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A History of Magic and Witchcraft (Hardback)

Sabbats, Satan and Superstitions in the West

Medieval History Ancient History P&S History Social History Colour Books

By Frances Timbers
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 202
Illustrations: 50
ISBN: 9781526731814
Published: 3rd April 2019



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Broomsticks and cauldrons, familiars and spells: magic and witchcraft conjures a vivid picture in our modern-day imagination. While much of our understanding is rooted in superstition and myth, the history of magic and witchcraft offers a window into the past. It illuminates the lives of ordinary people in the past and shines a light on the fascinating pop culture of the premodern world.

Blowing away folkloric cobwebs, this enlightening new history dispels many of the misconceptions surrounding witchcraft and magic that we still hold today. From Ancient Greece and Rome through to the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era, historian Frances Timbers shines a light on the impact of Christianity and popular culture in the construction of the figure of the ‘witch’. The development of demonology and ceremonial magic is brought together with the West’s troubled past with magic and witchcraft to chart the birth of modern Wiccan and Neopagan movements in England and North America.

Witchcraft is a metaphor for oppression in an age in which persecution is an everyday occurrence somewhere in the world. Fanaticism, intolerance, prejudice, authoritarianism, and religious and political ideologies are never attractive. Beware the witch hunter!

This is an interesting and well laid out book.  It follows the history of magic and witchcraft from classical beginnings and mythology through to modern day Wicca.  As expected it covers the witch trials, but also includes so much more.

There are relevant and interesting illustrations to refer to and the book 'feels' substantial and well presented.

There is nothing I didn't like about this book and it is one that I will read again.

For the Love of Books

I found this book very intriguing. This book presents a different view of witches and the misconceptions about them. The author starts by going back to the ancient Greek mythology where the idea of a witch first appeared. As the book proceeds, she confronts various specific false beliefs and their origins, such as, wild rides in the night, and sexual liaisons with the devil. The material is well researched and presented in a way that makes it approachable for most any reader. If you’ve been with me a while, you know I love these deep dives into the corners of history and this book was no exception. Fascinating, informative and thought provoking all in one place.

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A Line From A Book, Jennifer Sahmoun

Timbers addresses and redefines preconceived notions with a clipped, yet powerful research narration. This book also recognizes history’s references to witches, familiars, spells, and rituals throughout Europe Religions subduing witchcraft and putting it in hiding; identifying and persecuting a witch; and speaks of the Cathars, Templars, and gathering of Sabbat.

GoodReads, Kristine Fisher

Timbers manages to be completely observant in her history and covers more ground than other books I’ve read on the subject making this a useful and informative read.

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SF Crowsnest

'For Your Bookshelf'

Antiques Diary, September/October 2019

I would definitely recommend that you pick this book up. It was such a good read, and whilst not one I would normally read it is something that I will definitely pick up again! ⁣

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The Anxious Bookworm

This is the best book I’ve read on the history of witchcraft. Historian Frances Timbers explores the history of witchcraft with fresh eyes, exploring and sometimes debunking myths, for instance, the burning of witches actually took place from 1550 to 1660, not during what are wrongly called the Dark Ages.

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Hellbound, Steve Earles

Author Q&A as featured by

The Sunday Post (Dundee), 23rd June 2019

'For Your Bookshelf'

Antiques Diary, July 2019

I found A History of Witchcraft and Magic an interesting read. The vast majority of books on the subject focus on Christianity and its relationship with witchcraft. The author really made me question some of my long held assumptions by starting the book with witchcraft in the classical period. A definite eye-opener.

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Hisdoryan, Claire Miles

`For your bookshelf`

Antiques Diary, July-August 2019

A History of Magic and Witchcraft is a book that I knew I needed to read. When I was in college working on my Bachelor’s I focused my research on witchcraft in Europe. I focused on reading everything I could find through library loans and online sources to learn as much as I could about witches and prosecutions in France and England. While I had read so many books on the topic already, Timber’s thesis inspired me. Her arguments moved beyond what I had read in college and brought together both the past and present in a way that revealed to me new information about a topic I love, which I was surprised by. What struck me was the emphasis on how women and men were both punished for being considered witches. Timber looks at how those who were accused were not chosen entirely for misogynistic reasons. This argument was entirely new and by noting there was a level of equality under the term witch and how punishments were meted out shows that the fear was not of woman, but rather of a force that existed within the population. This book is not only something historians will enjoy, but it is also easy to follow and understand for those who might feel nervous about reading a historical work.

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The Nerdy Girl Express

Of special note for academia is the inclusion End Notes (six pages), a Further Reading bibliographic list (two pages), and an Index (five pages), making "A History of Magic and Witchcraft: Sabbats, Satan and Superstitions in the West" a significant and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library collections.

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Midwest Book Review

With an engaging level of detail, A History of Magic and Witchcraft explores the many different ideas of witchcraft, the practices, the acceptance of information that has long been considered the truth about this such as witch trials and the subsequent executions, but also the subjugation of the masses through the fear of witch-hunts. It is also interesting to discover that Frances Timbers has, through so much research, found out that in some areas the percentage of men executed outnumbered that of the women. An exploration through the various ages and interpretations of witches give readers a glimpse into the ever changing mindsets and terminologies prevalent at the times as well as practices... If you’re looking for something that’s different from other books out there about magic and witchcraft, then I would highly recommend this. It gives the reader lots to think about and asks then to really consider what they already knew, reassess what they already know and view it with fresh eyes after reading some of the information in this book.

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The Quiet Knitter

A History of Magic and Witchcraft was a well-written, well-researched, informative read. This book offers a good overview and introductory into the history of magic and witchcraft... Frances Timbers does a very good job at explaining what certain terminologies are as well as discussing the different types of magic and witchcraft that played or were a key role within the history of magic and witchcraft world.

I would recommend A History of Magic and Witchcraft by Frances Timbers to anyone who has an interest in this type of history.

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Where There's Ink There's Paper, Lauren Gent

About Frances Timbers

Frances Timbers holds a PhD in British History from the University of Toronto and has published two books on witchcraft and magic: Magic and Masculinity: Ritual Magic and Gender in the Early Modern Era and The Magical Adventures of Mary Parish: The Occult World of Seventeenth-Century London. She has also published a number of peer-reviewed journal articles. She is currently an adjunct professor at Trent University in Canada.

Perfect Partner

England's Witchcraft Trials (Paperback)

Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. With the echo of that chilling injunction hundreds were accused and tried for witchcraft across England throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. With fear and suspicion rife, neighbour could turn against neighbour, friend against friend, with women, men and children alike caught up in the deadly fervour that swept through both village and town. From the feared “covens” of Pendle Forest to the victims of the unswerving fanaticism of The Witch Finder General, so-called witches were suspected, accused, and dragged into the spotlight to await judgement and…

By Willow Winsham

Click here to buy both titles for £32.98
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