Within these pages you will find a variety of witches, sorcerers, magicians, alchemists, and spiritual leaders. Some embrace the title “witch”; others would be appalled to be associated with witchcraft. Some are names you would expect to find here; others may be shocking in their inclusion.
Are the following portraits representative of the history of witchcraft? No.
There are a disproportionate number of men. The history of male magicians, particularly astrologers, alchemists, and High Ceremonial magicians is very well documented: their names, histories, and achievements are well known. Female practitioners, especially folk magicians, herbalists, and healers have typically labored in obscurity. Often their very names are unknown.
Witchcraft, along with its related arts, has largely been forbidden for the past two thousand years. The few who practiced relatively publicly tended to be male, well educated and either wealthy or under the protection of powerful and prominent people. The vast majority who practiced discreetly has no left record of their actions. Those who embrace a more theatrical vision of witchcraft (Aleister Crowley, for instance) have far more recognition than their peers who hewed to discretion (for example, Franz Bardon).
When Gerald Gardner published Witchcraft Today in 1954, he initiated a new phenomenon: the witch or practitioner as author and teacher. Since then, thousands of books have been published, delineating all facets of witchcraft, Wicca, the magical arts, and Neo-Paganism.
Now, in the first decades of the twenty-first century, for the first time, many, particularly solitary practitioners, learn arts and traditions from books. This is history in the making; space precludes closer examination. The following list includes but a few of many prominent, influential authors:
Stephanie Rose Bird
Stewart and Janet Farrar
Wherever possible, accurate dates of birth and death are offered for the practitioners below; however in some cases this is just not possible. Births were not always recorded; some dates are problematic. Sometimes various dates are offered and sometimes no date can even be conjectured. Some alchemists may or may not be immortal, thus rendering possible dates of death irrelevant.