Read A History of Witchcraft, Sorcerers, Heretics, and Pagans by Jeffrey Burton Russell Online


Studies the historical, anthropological, and religious manifestations of witchcraft, arguing that modern witchcraft in the West is in fact a serious religion that offers valuable insights....

Title : A History of Witchcraft, Sorcerers, Heretics, and Pagans
Author :
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ISBN : 9780500272428
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 366 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A History of Witchcraft, Sorcerers, Heretics, and Pagans Reviews

  • Carrie (The Butterfly Reader)
    2018-12-12 19:43

    It's well written but sometimes I found it hard to follow with how it just goes on and on. It would've been better cut in some places to trim the fat. There are a few things that I thought was a little gray and might be confusing to some people that are new to this subject. The pictures were lovely, I did love that little extra tidbit. Overall, this would be an okay starting point but I would dig deeper into other things and books. Do not let this be the only book you read on this subject.

  • Lisa M.
    2018-11-22 19:32

    At places in the text, the author's bias shines out, which makes it hard to take the whole text without a grain of salt. He admits in the last chapter of the novel that he is not a neopagan or a witch. He does not have to be a neopagan or a witch to write a successful book on this topic (and to be honest, it is good he is not. Too many uninformed young neopagans think that they are linked to the witch-craze when they are not.) But, I shouldn't have been able to sense judgmental overtones throughout the text. Another complaint is a lack of attention to Eastern witchcraft. Due to the fact that this book focuses on the witch, it primarily deals with European witchcraft. But, it gives some information about African witchcraft when establishing that sorcery is a force that has existed in all cultures. If so, where's Asia? i am very curious about this.Otherwise, I enjoyed the text on the witch-craze. I was not aware of the part heretics played in the making of a witch. Very good stuff. I found the section on neopagans ... interesting. Granted, the copy read was published in 1980, paganism has changed significantly, and paganism changes from person to person. You can't read a book and expect it to be all-inclusive. But some of what the author wrote was just incorrect. (All witches are pagans ... which many know isn't true.) In good spirit he asserts over and over that witches don't believe in Satan, perform black magic/masses, etc ... but then mentions on the side that some do. In this way he may confuse readers about satanism and paganism. If he had given a little more information it would have been clearer. I got the sense that maybe he didn't fully understand what he was writing about. At that point in time a lot of paganism was still kept under wraps by the community. So, maybe he didn't have access to the necessary information.Well meaning but at times uninformed author who does not provide enough information for me to walk away fully satisfied from this book.

  • Cynthia Austin
    2018-12-03 20:55

    Reads more like a text book and I'm having trouble retaining anything useful.

  • Sarah
    2018-11-20 17:35

    This is a great book and a great resource. They clearly break down European 'witchcraft' as distinct from sorcery which is a cross cultural phenomenon and nearly ubiquitous in history. Provides social context and goes far beyond the witch trials of the 1500-1600s. Lots of great historical artwork and photographic plates included.

  • Rachel
    2018-11-27 19:51

    Decent overview of witchcraft throughout history. The last section on neopagan witchcraft is the weakest of the three parts, but decent source materials are listed in the bibliography, so the curious can dig deeper if they choose.

  • Linda
    2018-11-21 19:28

    I never did read this. I just looked at the pictures. It's long-winded. I got it some time ago. I'm going to put it someplace where someone can have it for free.

  • Steve Cran
    2018-11-18 20:36

    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?

  • Seth Pierce
    2018-12-02 17:36

    I read this book as part of researching connections of spiritualism/neo-paganism to neo-pentecostalism. the book is weak on its ancient practices and feels rushed. I would like more on the practices of those contemporary to ancient Israel. The author is also weak theologically stating that St. Paul was against women. However in his treatment of the stereotypical imagery that grew out of the "witch-craze" movements and the Malleus Malificarum he does quite well. He also succeeds in demonstrating how neo-paganism and Wicca are modern inventions based on severe revisionism and pseudo-history. While occult practices are found the world over, there never has been a systematic all encompassing "craft" that pre dates Christianity. This book clarifies much of the neo-pagan world view and where it differs from Christianity and even Satanism. This is not to say that witchcraft is a benign invention of human imagination. Practicing witchcraft is still unacceptable to a Christian worldview not only doctrinally but also in reaching out to manipulate powers that are made out to be good and nature based--but are far more sinister.

  • Chloe
    2018-11-12 17:37

    Thoroughly enjoyable light summertime reading, with really lovely illustrations! I saw this book on the recently-returned book cart at my college library and jumped at the chance to read this before I left college forever. I recently took a class on the late medieval/Renaissance period and so I already knew a lot about the history, but this book goes more in depth about that era. I also knew nothing about more modern witchcraft/wiccan practices (aside from generally knowing that a ton of lesbians and feminists are into witchcraft) so that was interesting. 10/10 would recommend to a fellow lesbian & feminist interested in witchery.

  • Catriona
    2018-11-30 00:34

    This book is really a history of the idea of witchcraft, which avoids many of the more hysterical pitfalls of other books in this area. It charts how sorcery became associated with charges of heresy in the middle ages, and the rise of so called wicca in the modern era, which was largely made up in the early 20th Century! Burton Russell does a good job of pricking the bubble of hysteria that usually surrounds the subject and gives us a thorough going historical account.Readable, lavishly illustrated and myth busting!

  • Stephen Simpson
    2018-12-05 19:35

    All in all, a pretty poor work. Much of the historical content can be found in better books and while the author freely dismisses many scholarly theories/opinions, he offers minimal evidence to support his position(s). He is, however, surprisingly gentle in his treatment of the nonsense that is the modern "wicca" movement, though he does do a pretty good job of underlining how much of it is basically made-up psuedohistorical nonsense.

  • Caleb
    2018-12-13 19:56

    This is an extremely cheesy-looking book, but despite it's New Age bookstore-meets-junior high history book lay-out and design, it's a remarkably completely complete work, covering that which people call witchcraft from prehistory to the middle of this decade. Probably most intersting was the less covered stuff, like a quick overview of 20th century scholarship on the phenomenon, and the section devoted to modern witchcraft/wicca as an invented religion/tradition.

  • Steve Wiggins
    2018-12-05 22:41

    A pretty good introduction to witchcraft that covers most of the history of the phenomenon. It has a good deal of information, and, as many Thames and Hudson volumes, copious illustrations. A good place to start getting information on the much misunderstood word "witchcraft." See more at: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World.

  • Santiago
    2018-11-14 19:53

    I'm not familiar with the topic. it was intetesting to read and get a broad panorama of the issues dealt with . good selection of images. not much to say since i'm not a historian and havn't done research on the subjet.

  • Miranda Hency
    2018-11-18 19:56

    I had to read most of this for a history class I was taking and then read the rest on my own. Very informative and interesting information. I learned so much about witchcraft that I didn't know before.

  • Leah
    2018-11-25 19:32

    From what I read, this is a well-written well-researched book, that seemed to lack the heavier personal opinions that litter many of the books on this subject. Unfortunately, I checked this book out from the library and someone had cut out large chunks of chapters.

  • Megan Malinowski
    2018-11-15 19:38

    I found this book rather boring, and I was looking for more insight on Wicca, but I didn't really get that much reading this book. I didn't read it to the end because I found it hard to get through, and it's not an American book, so I wasn't used to the writing style.

  • Lauren
    2018-11-17 00:27

    Very detailed and extensive (with little tiny print). More than you might bargain for, but true to its title.

  • K-tron
    2018-12-11 19:56

    very interesting and informative

  • Stella
    2018-12-01 01:55

    Background reading prior to vvitch film release. Interesting reading.

  • Kat
    2018-11-23 20:32

    I read this in one night... I couldn't put it down.

  • Mills College Library
    2018-11-18 21:29

    133.4309 R9643 2007