- Paperback: 300 pages
- Publisher: Forgotten Books (20 Feb. 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1605069345
- ISBN-13: 978-1605069340
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.7 x 22.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,375,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (Forgotten Books) Paperback – 20 Feb 2008
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About the Author
Margaret Alice Murray (13 July 1863 - 13 November 1963) was a prominent British Egyptologist and anthropologist. Primarily known for her work in Egyptology, which was "the core of her academic career," she is also known for her propagation of the Witch-cult hypothesis, the theory that the witch trials in the Early Modern period of Christianized Europe and North America were an attempt to extinguish a surviving pre-Christian, pagan religion devoted to a Horned God. Whilst this theory is today widely disputed and discredited by historians like Norman Cohn, Keith Thomas and Ronald Hutton, it has had a significant effect in the origins of Neopagan religions, primarily Wicca, a faith she supported. Her work in Egyptology took place largely alongside her mentor and friend, the archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie, whom she worked alongside at University College London. One of the earliest women to "make a serious impact upon the world of professional scholarship," she was also an ardent feminist, being actively involved in the Suffragette movement. From 1953 to 1955, she was the president of the Folklore Society, although since her death various members of the society have attempted to dissociate the organisation from her and the Murrayite theory of the Witch-Cult. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Read this book by all means - but be aware that even brilliant people are not always right.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Murray's entire thesis is derived from false fragments of pseudo-information, confessions extracted from accused "witches." Yet the witchcraft community has often accepted Murray's nonsense without question. During years of research, I've seen this book referred to again and again, and can't believe that it's been given credibility by so many authors. In anthropological circles, this book is derided as one of the worst examples of poor academic research ever published. It's like theologists defining Judaic practices during the period of the Spanish Inquisition by what victims said about their faith during torture and subsequent "confession." Or what slavery was like from the point of view of the exploiters.
Murray actually postulates that the consistency of the practices described in the confessions of "witches" is evidence of a widespread witch religion. Yes, it is evidence, but evidence pertaining to the consistent beliefs of the Papal Bull of Innocent VIII against witchcraft! As in: the tormentors all consistently asked the same set of questions. Thus, the practices of Murray's so-called witches are consistent because the torturers were! This clearly does not reflect some kind of organized witch-religion, it only demonstrates the consistent organization of the Church. One can't write seriously about witchcraft, or learn about it, with this terrible, totally unreliable information, extracted under duress by the Church. Which is not to say that some forms of ancient folkways, traditions, and yes, even various kinds of witchcraft or shamanism may have survived throughout Europe after the spread of Christianity.
Instead of this terrible documentation of suffering, try the academic series of six volumes edited by Bengt Ankarloo, "Witchcraft and Magic in Europe." There is a lot of New Age garbage out there, but you can pick through fun books by Doreen Valiente, or Pauline & Dan Campanelli. For the real thing, read up on authentic tribal religions, examine the excellent works on shamanism and plants by Wade Davis and Richard Evans Schultes. You don't need to waste your time on Murray's outdated garbage.