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The Witching Year

A Memoir of Earnest Fumbling Through Modern Witchcraft



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About The Book

A skeptic spends a year trying to find spiritual fulfillment by practicing modern Witchcraft in this fascinating memoir that’s perfect for fans of A.J. Jacobs and Mary Roach.

Diana Helmuth, thirty-three, is skeptical of organized religion. She is also skeptical of disorganized religion. But, more than anything, she is tired of God being dead. So, she decides to try on the fastest-growing, self-directed faith in America: Witchcraft.

The result is 366 days of observation, trial, error, wit, and back spasms. Witches today are often presented as confident and finished, proud and powerful. Diana is eager to join them. She wants to follow all the rules, memorize all the incantations, and read all the liturgy. But there’s one glaring problem: no Witch can agree on what the right rules, liturgy, and incantations are.

As with life, Diana must define the craft for herself, looking past the fashionable and figuring out how to define the real. Along the way, she travels to Salem and Edinburgh (two very Crafty hubs) and attends a week-long (clothing optional) Witch camp in Northern California. Whether she’s trying to perform a full moon ritual on a cardboard box, summon an ancient demon with scotch tape and a kitchen trivet, or just trying to become a calmer, happier person, her biggest question remains: Will any of this really work?

The Witching Year is a “compelling memoir” (Frances Denny, author of Major Arcana) that follows in the footsteps of celebrated memoirs by journalists like A.J. Jacobs, Mary Roach, and Caitlin Doughty, who knit humor and reportage together in search of something worth believing.

About The Author

Photograph by Robin King

Diana Helmuth writes about urges: to travel, to be in nature, and to feel understood. Her first book, How to Suffer Outside, was a National Outdoor Book Award winner, and her freelance work can be found in various anthologies, travel guides, and humor magazines. She studied anthropology and Arabic at UC Berkeley, and can often be caught moonlighting in Silicon Valley’s start-up land, or producing the occasional podcast. She was born and raised in Northern California.

Product Details

  • Publisher: S&S/Simon Element (October 3, 2023)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668002988

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Raves and Reviews

“[Helmuth’s] wry tone will charm readers, and those who have taken on similar spiritual quests will relate to the author’s desire to know if she’s ‘doing it right.’ Aspiring witches and readers itching to learn more about the occult will find inspiration and amusement.” -Publisher's Weekly

“Both readable and relatable, this book models how a person seeking faith outside of organized religion's rigidity might conduct a search for authentic connection and belief.” –Emily Dziuban, Booklist

"Along the way, she [Diana] never stops making us laugh. If you’re witchcraft-curious in the least, do not miss this delightful, thoughtful book.” -Bookpage

"Before I started reading this book, I had a limited and warped view of wicca, sort of like Diana’s mom who asked when she was going to start sacrificing animals. But thanks to The Witching Year, I got an entertaining crash course in this tradition. Diana is a wonderful guide, and her journey is thoughtful, funny, simultaneously open-minded and filled with doubt, and dare I say it, magical. I rooted her on as she learned her first hex, summoned the elements, and sprinkled spices around her house." —AJ Jacobs, bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically

"This is a book that I shall keep. It is the best available portrait of witchcraft in contemporary America. It is also highly intelligent, extremely funny, and good-hearted, and it asks some profound questions to which it provides plausible answers. Understanding attitudes to magic is another way of understanding people, and this book enables us to do both better." -Ronald Hutton, author of Triumph of the Moon

"I made it to p. 8 before my pen was out, taking notes in the margins. Helmuth’s book is a witty crash course in witchcraft cloaked in the guise of a compelling memoir about one woman's quest for spiritual fulfillment. This is a valuable read for the blushing witch-curious among you."Frances Denny, author of Major Arcana

"Diana is a fearless and fun guide in The Witching Year, delightfully bumbling through the occult, engaging the questions we're scared to admit we've been asking, too. I laughed out loud many times and felt a kindred connection to Diana's earnest search for a larger meaning. She demonstrates that magic is made in the process of seeking." —Lorraine Monteagut, author of Brujas

"Helmuth's Witching Year is a deeply human recounting of one woman's mission to craft and discover what often feels undiscoverable. It is so rare to see a heart bared in this way as Diana shares her deeply intimate walk on her quest to claiming her space at the Witching table. Witty, raw and relatable, it feels like being invited along to a close friend's personal, spiritual journey; the tears, the laughs and the realizations that may just surprise you." —Rebecca Beyer, author of Wild Witchcraft

"In The Witching Year, everywoman Diana Helmuth is looking to answer life’s biggest questions. Her spell is a year-long quest filled with self-doubt and unforgettable humor. This is the rare book that's both a transcendent spiritual journey and a laugh-out-loud read." -Joanna Robinson, writer and podcaster at The Ringer and author the forthcoming MCU: The Rise of Marvel Studios

"Stirring up a perfect brew of history, honesty and humor, Diana Helmuth's The Witching Year is a magical read for those searching for true north." -Kristin Russo, host of Buffering the Vampire Slayer

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