"A fascinating insight into different elements of paganism" - The Independent. "Essential reading for anyone interested in the history of Paganism and related matters" - Woods and Water, Winter Solstice, No. 84.
About the Author
RONALD HUTTON is Professor of History at the University of Bristol. He is the author of the Stations of the Sun, The Triumph of the Moon and Shamans: Siberian Spirituality and the Western Imagination
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Review published in 'The Druids' Voice' issue 18: "The overall theme of this brilliant and wide-ranging collection of essays is the way in which myth, paganism and magic interact with people to produce history. Along the way, we learn (among other things) how myths are made, how the legend of King Arthur has been treated by academics over the years, how Glastonbury became the centre of the New Age universe, how modern paganism in general and Druidry in particular developed, the author's relationship to Wicca, and what J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis have to do with it all. Anyone with the remotest interest in any of these subjects will be amused and fascinated throughout what is one of Professor Hutton's most eclectic, witty and immensely readable books to date. It's impossible to recommend this book too highly. Superb. Read it." To which I'd add that Professor Hutton writes with his usual precision, clarity and wit, and that the essay, 'A Modest Look at Ritual Nudity' alone is worth the price of admission!
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"Witches, Druids and King Arthur" is essentially a collection of nine separate, but well-written essays examining the subjects of witchcraft, paganism and myth-making. Author Ronald Hutton, a Professor of History at Bristol University, has attempted to produce a work which will appeal to both academic historians and the general public alike. Whether he has succeeded in such a daunting task is a moot point; to paraphrase the late John F. Kennedy, some of this book will appeal to all of its readers, and all of this book will appeal to some of its readers, but it's unlikely that all of this book will appeal to all of its readers. Personally, I found the chapter on "The New Old Paganism" incredibly tedious and had to make a concerted effort to reach the end. By contrast, the essay on Ritual Nudity was delightfully entertaining, as was the chapter discussing the Christian and Pagan influences on the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Although there are a handful of black & white photographs in the centrepiece, this book would really benefit from a few diagrams and illustrations to break up the interminably long text. And despite the work's rather grandiose title, there is (sadly) very little for students of the Arthurian genre. But perhaps this book's major failing is that it simply hasn't been marketed properly, which is (presumably) the fault of the publisher rather than the author.