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The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (Forgotten Books) Paperback – 20 Feb 2008

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • 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)

Product Description

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.[2] 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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Margaret Murray was a brilliant Egyptologist, there can be no doubt of it. She became one of the firstwomen in that field, working under Flinders Petrie. Sadly she became, I think, convinced that she could not be wrong about anything and this book shows it. I knew her towards the end of her life and even then, aged 100, she had a very strong will.
Read this book by all means - but be aware that even brilliant people are not always right.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Witch-cult In Western Europe 19 Jun. 2012
By william newmoon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is the foundation of modern witchcraft and as such should be reviewed that way. Dr Murray's research brought the rebirth of witchcraft as it is practiced today. She led the way for people like Doreen Valiente, most importantly, and Raymond Buckland later. And Starhawk after. Because of this, Margaret Alice Murray was the champion of all the following and continuing research of the witchcraft community. I studied the book and found my forgotten roots. Read the book and find yours. Blessed Be.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Prior linguistics knowledge is a must (or at least knowledge of French) 19 May 2011
By Shane - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well if you're looking for this book then I'm sure you already know that many (if not most) of Murray's claims have been discredited, so it's not worth harping on that. The book itself was in the condition described (great). The only thing I would like to say to potential buyers of this book is that there is extensive use of old English, and many of the testimonies are in French. If you don't have much background in Linguistics (like me) you may find it a bit hard to read at times (like I did). I understand that Murray's "The God of the Witches" is a bit more friendly and easier to understand, if that's what you're looking for. Overall though I'm satisfied, because the product I bought was in fact what was advertised.
5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intruguing but Difficult 19 Sept. 2006
By Joseph Morales - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Back in the 1920s, anthropologist Margaret Murray studied the records of witch trials and concluded that the witches of Western Europe were actually maintaining a pagan religion that dated back to Neolithic times. Its chief concern was to promote fertility, whether of crops, animals, or people; and in the minds of its practitioners, the central deity of their devotions was the highest possible god of goodness, rather than an agent of evil. I'm not sure if any of this is still reputable anthropology, but the book's theme of cult survivals is noteworthy for having inspired 20th century horror authors such as H. P. Lovecraft. Unfortunately, much of the book consists of testimony quoted directly from trial records, in the original languages, with no translation. For a more accessible account of Murray's theories, see her 1931 work, The God of the Witches.
20 of 31 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible Research and Total Hype 12 Sept. 2007
By FYI - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
During years of anthropological research, I've seen this book referred to again and again, yet it simply consists of pseudo-research; it's a total waste of your time and money. Murray's outdated premises are based on the records of confessions of supposed "witches" during their incarceration, torture, and trials. Chapters detail the suffering of these innocents, yet this is evidence of Church doctrine and cruelty, not documentation of anything resembling witchcraft, or old folk ways.

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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 26 July 2014
By Kathryn Munson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
great book
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