Witchcraft: A History

P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, Author
P. G. Maxwell-Stuart, Author Tempus Publishing, Limited $22 (223p) ISBN 978-0-7524-2966-3
Reviewed on: 03/01/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
Hardcover - 176 pages - 978-0-7524-1786-8
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-7524-2305-0
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In this third volume of the Dark Histories series (edited by William Naphy, who also wrote the first installment, Sex Crimes), witchcraft expert Maxwell-Stuart looks back at witchcraft from its early practitioners in ancient Greece and Rome, to the medieval witch trials, to modern-day Wiccans. As he explains, the very idea of witches and the""magical crimes"" of which they might be accused varied over the centuries. In the Greek and Roman worlds, magic was""ubiquitous,"" but its practitioners lacked a coherent ideology; modern-day Wiccans, on the other hand, focus on beliefs (e.g., pantheism and neo-paganism) rather than practice. Maxwell-Stuart does an especially fine job of considering the relationship between the early Christian church and pagan magic, demonstrating that initially, magic was accommodated into the church's developing theology; only later did magic and heresy become nearly synonymous. Scholarly but eminently readable, this is a sophisticated introduction to a fascinating subject.
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