Out of the Broomcloset bookshelf: “Mastering Witchcraft”

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One of the book covers of
One of the book covers of "Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide For Witches, Warlocks & Covens" by Paul Hudson

Out of the Broomcloset bookshelf

Paul Huson
Paul Huson

First, let me admit that I had a crush on Paul Huson in the early 1970’s, before I even knew what he looked like. Sure, there was Michael Landon in his Bonanza days, and David Cassidy in the Rolling Stone article with the Annie Lebowitz photo (showing the top of the palm tree, as it were), but Huson is special in other ways.

As I now know, he was born in England, to a journalist father and a fine artist mother, had an fine education, acted a bit (was one of the two Princes in the Tower, in Laurence Olivier’s film of William Shakespeare’s Richard III), moved to LA and had a successful career as a screenwriter, with his partner, William Bast (The Colby’s, anyone, or Danielle Steele’s Secrets?). They were together until William’s untimely death from Alzheimer’s in 2015.

When not writing, Huson has returned to his first passion, painting, wonderful, powerful male figure compositions.

Another book cover of "Mastering Witchcraft"
Another book cover of “Mastering Witchcraft”

Well, enough biographical information, now for the main focus of this column, books you need for your journey on whatever magickal path you might consider.

For those of you not around at the time, the dawning of the age of Aquarius included book publishers large and small wanting to cash in the occult revival. Quite a bit of it was on the trashy side, (How To Be A Sensuous Witch) but then there was also Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft originally published by Putnam, and now having it’s golden anniversary.

For many, starting in 1970, and continuing to the present day, this book gave/gives them the jitters. And why, you might ask? I’ll tell you.

There’s always been a frustrating divide, in occult circles, remaining to this day; you can learn about magic, but there are restrictions, caveats, cautions that some will entangle around the subject so completely that, in the end, everyone talks about magic, but no one dares attempt it.

Want to try a love spell? Oh, but what about free will, or the three-fold law (key in some Wiccan circles, whatever you do will come back to you three-fold); and on, and on, and so forth. If you’ve read, or watched the adaptation of Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, it’s spot on in this regard.

Mastering Witchcraft takes a different approach; want to attract something, or someone? Here’s a couple dozen exact ways to do it. The same holds true for protection, or to go on the offensive. The book is chock full of things you probably wanted to do if you have any interest in exploring spell work at all. Is it all inclusive; no, but it provides the basics.

Side by side comparison of editions
“Mastering Witchcraft” by Paul Huson side by side comparison of editions

I will admit that there are parts that have not aged quite as well; some of the historical bits, while pretty standard when written, would be considered a bit, “convenient myth.”

Then there’s the chapter on forming a coven; the information contained in it was, at the time, not generally shared in print, but is fairly common knowledge now, as such things go. But yes, the coven rituals are “correct.”

Finally, the subtitle, “A Practical Guide For Witches, Warlocks & Covens” still throws some into a tizzy, the word warlock that is.

Like so many descriptive terms, it can be pejorative, or empowering. I leave that up to you; in general, it’s rather theatrical, pretentious, and not much used.

calendar wheel of the year edition
The calendar wheel of the year edition is seen here.

So, do you want to be a reader, or a collector? If you go to

paulhuson.com, he does a fine job of describing all of his output; the links all lead to Amazon. I know, a disappointment, but I can’t recall seeing new copies in brick and mortar stores. It wouldn’t hurt to ask, though.

Now, if you’re a collector, there are a few tips, accompanied by photos here. The book originally came out in hardcover, with a dust jacket, from a major publisher. Then there was a Book of the Month Club offering, finally going to paperback a couple of years later, and issued by several different publishers to the present day. Between the two versions of the hard cover, there had to have been several tens of thousands published.

Despite this quantity existing, copies generally sell from $60 or so dollars to several hundred. Some dealers will pass off as “special” a hardcover without the dust jacket, showing the embossed calendar wheel of the year; it’s not, the invoicing was done on every copy, both regular and book club edition.

Contents page in "Mastering Witchcraft"
Contents page in “Mastering Witchcraft”

So, to wrap things up, you owe it to yourself to own a copy of this book, as it will give you a good practical background of spells you can use, whether a practiced hand, or a curious newcomer.

Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide For Witches, Warlocks & Covens, by Paul Huson, is available on Amazon.