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5 Best Books on Witch Trials & Ancient Mysticism

Posted on November 19 2021

5 Best Books on Witch Trials & Ancient Mysticism

The Salem Witch Trials, which took place between 1692 and 1693, were a targeted act of violence towards women. While most people are familiar with the stories or legends of this horrific event in American history, many don’t realize just how far back the fear of the occult goes. From Joan of Arc to the witch hunts of the middle ages, the fear of witches is almost as ancient as humankind itself. 

From fascinating historical reads that explore the roots of the very concept of spirituality to fictional tales of witch trials, we’ve compiled an informative and entertaining list of books that cover everything from infamous historical events to the very idea of human mysticism. Plus, let’s not forget, the attack on the very nature of being a woman. 

So whether you’re ready to grab a broomstick and rock a pointy black hat or are simply curious about the more historical perspective of such legends, you’ll find a new favorite book below.


#1 - Witchcraft: A Secret History 

witchcraft book cover

Let’s kick things off with a compelling book that sets the stage for modern witchcraft. Spanning several centuries and comprising unbelievable facts (and little-known legends), meet all the witches of your imagination and learn why, where and how it all began. Uncover the meanings of their rituals and rites, their lore, and their craft. 

Discover the significance of their sabbats and covens, their chalices and wands, their robes and their religion. Plus, unlock the secrets of the legendary witches of mythology and folktales to find out how these early stories influenced the persecutions and witch hunts of the Middle Ages. 

Learn so much more in depth about the people who inspired the pagan revival and how their work in literature and magic rekindled the fires of the sabbats across Europe and the New World today. This addictive read features spell-binding historic and contemporary pictures that perfectly capture the key characters, events and wonders of this captivating, colourful and controversial history.

Buy Witchcraft: A Secret History >

#2 - The Fifth Petal 

the fifth petal book cover

If you’d prefer a fictional account of the infamous Salem and it’s witch trials, this is the perfect book for you. It follows the story of a teenage boy who dies suspiciously on Halloween night. Salem's chief of police, John Rafferty, wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem’s most notorious cold case, a triple homicide dubbed "The Goddess Murders," in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. He finds unexpected help in Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims newly returned to town. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian, is guilty of murder or witchcraft.

But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?

Buy The Fifth Petal >

#3 - Women Who Run With The Wolves

black and gold book cover

Within every woman there lives a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. She is the Wild Woman, who represents the instinctual nature of women. But she is an endangered species. For though the gifts of wildish nature belong to us at birth, society’s attempt to “civilize” us into rigid roles has muffled the deep, life-giving messages of our own souls.

In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés unfolds rich intercultural myths, fairy tales, folk tales, and stories, many from her own traditions, in order to help women reconnect with the fierce, healthy, visionary attributes of this instinctual nature. Through the stories and commentaries in this remarkable book, we retrieve, examine, love, and understand the Wild Woman, and hold her against our deep psyches as one who is both magic and medicine.

Buy Women Who Run With The Wolves >

#4 - Freemasonry: The Alchemy of Science & Mysticism

Isaac Newton book cover

If you’re a major history buff, we’ve found the perfect book for you to dive into. This is a fascinating exploration of how modern Freemasonry enabled Isaac Newton and his like-minded contemporaries to flourish. In Isaac Newton’s Freemasonry, Alain Bauer presents the swirl of historical, sociological, and religious influences that sparked the spiritual ferment and transformation of that time.

His research shows that Freemasonry represented a crossroads between science and spirituality and became the vehicle for promoting spiritual and intellectual egalitarianism. Isaac Newton was seminal in the “invention” of this new form of Freemasonry, which allowed Newton and other like-minded associates to free themselves of the church’s monopoly on the intellectual milieu of the time. 

This form of Freemasonry created an ideological blueprint that sought to move England beyond the civil wars generated by its religious conflicts to a society with scientific progress as its foundation and standard. The “science” of these men was rooted in the Hermetic tradition and included alchemy and even elements of magic. Yet, in contrast to the endless reinterpretations of church doctrine that fueled the conflicts ravaging England, this new society of Accepted Freemasons provided an intellectual haven and creative crucible for scientific and political progress. 

This book reveals the connections of Rosslyn Chapel, Henry Sinclair, and the Invisible College to Newton’s role in 17th-century Freemasonry and opens unexplored trails into the history of Freemasonry in Europe. 

Buy Freemasonry >

#5 - Trance Journeys of The Hunter-Gatherers

book cover

Early humankind ran with the animals, lived with the animals, and was one with the wild symphony of the natural world. But as humanity shifted from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to one of farming and cities, embracing the modern worldview of man’s superiority over nature, we began ignoring our innate connection with the Earth. Now we are waking up to what we’ve lost, yearning to heal our relationship with the Earth and rekindle the oneness with nature that we naturally enjoyed as children. 

Drawing on the work of Felicitas Goodman, Thomas Berry, Ervin Laszlo, and other important voices calling for recognition of our connection with all life, author Nicholas Brink shows how ecstatic trance can return us to profound union with our Great Mother, the Earth.

He details the specific healing and spiritual powers of trance postures and rituals from a variety of hunter-gatherer societies, including ancient Celtic, Norse, Native American, and South American traditions. He explains how the shamanic techniques of ecstatic trance allow us to access waking-dreamlike visions where we can connect with animal spirit guides, the six directions, and the seasons and discover ways to help heal the Earth. 

Sharing personal trance experiences of healing, spiritual connection, and divination, Brink shows how these practices enable us to create personal rituals to maintain oneness with all life. He reveals the spiritual power of being one with your environment and experiencing the spirits of everything around you. And, as we reconnect with the spirit of the Earth, we can once again experience the world not only as alive but also enchanted.

Buy Trance Journeys >

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At Marissa’s Books we’re dedicated to helping you find the best books for your personalized interests. Visit our other recommended reads and guides to discover even more great books you’ll love. 

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