Lists with This Book. Aug 01, Ruth rated it it was amazing Shelves: The true history of modern Wicca. Deeply academic yet totally fascinating, Ronald Hutton here turns his considerable historical expertise to unraveling the roots of Britain's only home-grown religion. No, it's not 30, years old, and yes, Gerald Gardener did fudge a lot of things. But Hutton argues persuasively that Wicca's origins do go beyond Gardener, for he was influenced not only by Hinduism he'd been a civil servant in India but by a diverse collection of sources: Romantic literature, The true history of modern Wicca.
Romantic literature, 17th and 18th century fraternal organizations, 19th century esoteric societies, the back-to-nature movement, and more. This is a fat, thick, book, full of intriguing people and places. I think Hutton really provides a great model for doing religious history dispassionately; he retains a historian's skepticism and empiricism relating to issues of dates, times, places and the like.
Yet he is never condescending when discussing his subjects' religious experiences. Hutton more or less aproached the book as an unbiased historian instead of going out of his way to critique Wicca. Although just stating the facts in itself makes wicca look silly.
I'd recomend reading this book. As much as I dislike Wicca the history and evolution of it is interesting. Wiccas roots are in freemasonry, crowleyish occult b. Once you get past where its roots lie it gets even worse.
Wicca has absolutely nothing to Hutton more or less aproached the book as an unbiased historian instead of going out of his way to critique Wicca. Wicca has absolutely nothing to do with true Heathenry. Its more or less a bunch of made up crap. I look at Wiccans as borderline retarded goofballs and roleplayers. I don't spend much time worrying or thinking about them, but I hate that most peoples perceptions of Celtic Heathenry comes from wiccan non sense and that they are making inroads into the Asatru community.
View all 3 comments. Jun 12, Ken rated it it was ok. I can't give a clear recommendation for this book. It seems to be rather fixated on refuting an absolute connection from old pagan religion towards neopaganism. On the very narrow line the author follows that refutation can be justified, and for that I suppose it has some use.
On the other hand it tends to ignore broader connections that are the source of some of the revivification of older religions. Traditional dances, carnivals that have figures associated with pagan diety, and symbols that su I can't give a clear recommendation for this book. Traditional dances, carnivals that have figures associated with pagan diety, and symbols that survive. Instead the author attempts to connect the whole mess through an odd tradition of 'cunning men.
Feb 06, David rated it it was amazing. Terribly interesting to read in it's own right, this book will level the head of any new neo-pagans and aspiring witches. Follow it up with "Drawing Down the Moon" and you'll have your spiritual cap screwed on tight enough to withstand the sea of occult books out there that seek to do little beyond part you with your money. I wish this book was around when I was a teen.
This isn't to say I wish I hadn't become a pagan or that I regret any of my past. But a scholarly shot in the arm would have pr Terribly interesting to read in it's own right, this book will level the head of any new neo-pagans and aspiring witches. But a scholarly shot in the arm would have prevented the let down I experienced as the realities of what magick really is and the real history of modern paganism unfolded.
Well, I wrote quite a long winded and spoiler-ish review here: So in lieu of copy-pasting I'll just say I loved this book - not as much as Stations of the Sun which I just about revere but it's so excellent at giving an extremely rigorous account of how current WooWiccans got to where they are. It also respectfully gives plenty of space for people trying to practice Paganism realistically without the Woo.
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Which I found rather wonderful of him. Gave much Well, I wrote quite a long winded and spoiler-ish review here: Gave much more credence to everything he said, because he was always respectful and considerate, even tearing down possibly dearly held beliefs. Was glad to see that there are a lot of modern witches who completely understand the real and actual history and still practice and believe.
No harm in it at all. Also vastly relieved to see so many people in the reviews here to reject all the woocrap that's been passed around since those damn Romantic poets ; Jun 19, Mary Catelli rated it really liked it Shelves: An interesting look at the influences and currents prior to, and their culmination in, the developments of modern pagan witchcraft. In Great Britain, and somewhat in the United States.
The first part I found the most interesting. The Victorian writers treatment of pagan gods and goddesses. How Minerva and Juno passed out of favor in poetical allusions, and while Diana and Venus kept it, they also turned into goddess of the wild. Plus the addition of the Mother Earth only loosely based pagan sourc An interesting look at the influences and currents prior to, and their culmination in, the developments of modern pagan witchcraft. Plus the addition of the Mother Earth only loosely based pagan sources.
How all the Greek gods popular in early allusions gave way -- Apollo had a brief upsurge, only to give way -- and how Pan rose to prominence. The continuation of "high" magic traditions from the Renaissance and earlier, and their mutations -- the pentagram only acquired a definite meaning in the middle of the Middle Ages, and there it was divine, and a protection from evil spirits.
The actual practitioners of folk magic -- the cunning folk who were expected not only to be literate, but to own books, the charmers who works a simpler magic and generally refused payment and while many accepted gifts, often of food, one was known to reject even thanks on the grounds that healing with his charm was a God-given duty.
The secret societies, like the Horseman's Word, which arose when draft horses became standard in Britain, and their sometimes conscious diabolism. And their claimed ancient roots. And then he dealt with the convergence of all this in a modern matrix. Which I found less interesting than the earlier parts, but is full with stuff and facts for those more interested in the actual development.
View all 4 comments. Apr 20, Dfordoom rated it it was amazing Shelves: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft turned out to be a fascinating read. I found the first half especially interesting, where he traced the various strands — such as the revival of ritual magic, Theosophy, the increasing interest in ancient paganism, the survival of traditional magical practices like charms — emerged during the nineteenth century and then came together in the 20th to form what was effectively a new religion.
The second half then traces the actual histories of the various strands in modern pagan witchcraft, and the various personalities involved. Although Hutton argues that many of the beliefs about the history of this religion held by its adherents are dubious or even fanciful, he still seems to have a great deal of respect for witchcraft. I was especially intrigued by the account of the complex and very mixed relation betweens witches and the mass media back in the s and s.
An exceptionally well-written, stimulating and interesting book. Anyone interested in contemporary culture. This is the near-definitive account of the new religions that emerged, largely from the UK, in the last century. Hutton is sympathetic but rigorously academic, and has swept away the traditionalist claims of some founders whilst ensuring respect and dignity for practitioners. It is the founding text for understanding the context for any further reading in this field.
A Skinful of Shadows
Aug 01, Nu-Jahat-Jabin rated it did not like it. Mar 23, Titus L rated it really liked it. Intruigued by Mr Hutton's assertion that "Wicca" meaning the wiseones is the first all British religion given to the world, I approached his book The Triumph of the Moon as my first serious study of Wicca and Witchcraft with an objective attitude and without any preconceived perspectives on the matter. As anyone who has read any Hutton will already know, his books are academic, copiously refferenced and invariably not a light read.
Of The Origins of Modern Perspectives On Wichcraft, Wicca and P Intruigued by Mr Hutton's assertion that "Wicca" meaning the wiseones is the first all British religion given to the world, I approached his book The Triumph of the Moon as my first serious study of Wicca and Witchcraft with an objective attitude and without any preconceived perspectives on the matter.
Of The Origins of Modern Perspectives On Wichcraft, Wicca and Paganism In Britain; Restricting his research to Great Britain, the book opens with an exploration of prevailing attitudes towards Paganism in the late 19th - early 20thC, asserting that Wiccan belief and practice owe much to the scholars, novelists and poets who resurrected Pan and the Goddess in the Victorian and Edwardian culture, and identifiying the four key perspectives of the period; First, a belief that all Pagans, both of European prehistory and of contemporary tribal peoples represented a religious expression of humanity's ignorance and savagery.
Second, that derived from the religion and culture of Ancient Greece and Rome, the Pagans were noble and admirable people but essentially remained inferior to Christianity in their ethics and spiritual values. Third, that some writers considered Paganism superior to Christianity, being a life affirming and joyous alternative approach to religion which respects all of nature and seeks to integrate our lives with it.
Fourth, that a number of thinkers, writers and poets with connections to the Romantic movement such as Shelley, Leigh Hunt and Thomas Love Peacock, considered Paganism a remnant of a great universal religion of the distant past, elements of which were to be found in all the major religions practice by civilized humanity, from which contemporary NeoPaganism is descended. Hutton then explored in greater depth the various strands of Romantic literary Paganism, the Frazerian Anthropology, Folklorism, Freemasonry, Theosophy, the revival of Ritual Magic and of Ceremonial magic, Thelema, and Woodcraft Chivalry, among others.
I found his research into the varieties of 'Cunning Folk' and other groups including 'The Toadmen' still around in and a Masonic styled secret society called 'The Horseman's Word' in the 19th century to be particularly enjoyable and informative reading. To introduce them briefly, the 'Cunning Folk' were professional or semi-professional practitioners of magic active from at least the fifteenth up until the early twentieth century who practiced folk magic — also known as "low magic" — although often combined this with elements of "high" or ceremonial magic.
In earlier times, the witch's power to harm people, livestock, and crops was greatly feared: Cunning-folk practitioners were also consulted for love spells, to find lost property or missing persons, exorcise ghosts and banish evil spirits. Ronald Hutton suggests that the 'Cunning Craft', rather than dying out, had changed character by being subsequently absorbed into other magical currents. The decline of the cunning craft in Britain was not however indicative of other European nations: Nevertheless, the author portrays that through the increasing interest in ancient Paganism and survival of traditional magical practices like charms during the 19thC, there came about in the 20thC what ammounts to a new religion.
Of The Rise of Modern Wicca, Witchcraft and Paganism in Britain; The second half of this book traces in greater depth the modern history of that new religion, of Paganism and Wicca, with particular focus on Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions of Wicca and examines the personalities involved in launching modern pagan witchcraft, including Gerald Gardner, Sanders, Valiente, the Crowthers, Pickingill and others. Hutton says that Wicca was introduced by Gerald Gardener in the mid to late 's shortly after Britain repealed their anti-witchcraft laws.
Gardener had claimed that he became acquainted with a group of Rosicrucian actors who introduced him to an ancient surviving craft and that Dorothy Clutterbuck, their priestess, initiated him into their coven. However, Hutton also argues that Wicca's origins go well beyond Gardener claiming that Gardener was influenced not only by Ancient Hinduism following his period of civil service in India, but also a diverse collection of sources including 17th and 18th century fraternal organizations, 19th century esoteric societies including the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Ordo Templi Orientis and Freemasonry from whom he borrowed Wicca's ritual structure, initiations, handshakes and passwords.
The author makes clear that Gardener also derived inspiration and some practises from the Occultist Aleister Crowley and Romantic literary authors including Yeats, Frazer and Graves as well as the Back-To-Nature movement. Despite Gardener's claimed introduction to an older craft group - which Hutton points out is contested, and because of Gardener's own subsequent gathering of sources and resources such as The Book Of Shadows, his forming of Covens and publicising of his new organisation, Gardener is nevertheless portrayed as the founding father of modern Wicca.
Whilst this early NeoPaganism may appear a socially or politically subversive movement, particulalry becuase of its secrecy and the reversal of cultural norms such as that some aspects of ritual were to be carried out naked, the point is made that at this stage the movement was not of a socialy minded reactionary nature at all. Several of its founding figures were deeply conservative and politically Conservative , and their quarrel was not with social and economic status quo, but rather against the unnaturalness and destruction of traditional patterns of life and societies deep involvement with nature that characterized the rising industrial modernity.
On the one hand then Hutton appears to make the argument that early modern Pagan Witchcraft did not stem from any unbroken lines of sucession and does not reprsent a survival of ancient forms of indigenous religious practise, but equivocally he also states that various forms of earlier practise such as the Cunning Craft, Wise Women and others had been subsummed and evolved into the new forms of neo Paganism and Wicca Of the Modern World View and American Feminist Remodeling of Paganism and Wicca; Moving on to consider the more recent developments in Wicca and Paganism, Hutton presents the modern world phenomenon of Witchcraft and of Paganism as having developed in Great Britain and been exported to USA where they were taken up by feminist pagans who massively popularised the concepts as well as imbued them with a more socialistic communal minded orientation.
After this socialization the author says a "new and improved" Wicca made the jump back across the pond to England in the early 's, that Paganism and Wicca have returned with greater prominence and popularity to Great Britain in large part via the books of such authors as Starhawk, Z. Budapest and others who have provided a number of self initiation and guide books for the growing number of solitary practiotioners or hedge witches.
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The author rounds out his voluminous research with an interesting personal account of what in his view the principle precepts of modern Paganism and Wicca entail. Of the Authors Conjectural Conclusions And Their Ultimate Uncertainty; Despite the apparent academic objectivity of Ronald Hutton's research which I have thoroughly enjoyed in a number of his studies, I found in this work an ambivalence and lack of clear resolution on a number of occassions.
Mr Hutton seems to present an evidence based case as far as it would go and then implies the ensuing conjcture without the definitive evidence for the the implied conclusions, a practise which he points out in others as imaginative if accademically erroneous. I find myself further intruigued by such deft footwork from an academic author and because of these missgivings I have looked about for other reviewers opinions. Of the many such reviews that I found among those who were not too overwhelmed, like myself, by all the cross refferences and closely written and basically bewildering panoramic scope of fine details, some appear to see the wood through the trees, claiming that the authors main pitch in this work, that Wicca and NeoPaganism do not carry any unbroken lineage to antiquity, are partisan perspectives that the author has impelled his evidence to support.
These views of Ronald Hutton as expressed in The Triumph Ogf The Moon have then provoked a certain ammount of debate from both sides of the camp so to speak. In response to such perspectives, Hutton frequently hints that there is more to this story, but states that without definitive evidence we cannot be sure and then proceeds present to his own conjectured conclusion almost as a definitive orthodoxy.
Hutton had spent a decade studying the question of the relationship between modern Paganism and ancient forms of religion Hutton had reached the conclusion that no such relationship existed whatsoever, and that no one could be taken seriously who believed otherwise, explicitly including anyone who so much as "suggest[ed] that there might be some truth" in the notion of the Old Religion. The only problem was that the whole time Hutton had, now by his own admission, been systematically ignoring "certain types of ancient religion" which just so happened to be precisely the ones which most "closely resembled [modern] Paganism, had certainly influenced it, and had certain linear connections with it"!
And why did he ignore the one place he should have been looking all along? Because it was "in every sense marginal to my own preoccupations. That there ensues some degree of partisan prejudice was almost to be expected, as the wider public may still hold various oppositional perspectives based on an until recently dominant Christian cultural ideology and its ensuing missinformation against Paganism and Witchcraft in particular.
That such views should apparently inform an objective academic in his choice of how to handle his subject matter is not a question that I am well enough equipped to consider. I would surmise however by saying that I have learnt a lot by reading this work, both within the tome itself and further by becoming aware of sensible and informed dissent without. For all of these reasons I recommend this study to any who would consider the origins and developments of Witchcraft, Wicca and Paganism in modern Britain today, with the caveat that there may indeed be more to this story thn meets the eye or is rpresented here.
Aug 17, Manuel rated it it was amazing. Mar 19, Wishmaster rated it really liked it. The first half of the book is incredibly dry and hard to get into. Things liven up comparitively anyway in the second part and this is where it becomes very interesting. I can understand why Ronald Hutton came under fire for his quite constricted presentation of the provenance of Wicca. There are hints of there being much more to the story, but without definitive evidence, he either sits on the fence and says maybe, or dismisses things that really deserved more attention.
The book is e The first half of the book is incredibly dry and hard to get into. The book is exceptionally well researched and will put paid to the "burning times" mythos and fallacious claim for the ancient heritage of Wicca - at least in the context of it being derived from a single path.
Yet, potential links to something older than the 's are largely ignored. An opportunity missed in some ways. The sad thing is, even after reading this book, some still insist that Wicca is a "revival" of some older Witchcraft cult or movement. It's not a revival at all. Wicca is an Earth based religion based on and drawing from a number of sources, from Crowley, Freemasonry, Kabbalah, Folklore, Greek, Norse and Roman mythology and others. In that sense, it has ancient roots spreading in many directions, but it is patently NOT a revival of an old religion.
Does age make a religion less valid? As with all religion, it's based on faith and belief, not verifiable facts and therefore each to their own. If it makes you happy and works for you, go for it and place whatever label you feel comfortable with on your belief system. Sep 02, Matt Fimbulwinter rated it really liked it Shelves: A historical examination of modern Pagan Witchcraft.
I've been reading enough non-fiction in the past few years to develop strong tastes. This was well suited to those tastes. The author is an academic, who strives to present arguments for and against various positions as they are presented, with evidence on each side. There are substantial notes. Where the author knows the people he's discussing, he works to declare his bias, and still presents criticisms of the subject. Similarly, when he clea A historical examination of modern Pagan Witchcraft. Similarly, when he clearly dislikes someone he is writing about, compliments and positive aspects are presented as well.
I was hoping for a good grasp of the history of Paganism, especially Wicca in the age of Gardner and his successors. I certainly got that, and considerably more. This is one of those books that keeps bouncing around in my head as I correlate bits of information from it with stuff I've run into in my own life. I sort of want to dump out a big detailed review of all the cool bits of stuff I got from each chapter. Instead, I will just say that if you've an interest in the subject, this is definitely worth reading. In particular, I'd be interested in what those friends of mine who are either historians, or initiated Pagans, have to say on the book.
Jul 28, Sarah rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is an awesome book. It gives the history of modern paganism, with a particular focus on Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions, and the cultural forces that precursed them. For a scholarly text, is is extremely easy to read and Hutton puts his own wry wit into numerous examples.
He is also extremely respectful of the beliefs of current Wiccans and Pagans, and never uses the historical fallacies or irregularities to discredit the religion. His final chapter, where he synthesizes his findings This is an awesome book. His final chapter, where he synthesizes his findings with the actual beliefs of Wiccans and Pagans is a masterpiece. Anyone who doesn't "get" these religions might do well to read that chapter first.
I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in British history, Wiccan, Neo Paganism, or cultural studies. Oct 16, Heather rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: This is the most important Witchcraft book ever. I mean, once you've read all the pretty pseudo-histories and herstories that this book turns into lovely fairy tales.
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Every single religious movement, occult organization, art trend, anthropologiist mistake and more that went into the Gerald Gardner creating Wicca is documented brilliantly! It's worth the read for non-Pagans just to learn about things such as the Freemasons. The writer is an English scholar, but it's a fun read while your brain ge This is the most important Witchcraft book ever. The writer is an English scholar, but it's a fun read while your brain gets packed with facts, something few Pagans care much about when it comes to our heritage. Feb 07, Gabriel Clarke rated it it was amazing.
This book demands a thorough review from me at some point. Suffice to say that if you're attracted to any form of Paganism, Triumph of the Moon will provide you with a framework for appreciating and engaging with the experiences those paths offer without requiring you to check your credulity at the door. Not without flaws but generally wonderful. Jul 24, Bianca Bradley rated it it was amazing. It puts to rest many of the false mythologies of Wicca and it's foundation.
More people need to read it, to stop the fluffy bunny history bs. Jan 11, Kerr Cuhulain rated it it was amazing Shelves: Excellent history of the origins of modern Wicca. I highly recommend it! I am in awe of the work Hutton poured into this book, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. First some points to explain exactly why it is worth your time. After that, I'll try to give an overview of the structure and content of the book.
Here follows unapologetic gushing of compliments So, what made this history of Pagan witchcraft stand out, besides the fact that it is the first one on this scale and level? For one, Hutton writes with a clarity and precision that is a testament to his craftmanship. He has a way of putting things just so that they convey what he wants and make you smile at the same time. The lovers warn her against their own nemesis. Unfortunately, said nemesis is now going all homicidal on Madison. College becomes more complicated when she falls hard for Rupert Vance, a troubled aristocrat and descendant of one of the characters in the painting.
If you love paranormal romances with many twists, a smart heroine, and a protective bad-boy hero ready to be redeemed, you will love Oxford Whispers. Oxford Whispers is a real page turner.
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I highly recommend this hugely enjoyable book. I like the historical aspect and also the painting that the story was based on. Right now you can see the painting at the Pre- Raphaelite exhibition at Tate Britain — awesome! I thing the only two words I can think ofare gorgeous and sexy!!! The painting belongs to the family of an Earl whose son is also an Oxford student, and despite their widely different backgrounds, the two are drawn together, just as their ancestors were.
And just as back then, there is a jealous villain willing to go to any lengths to prevent their happiness.