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The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft [Unabridged] [Paperback]

Ronald Hutton
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Ronald Hutton is known for his colourful and provocative writings on original subjects. This work is no exception: for the first full-scale scholarly study of the only religion England has ever given the world; that of modern pagan witchcraft, which has now spread from English shores across four continents. Hutton examines the nature of that religion and its development, and offers a microhistory of attitudes to paganism, witchcraft, and magic in British society since 1800. Its pages reveal village cunning folk, Victorian ritual magicians, classicists and archaeologists, leaders of woodcraft and scouting movements, Freemasons, and members of rural secret societies. We also find some of the leading of figures of English literature, from the Romantic poets to W.B. Yeats, D.H. Lawrence, and Robert Graves, as well as the main personalities who have represented pagan witchcraft to the world since 1950. Densely researched, Triumph of the Moon presents an authoritative insight into a hitherto little-known aspect of modern social history.

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The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft + Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain + Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain
Price For All Three: 31.97

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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: 19.5 x 13 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 120,117 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.


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.)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great follow up for the Wiccan thinker 13 April 2009
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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66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
By Mr. M. P. Duffy VINE VOICE
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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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By Amazon Customer TOP 1000 REVIEWER
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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61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
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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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumph indeed. 17 April 2002
Have you read Margot Adler? Have you studied Dion Fortune? Have you skimmed The Farrars and danced with Starhawk? Have you immersed yourself in all the books you could possibly find on Modern Paganism, Witchcraft, Druidry and Wicca and now consider yourself to be in officially educated confusion? Then throw them all away, and read this instead.
On second thoughts, don’t throw them away, just keep them very very close at hand as you’ll wish to re-read and cross-reference until your eyes are spinning once you but glance at the Notes completing The Triumph of the Moon. Never mind the chapters, this book is worth buying for the references alone. Suffice to comment that it draws extensively from previously unpublished sources and stems from direct personal contact with some, if not all, the alleged greats of modern pagan witchcraft’s last half century. Hutton handles the politics of bitchcraft and the machinations of social history with great skill, and if you are searching for a possible history of modern pagan witchcraft based on fact rather than whimsical conjecture then you could do no better than to rest awhile here.
In fact, overall one could do no better than to take this text as a foundation for all other forays into the field. For in wading through these mists of pagan historiography Hutton manages to hold aloft a fog lamp for the wayward seeker, providing a plethora of roads to study and arming the would-be student with a map and compass of understanding with which to explore these diverse and controversial fields yet still further. What he does not do is provide anyone with any answers, but then with religion one could argue that there aren’t any anyway.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Print is impossibly small
I'm sure that the content is excellent but the print size in this paperback version is incredibly small. Read more
Published 7 months ago by B. J. Lee-harwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Haven't read it yet but..
This book arrived 2 days before the estimated arrival. Good quality, apart from the cover being slightly creased - I'm guessing this occurred during the packaging process. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Sammy73
4.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete,selective with constructed omissions
This now famous investigation into the history of modern neo-pagan witchcraft is superbly written as one would expect from a scholar of Huttons magnitude. Read more
Published 12 months ago by C. Lloyd
5.0 out of 5 stars This Should Be On Your Bookshelf
This book is a very detailed but eminently readable examination of modern Paganism, offering great insight and education about the background underpinning today's Pagan beliefs. Read more
Published 15 months ago by aj watson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Hutton's book goes far in addressing the paucity of serious academic study on the topic. It's refreshing to see a historical take on a modern religion.
Published 16 months ago by Mr. L. Jackson-Ross
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book (shame about the print)
Hutton's excellent book manages to be both scholarly and highly readable. Instructive, too, and thought-provoking. Read more
Published on 20 Aug 2012 by Heathcliff
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncovering what is true and what is not
Prof. Hutton systematically and comprehensively dismantles witchcraft. The inventors of witchcraft are revealed and their invention is pretty-much de-bunked. Nicely done.
Published on 28 Jun 2012 by Simi Bignall
4.0 out of 5 stars The Triumph of Uncertainty...
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... Read more
Published on 24 April 2012 by Celestial Elf
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Pagan Witchcraft - and about time too!
This is a superb tome, very readable, perhaps more so for those with a working knowledge of the history and origins of ritual magic, and expertly presented by someone at the height... Read more
Published on 12 April 2012 by B. Scott
3.0 out of 5 stars Triumph of the Moon - Tedious
TEDIOUS, is the first word that comes to mind regarding this book, that and heavy going. It was extrememly difficult not to just put this book aside and ignore it. Read more
Published on 9 Jan 2012 by Amazon Customer
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