Sarasvati or Kwan Yin, however, will not do so in the same way as a Hindu or a Buddhist. Nor will a witch who has the raven for a spirit guide or the bear for a totem animal work with it in the same way that a Native American might.

Most witches believe in some form of reincarnation. We believe death is not an end, but a transition. We recognize the cycles of birth / death / rebirth just as we do the cycles of the seasons or the Moon. Some Wiccans believe we rest between incarnations in the Summerlands, a place where we are reunited with our loved ones before we are reborn in new bodies.

Excerpted from The Wicca HANDBOOK by Eileen Holland. Copyright © 2008 Eileen Holland. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Eileen Holland, a solitary, eclectic witch, Wiccan High Priestess, poet, and webmaster of Open-Sesame, is the author A Witch's Book of Answers and Spells for a Solitary Witch. Eileen has been a practicing Pagan and witch for twenty years. Visit her online at www. OpenSesame.com.

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Wicca Handbook 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was a wonderful book. i read the whole book in about 5 days. i will admit i didn't fully understand the book untill i read other books about wicca, but it is a great book for beginners. it tells you all about the basics. it doesn't give you many spells, but thats good you must be knowledgable of what your doing before you do it. also, to all those new wiccans out there, you shouldn't practice wicca until you are ready. ypu may say you are ready, but in your heart you will know you are not. it will just create bad energy for you and your magick so, be true to yourself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've been collecting books on Wicca, and this was the 1st and so far best book I own on the religion. It gives great information on how to write your own spells by giving direct usages for colors, metals, candles, incense, and animals. I recommend it for everyone!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read this book inside and out and as a fellow Wiccan, I am pleased that right from the beginning it explains that it is a earth religon, NOT sinical! The book makes a lot good points through out the book and distinguishes the facts, from the myths. I would reccomend this book to anyone that was a beginner.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This has to be the best book on Wicca I've found yet. I recommend it to all my friends who approch me about learning about the Wiccan ways. The Correspondces are great, and easy to use. Great for the solitary witch as well as those who belong to a coven. And great for beginners.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've only read the first part (it's in the reference section at the library) but I can't wait to finish it, then go buy it! I've only read a few books on Wicca, but this is definitly user-friendly. Everything is very practical and easy to understand.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a Wicca student, it cleared up some facts and helped me understand it into a deeper veiw. I know understand the basics of Wicca. It helped me on my way to becoming a official witch.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book answered a lot of questions I had.And I learned a lot about the wiccan religion.It wasn't for me but I agree with a lot of the rules and some of the beliefs. And I learned that I am a natural witch.
Guest More than 1 year ago
ok, i am a young wiccan, and my mom is a wiccan, she recomended i read this, and it tought me so much, i would recommend this book to anyone who wants to be a wiccan or is studying it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this text to be high-handed, sanctimonious, and self-serving. Phylis Curot and Ly deAngelis are much better sources for beginners in that they move seamlessly from theory to practice. Holland obfuscates where Curot and deAngeles illunimate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book a few years ago when I first began studying Wicca. It was a waste of money. It teaches hardly anything about the path and only gives the reader crumbs of information. If you are serious about Wicca, then I wouldn't suggest this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book lets you know the facts from the fiction , it tells you basically EVERYTHING you would need to know about becoming a wiccan , it helps you learn what wicca is really about , the elements , the tools , and it gives you a ' how to ' in writing spells , making invocations , etc. Eileen Holland is just a great influence , and can really teach you a lot through her writing.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Eileen Holland does a wonderful job explaining what wicca is, who Goddess is, and all the details. I highly recommend this book to even beginners; I , myself am a beginner and I believed it would be so hard to become Wiccan and practice spells, but Eileen makes it seem on a scale of difficulty 1 - 10, she makes it seem like a 7. I do not recommend reading this book and Teen Witch by Silver Ravenwolf at the same time, they both discuss the facts differently, and Teen Witch is harder to understand than Wicca Handbook.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book has everything you'll ever need. Me and my whole family use it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anyone with negative reviews is merely upset that this book is cut and dry with no spells! This is a great book that is designed for beginners in wicca. if you are looking for one book, or author I would recommend Silver Ravenwolf. Her books are insightful, inspirational, and detailed. I recommend her book of Shadows for the solitary witch!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great beginners guide. Couldn't ask for a better introduction to Wicca.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has showed me a new way of presseption of the world