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The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft Paperback – Unabridged, 1995

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Product details

  • Paperback: 502 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New Ed edition (1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192854496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192854490
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 2.5 x 13 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

Until recently Wiccans--the name that present day witches prefer--used to claim that their religion was a recreation, even a continuation of ancient beliefs widespread in Europe before Christianity drove them out. Most of today's Wiccans are more honest, more ready to accept that theirs is a new religion, self-consciously created to serve a need not met by existing mainstream religions.

Ronald Hutton's The Triumph of he Moon is a history of modern pagan witchcraft, examining not only its origins half a century ago but the many ideas and enthusiasms of the last few centuries that paved the way for it. He finds powerful influences in 18th and 19th-century Freemasonry, 19th-century Rosicrucian-type societies, including the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, as well as in the tradition of wise women, dispensers of herbal remedies and folk wisdom. Interestingly, these last, who many Wiccans would see as the main forerunners of themselves, Hutton finds to have little real significance. With the benefit of scholarly insight, he also points out the unreliability of the most influential literary and / or supposedly academic works supporting the idea of ancient European religion, such as Charles Leland's Aradia, Margaret Murray's The Witch-Cult in Western Europe and The God of the Witches, J.G. Frazer's The Golden Bough and Robert Graves' The White Goddess.

Hutton, a regular contributor to TV documentaries about Neo-Pagansism, is Professor of History at Bristol University. The Triumph of the Moon is that rarity, a very readable academic book, which will be fascinating to anyone with an interest in the history of witchcraft. --David V. Barrett --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

Hutton's professional expertise shows paganism in a new light (Katrina Dixon The Scotman, 24/02/01)

this work ... makes for excellent reading. Hutton's extensive scholarship allows him to make and clarify connections between people and movements in recent centuries. (Northern Earth, No.83.)

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THIS book is to be largely concerned with religion, a phenomenon which itself has never been defined in a manner wholly and universally acceptable to scholars concerned with it; indeed, the many practitioners and commentators who will feature in this present work themselves display a range of approaches to the problem. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Robert Simpson on 13 April 2009
Format: Paperback
The other reviews on this item are very thorough but I felt it was important to point out that this is a very academic view of Wicca and, as such, is quite a 'hefty' read. There is a lot of (excellent) information to absorb. It would make a lot more sense if you've read work by the main Wiccan writers and could therefore appreciate Hutton's review of their traditions.

I really enjoyed this book and heartily recommend it but it's not a 'read-in-one-afternoon' type book.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 July 2008
Format: Paperback
Profound and sympathetic knowledge permeates the whole of this superb history tracing the origins of modern pagan beliefs back to the eighteenth century.

The first part entitled "Macrocosm" examines each component part of the new religion and how it evolved into its final form. The second part entitled "Microcosm" is about the personalities, their rivalries, and the divergent nature of the outcomes.

Hutton is undoubtedly correct that neo paganism as known today is a modern construct, but although he is even handed in his treatment of the subject, one has to remind oneself when reading the book that there is undoubtedly an ancient precedent.

In addition Hutton closely observed and researched 21 covens comprising 213 practitioners and the results form a fascinating conclusion to a remarkable achievement.

The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft
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70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. P. Duffy VINE VOICE on 7 Jan. 2002
Format: Paperback
Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton to my mind is an essential read for any practicing wiccan or witch. It's a historical book of two halves. The first half is an exploration & history of the facets that make up modern pagan witchcraft, such as the Goddess, the God, cunning folk, high ritual magic, secret societies, paganism etc, then the second half is an account of how the different strands came together. It's the first proper scholarly investigation by a respected historian, and helps avoid the pitfalls of false histories etc.

It can also be used as a springboard by reading the works cited in each part so as to further an understanding of modern Craft.

Triumph of the Moon, although historical in tone, is still sympathetic to modern Witchcraft & its practitioners, pointing out that it is a valid independent religion (and discussing why), not a cult, sect etc, that its modern origin makes it no less valid, & doesn't attempt to discuss whether spells, healing etc really work, only that people use it & there are cases in which the intended result seems to have occured.

After reading it, although the romantic notion of wicca being an age old religion will be shown to be a fantasy (which deep down most people already suspected), and that it is a modern synthesis of older & new ideas, I for one found myself feeling better than ever about being a witch.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Celestial Elf on 24 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Intrigued by Mr Hutton's assertion that "Wicca" (meaning the wise-ones) 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 referenced and invariably not a light read.

Of The Origins of Modern Perspectives On Witchcraft, 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 identifying 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.
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64 of 68 people found the following review helpful By N. Clarke on 3 Dec. 2003
Format: Paperback
As several people have already said here, the incomparable Ronald Hutton has done the Pagan community an immense service with _Triumph of the Moon_. Indeed, he achieves the near-impossible: he has produced an academic monograph on the origins of modern Pagan witchcraft capable of satisfying those on the inside (Pagans) _and_ those on the outside (academics and society at large).
Hutton brings his characteristic wit and penetrating insight to bear upon the 'history' of modern witchcraft, and the result is simultaneously a sobering and an uplifting read. This is no mere hatchet job on the always-shaky historical claims of Gardner _et al_; it is a wide-ranging and extremely intelligent study of social, intellectual and spiritual trends in Britain during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which places the modern Craft in its worldly context. A succession of poets, academics, cunning folk, anthropologists, Masons and occultists are discussed, illuminating social currents of the day, and exploring the contribution of each to the great mosaic that became the modern Craft.
The myths, too, are explored: Margaret Murray, 'the burning times', Gardner's Book of Shadows and the myth of prehistoric 'Great Goddess' are all carefully examined, and gently (or not so gently) punctured. Yet I cannot emphasise enough that this is not an attack on Paganism - that it can only, in fact, make it stronger. The first (Gardnerian) witches' claims to the antiquity of their tradition may have been spurious, but Hutton makes it clear that this removes nothing from the fact that there was 'something in the water', so to speak, of early twentieth century society.
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