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Scott Cunningham

Wicca and Occult author Scott Cunningham
Born June 27, 1956
Michigan, United States
Died March 28, 1993 (aged 36)
Occupation Writer

Scott Douglas Cunningham (June 27, 1956 – March 28, 1993) was the author of several books on Wicca and various other alternative religious subjects.

His work Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, is one of the most successful books on Wicca ever published[1]; he was a friend of notable occultists and Wiccans such as Raymond Buckland, and was a member of the Serpent Stone Family, and received his Third Degree Initiation as a member of that coven.


Personal life

Scott Cunningham was born at the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, USA, the second son of Chester Grant Cunningham and Rose Marie Wilhoit Cunningham.

The Cunningham family moved to San Diego, California in the fall of 1959. The family moved there because of Rose Marie's health problems. The doctors in Royal Oak declared the mild climate in San Diego ideal for her. Outside of many trips to Hawaii, Cunningham lived in San Diego until his death.

Cunningham had one older brother, Greg, and a younger sister, Christine.

When he was in high school he became associated with a girl whom he knew to deal in the occult and covens. This classmate introduced him to Wicca and trained him in Wiccan spirituality. He studied creative writing at San Diego State University, where he enrolled in 1978. After two years in the program, however, he had more published works than several of his professors, and dropped out of the university to write full time. During this period he had as a roommate magical author Donald Michael Kraig and often socialized with witchcraft author Raymond Buckland, who was also living in San Diego at the time. In 1980 Cunningham began initiate training under Raven Grimassi and remained as a first-degree initiate until 1982 when he left the tradition in favor of a self-styled form of Wicca.

In 1983, Scott Cunningham was diagnosed with lymphoma, which he successfully battled. In 1990, while on a speaking tour in Massachusetts, he suddenly fell ill and was diagnosed with AIDS-related cryptococcal meningitis. He suffered from several infections and died in March 1993. He was 36.

Religious beliefs

Cunningham practiced a fairly basic interpretation of Wicca, often worshipping alone, though his book series for solitaries describes several instances in which he worshipped with friends and teachers.

He also believed that Wicca, which had been a closed tradition since the 1950s, should become more open to newcomers.

Cunningham was also drawn to Huna and a range of new age movements and concepts that influenced and coloured his spirituality.

Published works



Cover of Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, Cunningham's most successful book
  • 1980 - Shadow of Love (fiction)
  • 1982 - [[Magical Herbalism: The Secret of the Wise (ISBN 0-87542-120-2)
  • 1983 - Earth Power: Techniques of Natural Magic (ISBN 0-87542-121-0)
  • 1985 - Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs (ISBN 0-87542-122-9)
  • 1987 - The Magical Household (ISBN 0-87542-124-5)
  • 1987 - Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem, and Metal Magic (ISBN 0-87542-126-1)
  • 1988 - The Truth About Witchcraft Today (ISBN 0-87542-127-X)
  • 1988 - Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner (ISBN 0-87542-118-0)
  • 1989 - The Complete Book of Incense, Oils & Brews (ISBN 0-87542-128-8)
  • 1989 - Magical Aromatherapy: The Power of Scent (ISBN 0-87542-129-6)
  • 1991 - Earth, Air, Fire, and Water: More Techniques of Natural Magic (ISBN 0-87542-131-8)
  • 1991 - The Magic in Food (ISBN 0-87542-130-X)
  • 1993 - Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen (ISBN 0-7387-0226-9)
  • 1993 - Divination For Beginners (ISBN 0-7387-0384-2)
  • 1993 - Living Wicca: A Further Guide for the Solitary Practitioner (ISBN 0-87542-184-9)
  • 1993 - Spell Crafts: Creating Magical Objects (ISBN 0-87542-185-7)
  • 1993 - The Truth About Herb Magic (ISBN 0-87542-132-6)
  • 1994 - The Truth About Witchcraft (ISBN 0-87542-357-4)
  • 1995 - Hawaiian Magic and Spirituality (ISBN 1-56718-199-6)
  • 1997 - Pocket Guide to Fortune Telling (ISBN 0-89594-875-3)
  • 1999 - Dreaming the Divine: Techniques for Sacred Sleep (ISBN 1-56718-192-9)
  • 2009 - Cunningham's Book of Shadows: The Path of An American Traditionalist (ISBN 0-73871-914-5)* A rediscovered manuscript written by Cunningham in the late 70's or early 80's. Set to be released October 2009.[2]

Art by Robin Wood

Several of Scott's books include black and white drawings and (in some editions) cover art by the Wiccan artist Robin Wood.[1] Among these books are Magical Herbalism, Earth Power, and Earth, Air, Fire, Water.


  • Herb Magic (ISBN 0-87542-117-2)

Film references

Cunningham's Wicca book in the film Never Say Macbeth

Never Say Macbeth, a 2007 film, is based around a group of actors who battle the curse of Macbeth by using Scott's book, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. This film was released on DVD by Vanguard Cinema in August, 2008 [2]

See also


  1. ^ "His books on Wicca led to a steady rise in his popularity, and he soon became one of the best-read Wiccan authors of his time. Sales of his most popular book Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner (Llewellyn, 1988), reached over 400,000 copies by the year 2000"
  2. ^
  • Several of Scott's own books contain autobiographical text.
  • Rosemary Ellen Guiley, The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft.
  • Raven Grimassi, Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft.
  • David Harrington, Whispers of the Moon: The Life and Work of Scott Cunningham, Philosopher-Magician, Modern-Day Pagan.

External links


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