A History Of Witchcraft, Sorcerers, Heretics, And Pagans by Jeffrey B. Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Magick and sorcery have been with mankind since the beginning. Witchcraft being the most popular branch of of has perked the curiousity of many people. This book give a real accurate accounting of it's developement spanning from man's humble beginnings up until the present. This book lays it out in a simple to understand format with the main ideas of the author expressed and then supported by trackable facts. There are a few details that are left out that those who are familiar with the modern craft would know should defintley be included. There are three phases to witchcraft. I shall call them sorcerous, diabolical and neo-pagan.
Early sorcerey recognized that there were hidden connections between various objects like words, herbs, stones and other things. The sorcerer knew how to exploit these and get results. Often times sorcerers were accused of blighting crops, sickening cattle and occasionally striking people with magic. If one was convicted of sorcery one could get lashes of a fine. Sorcery and witchcraft seem to have the same associations world over regardless of origins. Witches were knows to fly at night, haunt little babies and suck the blood of their victims. this holds true whether in Europe, Africa or South America. One African tribe has it that there are people who practice good magic, bad magic and then there are witches who seem to have the power within. The core magick practices come from the Graeco-Roman era. This is the basis for many practices associated with witches. Sorcery used folk magic, pagan religion and other local things. The Roman goddess Diana was the goddess of witchcraft. Artemis was a virgin huntress of the moon who Diana was patterned after. Later she got conflated with Holda or Perchta who were Norse fertility deities. This added a lust.fertility aspect to Diana. Diana's darker aspect was Hekate a three faced goddess of the underworld. The early pagans brooked no issue with having female deities or deities that could be both good and bad. Christianity did.
Christianity did not over take Europe so quickly. Paganism survived until 1100 in many places. Still Christianity was brital in the way it snuffed out opposition. It is argued that Paganism did not survive but rather there were customs and practices that survived from PAganism into Christianity. Many of these like Saint Hallows Eve, Christmas (Yule and Saturnalia), Walpugis night and others did not die away but survived in Christian form. It was during the Rennaissacne time that sorcery and witch craft got linked up with Satanism. Hersy was considered Satanic, practicing magic was considered Satanic. Witches and hereetics were accused of noght time revels cavorting with the devil and all sort of inaapropriate things. Witches were considered demon worhsipper. For this they were burned at the stake and murdered. There was no benefit of fair trials and the means of execution were horrid.Often times those accused were not actual witches but rather they were defenseless old ladies who served convenient scapegoat. This was know as the burning times.
During the 18th-19th century author's like Michelet proposed the theory that witches were good. They were remanants of an ancient Pagan religion that had a god and goddess. In a sense a fertility cult that withsttod the tyranical onlsaught of Christianity. Frazier would pick with the idea of the sarificial king in his Gold Bough. Charles leland wrote about about Italain Withccraft and the continued worship of Diana. Margaret Murry wrote on the Witchcult of Europe. All these were later discredited by the academic community yet these works also helped birth neopagan withccraft.
Most people think that gerald Gardner made up Wicca. So do I. yetr is still valid as a religious system because it answeers a need. All religions were made up at one point hence they aare all false and man made. The last part of teh book covers the bracnches of wicca and the people who made changes. It leaves out some keyplayers in the witchcraft world. Robert Cohrane for one who was one of Gardners opponents. He was a practitioner of "The Clan of Tubal caine" Victor and Cora Andersen who practiced the Feri tradition of Witchcraft were only made small mention of . These two branches though not Wicca are definitre branches of withcraft that should have been discussed. they have a goddess and god tradition as well and they do come beffore Wicca. Also there was no mention of Lamas Night whne witches used magic to repel Hitler's forces. Gardner and Crowley were supposedly part of this. Why no mention of such an important event?
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