A History of Magic & Witchcraft

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Broomsticks and cauldrons, familiars and spells: magic and witchcraft conjures a vivid picture in our modern-day imagination. While much of our understanding is rooted in superstition and myth, the history of magic and witchcraft offers a window into the past. It illuminates the lives of ordinary people in the past and shines a light on the fascinating pop culture of the premodern world. Blowing away folkloric cobwebs, this enlightening new history dispels many of the misconceptions surrounding witchcraft and magic that we still hold today. From Ancient Greece and Rome through to the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era, historian Frances Timbers shines a light on the impact of Christianity and popular culture in the construction of the figure of the 'witch'. The development of demonology and ceremonial magic is brought together with the West's troubled past with magic and witchcraft to chart the birth of modern Wiccan and Neopagan movements in England and North America. Witchcraft is a metaphor for oppression in an age in which persecution is an everyday occurrence somewhere in the world. Fanaticism, intolerance, prejudice, authoritarianism, and religious and political ideologies are never attractive. Beware the witch hunter!

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