Thursday 8 November 2007

Book learning

Should I keep books I will probably never read? As I said in my last post, I inherited a large collection of occult books. Some of them are about a hundred years old: Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine, Alan Leo's Casting the Horoscope and a first edition of H G Well's A Year of Prophesying to name a few. I love to type at my computer at my Victorian schoolteacher's desk, surrounded by historic words of magical wisdom from long-dead masters, even though I may never take the dusty volumes from the bookcase shelves.

They also reminder me of my grandma and my father. My grandma wasn’t a witch but she was a theosophist and an astrologer. She died before I was old enough to learn much magical lore from her, but two things she told me when I was very young have stuck with me:

“You can do whatever you want so long as you don’t harm anyone.”
“Everyone has their own spiritual path and makes their own journey but they all
end at the same destination.”
At the age of around five or six I thought these things were just common sense rather than core beliefs of many pagan and occult traditions. And they are common sense, too.

But do I need those old books? They aren’t part of my spiritual path, at least at the moment. Should I keep them, unread, and let them moulder or should I pass them on to someone who would use them?

I recently had to box them up and send them into storage while the study was decorated so I decided to get them valued. I emailed a list of the titles to , the email address for Treadwells bookshop, 34 Tavistock St, Covent Garden, London, which specialises in cultural history and esoteric belief. Christina, the owner, suggested that I save myself a considerable fee and value them myself, using

Yes, the books were valuable. I could auction them and make enough money for a great holiday.

But I’m still undecided on what would be best for me and for the books.

When the books came out of storage, I freecycled the packing boxes and got a lovely email from the man I offered them to, signed:

“God bless you now and always.”
I was left with another dilemma: would a Christian want a load of boxes marked: “Occult tomes”?


An auction house that specialises in books:


Anonymous said...

You should start a library. Lend the books to people who are interested. Perhaps someone will be keen enough to scan them in so you could put them online.

If you sell them, they'll probably just go to a collector, who wouldn't read them either.

Badwitch said...

I'd be happy to lend them to friends. I'm not totally sure what the copyright situation would be about scanning them though.

Anonymous said...

Oooh - I can just see it now - the BadWitch Lending Library. But what would a witch-librarian wear? Black twinset, tweed cloak and sensible shoes with silver buckles would look charming...

Anonymous said...

Copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author. Many of your books are therefore well out of copyright.

Badwitch said...

That sounds OK then. For some reason I thought the time had increased recently to about 150 years.