Rare Occult Books: Guide to Magical Literature

Updated March 25, 2022
Bloody candle with rustic key on witch book in candle light

If you're looking for an occult book that's rare or hard to find, an online bookstore that specializes in occult works may have the exact title that you want. Rare occult books are prized by collectors who're interested in the supernatural, and they have an added bit of mystery because of their subject matter. You can find them at specialized bookstores and websites, but it's important to be careful; reprints and reproductions abound.

What Is a Rare Occult Book?

As with any other desirable text, a rare occult book is one that's difficult to find. Often these books are rare, either because they're old or simply because they're out of print. Of course, being rare doesn't automatically make a book valuable, but as it turns out, many rare occult books actually are quite valuable to interested collectors.

'Manuel Maconnique, ou Tuileur des Divers Rites de Maconnerie Pratiquee en France', by Maxime Vuillaume, published 1820

The more difficult part of defining these books is determining what exactly makes a book an 'occult' book. It's common that people might automatically think of witches and pagans when they think of the occult, but those subjects aren't the end of the story; occult books are sometimes called "esoteric" as well. They might have subject matters relating to magic, ancient religions, or secret societies that aren't well understood by outside parties.

For instance, one online bookstore that sells occult books, PoTO Books and Herb Company, has categories of books that include:

You might also find books about voodoo, ghosts, mediums, people with unexplained powers, and even UFOs classified under the "occult."

Rare Books on the Occult

While there is a treasure trove of antique and vintage books out there exploring aspects of the occult, it's nearly impossible to collect all of them at once. Thus, if you're a newfound collector, you'll probably want to focus on books that're considered particularly unique or popular. For example, the following are several occult books that're considered very rare:

A compleat History of Magick, Sorcery & withcraft
  • One of the earliest published occult books, De Lamiis et Pythonicis Mulieribus by Ulrich Molitor, is considered one of the rarest, if not the rarest, occult book. Published in 1489, it was also the first occult book to include illustrations.
  • Another extremely rare occult book published in 1744 is Les Œuvres Magiques de Henri-Corneille Agrippa by Pierre d'Aban. The book includes many occult secrets, including the evocation of spirits and ceremonial magick.
  • The original manuscript of Aleister Crowley's The Book of Thoth is a very important work about tarot practices.
  • Aleister Crowley's The Collected Works (1905-1907) is a set of three books on the author's knowledge of magick, mythology, and religion. The first edition, sole printing, is very rare.
  • A Complete History of Magick, Sorcery, and Witchcraft (1715) by Richard Boulton includes various accounts and explanations of the relationships between magick, witchcraft, and sorcery. The book also includes an account of the first rise of witches and sorcerers, accounts of scarce witch trials, and a collection of arguments against witchcraft by John Locke.

Where to Find Rare Occult Books

It's relatively easy to find rare occult books online, as many websites are set up to sell occult books or have these books as part of their inventory. Here are a few good places to start your search:

  • Caduceus Books - Caduceus Books is a British bookstore specializing in secondhand and occult books. Located in Leicester, the small shop isn't open to the general public, and the shop doesn't currently have any way to purchase occult books on their website; however, you can send the owner an email to be signed up to receive future correspondences listing what's available.
  • Harrington Books - Another British book shop, Harrington Books specializes in all sorts of rare books, from the contemporary to the antique. While their catalog isn't exclusively made up of occult books, there's always a chance that you can find a few in their newest listings.
  • Weiser Antiquarian Books - With over 10,000 texts to its name, the Weiser Antiquarian Books shop is one of the leading places to go to if you're looking for books on the occult, mystical, or religious. From alchemy to Aleister Crowley, and everything in between, Weiser has it all.
  • Anathema Books - From books about astral projection to texts on Freemasonry, Anathema Books has a ton of occult books to offer. Granted, browsing through their website might send you back on a Y2K fieldtrip, but while you're there, you're sure to find a book or two to take home with you.
  • BerkelouW Books - BerkelouW Books has been operating since 1812 and offers rare books of nearly every subject matter you can think of. Their occult books tend to range in price anywhere between $150-$1,000, on average.

Of course, the general used bookstores like Powell's, Alibris, and AbeBooks are all good choices for looking for rare occult books. These websites all have rare book "rooms" that feature older books as well as first editions and leather-bound volumes.

If all else fails, a final place online you might want to look is eBay. You never know what you're going to find on the giant auction site, and you just might find the perfect rare book you've been looking for.

Places to Look for Occult Books In-Person

In the offline world, search your local rare bookstore or used bookstore, if you have one, for the occult texts of your dreams. It's also a great idea to make friends with the owner or buyer and let them know what you're looking for. If they don't have books to suit your taste, odds are they'll start buying some when they see them and can even start holding them for you as they acquire them.

Author Nevill Drury and his book on the Occult

Other places to look for a rare occult book include antique stores, estate sales and garage sales. You're less likely to find exactly what you want one of these places, but if you ever get word that there's an auction or estate sale involving lots of old books, it might be worth a visit just in case there's something there that you can't live without.

Occult Books' Current Market Values

It can be difficult to discern the true market value of rare occult books because it's such a niche collectors market, but if you can find an expert who's willing to look at your collection, you should be able to get a good estimate of what your books are worth.

If you're trying to decide if a book you want to buy is worth the money, try to find other copies of the book, if any are available, to compare prices. Of course the condition of different rare books, particularly old ones, can vary widely, so don't go for the bargain-priced book unless you're only buying the book for the information inside and don't care if the spine is broken or the pages are falling out.

Book for celebrating satanic masses, ca 1850

That being said, the market is constantly in flux, with editions costing anywhere between a $100-$100,000, depending on a variety of factors. Occult books on well-known subjects like the Knights of the Templar or the Freemasons are likely to sell quickly, if not for a lot of money. Similarly, texts from the 15th and 16th centuries are quite difficult to find, and so they'll usually sell for much higher prices than more recent books will. For instance, these are a few rare occult books that've recently come to market:

When you go to sell any rare occult books you've accumulated, heading to online auction websites or to your local used bookstore is again a good idea. Compare prices on your particular title if you can find it, or on other occult books from the same era. Knock out the highest and lowest prices and take an average of the rest. That will give you a good idea of a fair price for your book.

A Word of Caution

If you're thinking of purchasing a book on the occult that's generally considered rare and the price seems unusually low, check to make certain the book isn't a reproduction, digital reproduction, or an ebook that's being sold. Many rare and hard-to-find occult books are being reproduced and sold in these crafty ways. For example, The Book Of Occult Power (1801) by Sephariel, is highly sought after. The book is also called the Manual of Occultism and is also being sold as an ebook on several websites. Naturally, if you're only interested in the information the book contains, then these reproductions are a great buy, but if you're looking for an authentic work to add to a collection, you need to make sure that you're getting the real thing.

Crack Open the Hidden Mysteries of the Universe

From the mystical to the magical, the occult has fascinated the world at large since before science was even a considerable pursuit. Yet, remnants of this fact-finding precursor to our modern intellectual frameworks can be found hidden in the pages of antique and vintage books. These rare occult books aren't as difficult to procure as their subject matter may make them seem, but given their rarity, it might actually be a tougher time getting to them before anyone else does than you might think it is.

Rare Occult Books: Guide to Magical Literature