Witching Culture: Folklore and Neo-Paganism in America


Sabina Magliocco - 2004
    Magliocco examines the roots that this religious movement has in a Western spiritual tradition of mysticism disavowed by the Enlightenment. She explores, too, how modern Pagans and Witches are imaginatively reclaiming discarded practices and beliefs to create religions more in keeping with their personal experience of the world as sacred and filled with meaning. Neo-Pagan religions focus on experience, rather than belief, and many contemporary practitioners have had mystical experiences. They seek a context that normalizes them and creates in them new spiritual dimensions that involve change in ordinary consciousness.Magliocco analyzes magical practices and rituals of Neo-Paganism as art forms that reanimate the cosmos and stimulate the imagination of its practitioners. She discusses rituals that are put together using materials from a variety of cultural and historical sources, and examines the cultural politics surrounding the movement--how the Neo-Pagan movement creates identity by contrasting itself against the dominant culture and how it can be understood in the context of early twenty-first-century identity politics.Witching Culture is the first ethnography of this religious movement to focus specifically on the role of anthropology and folklore in its formation, on experiences that are central to its practice, and on what it reveals about identity and belief in twenty-first-century North America.

Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England


John Putnam Demos - 1982
    Focusing on witchcraft reports and trials outside of Salem and utilizing case histories and psychological analyses, this study evaluates the incidents and trials within the context of late-seventeenth-century New England.

Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande


E.E. Evans-Pritchard - 1937
    In her introduction, Eva Gillies presents the case for the relevance of the book to modern anthropologists.

The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft


Ronald Hutton - 1999
    The Triumph of the Moon is the first full-scale study of the only religion England has ever given the world--modern pagan witchcraft, otherwise known as wicca. Meticulously researched, it provides a thorough account of an ancient religion that has spread from English shores across four continents. For centuries, pagan witchcraft has been linked with chilling images of blood rituals, ghostlike druids, and even human sacrifices. But while Robert Hutton explores this dark side of witchery, he stresses the positive, reminding us that devotion to art, the natural world, femininity, and the classical deities are also central to the practice of wicca. Indeed, the author shows how leading figures in English literature--W.B. Yeats, D.H. Lawrence, and Robert Graves, just to name a few--celebrated these positive aspects of the religion in their work, thereby softening the public perception of witchcraft in Victorian England. From cunning village folk to freemasons and from high magic to the black arts, Hutton chronicles the fascinating process by which actual wiccan practices evolved into what is now a viable modern religion. He also presents compelling biographies of wicca's principal figures, such as Gerald Gardner, who was inducted into a witch coven at the age of 53, and recorded many clandestine rituals and beliefs. Ronald Hutton is known for his colorful, provocative, and always thoroughly researched studies on original subjects. This work is no exception. It will appeal to anyone interested in witchcraft, paganism and alternative religions.

The Devil of Great Island: Witchcraft and Conflict in Early New England


Emerson W. Baker - 2007
    Town residents blamed what they called "Lithobolia" or "the stone-throwing devil." In this lively account, Emerson Baker shows how witchcraft hysteria overtook one town and spawned copycat incidents elsewhere in New England, prefiguring the horrors of Salem. In the process, he illuminates a cross-section of colonial society and overturns many popular assumptions about witchcraft in the seventeenth century.

The Devil in Massachusetts: A Modern Enquiry Into the Salem Witch Trials


Marion L. Starkey - 1949
    Starkey's sense of drama also vividly recreates the atmosphere of pity and terror that fostered the evil and suffering of this human tragedy.

A General Theory of Magic


Marcel Mauss - 1902
    As a study of magic in 'primitive' societies and its survival today in our thoughts and social actions, it represents what Claude Levi-Strauss called, in an introduction to that edition, the astonishing modernity of the mind of one of the century's greatest thinkers. The book offers a fascinating snapshot of magic throughout various cultures as well as deep sociological and religious insights still very much relevant today. At a period when art, magic and science appear to be crossing paths once again, A General Theory of Magic presents itself as a classic for our times.

Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion: An Anthropological Study of the Supernatural


Pamela A. Moro - 1985
    The engaging articles on all key issues related to the anthropology of religion grab the attention of students, while giving them an excellent foundation in contemporary ideas and approaches in the field. The multiple authors included in each chapter represent a range of interests, geographic foci, and ways of looking at each subject. Divided into ten chapters, this book begins with a broad view of anthropological ways of looking at religion, and moves on to some of the core topics within the subject, such as myth, ritual, and the various types of religious specialists.

Black Cats and Evil Eyes: A Book of Old-Fashioned Superstitions


Chloe Rhodes - 2012
    Hundreds of the beliefs passed down through the generations have their foundations in ancestry's efforts to ward off evil, which they blamed for hardship, illness, and injustice in times when life was, as often as not, "nasty, brutish, and short." Black Cats and Evil Eyes sets these superstitions in their historical and social context, explaining how fear of the devil, demons, evil spirits, and witchcraft drove people to arm themselves with rituals and talismans to repel dark forces and allow them to live long and healthy lives. In examining many of our common superstitions, this book illuminates the customs, beliefs, and practices of an ancient, and often darker, human past.

From Primitives to Zen: A Thematic Sourcebook on the History of Religions


Mircea Eliade - 1967
    Here are colorful descriptions of deities, creation myths, depictions of death and the afterlife, teachings on the relationship between humanity and the sacred, religious rituals and practices, and prayers and hymns.Mircea Eliade, a recognized pioneer in the systematic study of the history of the world's religions, includes excerpts from the Quran, the Book of the Dead, the Rig Veda, the Bhagavad Gita, the Homeric Hymns, and the Popol Vuh, to name just a few. Oral accounts from Native American, African, Maori, Australian, Aborigine, and other peoples are also included.Here is fascinating reading for anyone interested in the world's religions and myths. In an outstanding collection, Eliade demonstrates humanity's diversity as well as the universal threads that unite us all.

Persuasions of the Witch's Craft: Ritual Magic in Contemporary England


T.M. Luhrmann - 1989
    She came to know them as friends and equals and was initiated into various covens and magical groups. She explains the process through which once-skeptical individuals--educated, middle-class people, frequently of high intelligence--become committed to the ideas behind witchcraft and find magical ritual so compellingly persuasive.

Witches, Midwives and Nurses: A History of Women Healers


Barbara Ehrenreich - 1972
    This pamphlet explores two important phases in the male takeover of health care: the suppression of witches in medieval Europe and the rise of the male medical profession in the United States. The authors conclude that despite efforts to exclude them, the resurgence of women as healers should be a long-range goal of the women’s movement.

Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law


Martha C. Nussbaum - 2004
    Nussbaum argues that the thought-content of disgust embodies "magical ideas of contamination, and impossible aspirations to purity that are just not in line with human life as we know it." She argues that disgust should never be the basis for criminalizing an act, or play either the aggravating or the mitigating role in criminal law it currently does. She writes that we should be similarly suspicious of what she calls "primitive shame," a shame "at the very fact of human imperfection," and she is harshly critical of the role that such shame plays in certain punishments.Drawing on an extraordinarily rich variety of philosophical, psychological, and historical references--from Aristotle and Freud to Nazi ideas about purity--and on legal examples as diverse as the trials of Oscar Wilde and the Martha Stewart insider trading case, this is a major work of legal and moral philosophy.

Magic in the Middle Ages


Richard Kieckhefer - 1989
    He examines its relation to religion, science, philosophy, art, literature and politics before introducing us to the different types of magic, the kinds of people who practiced magic, and the reasoning behind their beliefs. This book places magic at the crossroads of medieval culture, shedding light on many other aspects of life in the Middle Ages.

Ozark Magic and Folklore


Vance Randolph - 1947
    Many of the old-time superstitions and customs have been nurtured and kept alive through the area's relative isolation and the strong attachment of the hillfolk to these old attitudes. Though modern science and education have been making important inroads in the last few decades, the region is still a fertile source of quaint ideas, observances, and traditions.People are normally reticent about their deepest beliefs, especially with outsiders. The author, however, has lived in the Ozarks since 1920 and has long since been a student of Ozark life—and a writer of a number of books and articles on various aspects of the subject. Through casual conversations rather than by direct questioning, he has been able gradually to compile a singularly authentic record of Ozark superstition. His book contains a vast amount of folkloristic material, including legends, beliefs, ritual verses and sayings and odd practices of the hillpeople, plus a wealth of general cultural data. Mr. Randolph discusses weather signs; beliefs about auspicious times for planting crops, butchering hogs, etc.; prenatal influence in "marking" babies; backwoods beauty treatments; lucky charms, omens and auguries; courtship jinxes, love potions, etc.; dummy suppers; and numerous other customs and convictions—many racy and amusing, others somewhat grisly or spooky.Here you'll meet and learn about the yarb doctor who prepared curious remedies of herbs and odd concoctions; power doctors who use charms, spells, and exorcism to effect cures; granny-women (mountain midwives); "doodlebuggers" and witch wigglers who find water with the aid of divining rods; "conjurefolk" and Holy Rollers; witches and goomer doctors; clairvoyants and fortune-tellers; plus the ordinary finger-crossing, wish-making citizens of the area. The general reader as well as the specialist in particular fields of cultural anthropology, etc. will truly enjoy this lively survey of lore and practice—a little-known but fascinating slice of American life.Its gentle humor takes the reader into the hills with the author. The book deserves a place in any general collection of Americana and in all collections of folklore," U.S. QUARTERLY BOOKLIST. "A veritable treasury of backwoods custom and belief… [ a ] wealth of circumstantial detail and cultural background," Carl Withers, N.Y. TIMES.