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A History of Witchcraft

Sorcerers, Heretics & Pagans

Jeffrey B. Russell, Brooks Alexander


An authoritative and concise history of witchcraft from the ancient world up to the present day

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Witchcraft has always been a fluid and intriguing belief system that has enchanted and sometimes terrified humanity. For over forty years, A History of Witchcraft has provided the authoritative history of witchery and the occult. Jeffrey Russell explores the definition of witchcraft in its many diverse forms, from the worship of the Greek goddess of magic, Hecate, through the medieval witch-crazes to the development of modern witchcraft in the early 20th century. Brooks Alexander analyses the development of neopaganism to the present day, charting the dissemination of witchcraft through modern media and the tensions that arise when a secretive cult becomes an open and recognized religion.

Whether or not one believes in the powers of witchcraft, one must believe in the existence of witches.

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'Traces traditions from the paganworld through the medieval heresy hunts and the witch crazes of the 16th and 17th centuries and to the present day'

'Has, for over four decades, been one of the most accessible general overviews of the topic available. Over fifteen years ago, Brooks Alexander helped bring the classic work up to date with additional chapters on modern Pagan witchcraft. Now, in its latest edition, the book is pulled right into the 2020s with discussions of Covid-19 and changing gender politics. If you're looking to learn more about witchcraft, then this is a good place to start'
Ethan Doyle White, author of PAGANS

'Well worth reading and shines a light on some well-known stories'
Facts & Fiction

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 19.8 x 12.9 cm

Extent: 240 pp

Illustrations: 21

Publication date: 4 April 2024

ISBN: 9780500297285

Contents List

Introduction: What is a witch?

1 Sorcery
2 The roots of European witchcraft
3 Witchcraft, heresy, and inquisition
4 The witch-craze on the continent of Europe
5 Witchcraft in Britain and America
6 Witchcraft and society
7 The decline of witchcraft

8 Survivals and revivals
9 Neopagan witchcraft: the sources
10 Neopagan witchcraft: the movement
11 The role of witchcraft

About the Author

Jeffrey B. Russell (1934–2023) was an American historian of medieval Europe and religious studies scholar. Brooks Alexander is author of Witchcraft Goes Mainstream and has written numerous articles on witchcraft, neo-paganism and other new religious movements.