Scott Cunningham practiced magic actively for over twenty years. He was the author of more than fifty books covering both fiction and non-fiction subject matter; sixteen of his titles are published by Llewellyn Publications. Scott's books reflect a broad range of interests within the New Age sphere, where he was very highly regarded. His work Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, is one of the most successful books on Wicca ever published; 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.
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 family moved to San Diego, California in the fall of 1959 due to 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 all his life.
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 to pursue a solo practice of witchcraft.
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.
In 1983, Scott Cunningham was diagnosed with lymphoma, which he successfully overcame. 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.
Scott Cunningham Bibliography:
- 1980 - Shadow of Love (fiction)
- 1982 - Magical Herbalism: The Secret Craft 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: Spells and Rituals for the Home (with David Harrington) (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 (with David Harrington) (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 1970s or early 1980s.