A History of Magic and Witchcraft (Paperback)
Sabbats, Satan and Superstitions in the West
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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!
I have always found witchcraft to be a fascinating topic. Whether it was the women persecuted in literature and legends, for their supposed usage of black magic, or the historical crimes against women, with the rampant spread of accusals and subsequent murders, it is the female sex that have been most associated with the art and suffered much because of it.NetGalley, Dannii Elle
This non-fiction covered both topics above, as well as focusing on many more instances of gender unbalance and oppression. It is impossible to discuss witchcraft without taking these factors into consideration and I really appreciated how well-explained yet sensitive this was on the subjects.
Whilst this was what I personally longed for, and received, within the book, much more was also included. An overview of what was later covered formed the opening, elements from Greek mythology, fairy tales, and our own history were used to illustrate the points featured throughout, and a more modern evaluation of witchcraft, in the spread of Wicca and Pagan belief, concluded it.
I enjoyed this non-fiction immensely. It was detailed without feeling over-burdened with fact, clear and concise without being simplistic, and used an abundance of references without ever seeming bogged down in too many stories.
A History of Magic and Witchcraft is not about cauldrons and jars of insects. This book is an in dept look at how Magic and witchcraft came into being. It is a look at the origins of not only the practices but also the words themselves.NetGalley, Caoilfhionn OToole
Timbers uncovers the truth behind the nature of our understanding of what magic and witchcraft is. Unlike most books that aim to educate their reader Timber expresses personality in the form of bracketed comments. It made the piece easier to read, like having a friendly discussion with a tutor rather than sitting in a classroom.
It is obvious from the tone of the book that we are digesting this information as people with an understanding of feminism but also equality. (Do not let that F word scare you. It is not about hating men just being equal to them.) If Timber is anything in this book she is vocal about dispelling misconceptions that women were the only ones to suffer during witch trials.
I for one learned so much during my read that it will definitely be a reread. One such thing I discovered was that Gail's Duncan is not just an Outlander character and was a real woman who was tried as a witch. I also found the details of the conversion to Catholicism, particularly that of the Roman Catholic Church interesting.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Paula Hoponick
Really, really enjoyed this book. I found it very informative and learned quite a bit about history. Many things I did not even have an inkling about! Will definitely keep referring to this book and likely will get a hard copy. Thank you so much!
Full of facts breaking the westernised witch stereotypes we see in movies and literature with thought provoking points.NetGalley, Enna Jones
It was an eye-opening, and very informative, experience reading this book.
This was FUN! I feel like I'm always reading mythology books about the Greeks or the faeries, but never of the darker topics people tend to shy away from. I enjoyed the hell out of this. It was fun, factual, and easy to read. Easily one of the most enjoyable and laid-back books I've read in a while, AND I learned a lot. I've already recommended this book to friends.NetGalley, Alison Morrow
An amazing read for anyone that's interested not only in witchcraft and magic, but in religion and history as a whole. You can tell there was a strong, careful investigation process behind it that also manages to be respectful to all religions and stories mentioned and remain impartial enough for the message to be delivered straight and clear.NetGalley, Jennifer Lennon
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Cozy Cat Reviews
This is quite a comprehensive historical body of work about Witches and Witchcraft . The author does a remarkable amount of research to introduce the reader of the history back to Greek times forward to European witch hunts to the current beliefs and history in America. I enjoyed such a well rounded view of the cultures, customs and belief systems that got us to where we are today with prejudice still remaining of witches.
The author has included current beliefs and teachings by the Christian church that influence people even today.
I found this a fascinating read as a Witch and look forward to adding it to my library in hard cover. I highly recommend this book for all who have a interest in the history of witchcraft . Very well done to the author.
You know what they say, 'History is written by the winners'. A History of Magic and Witchcraft takes a deeper look at the misnomers, misconceptions, and all-out falsehoods of magic and witchcraft throughout history.NetGalley, Jennifer Blackmon
Timbers gives a detailed description of witchcraft and early earth-based practice through an unbiased lens from it's early beginnings to the "witch-craze" or how the witch-hunts began, and through the origins of Modern Wicca and witchcraft practices of today.
This book is very detailed and provides many in-depth stories with historical references and the evolution of practice and belief structures through time. The entire text was well-researched and full of academic and historical text references.
*Just bit of a warning that some of the chapters about witch hunts are bloody and maybe a little gory... so just you know, watch out if you're a bit squeamish.*
I highly recommend for those looking into the origins and historical progression of witchcraft through inception to modern practice.
Incredibly interesting. This looks at witchcraft from a historical and anthropological perspective and provides some really fascinating insights. Would definitely recommend.NetGalley, Poppy Angell
This book is a very detailed history of magic and witchcraft, covering mentions of magicians and scorceresses back to the time of Greek and Roman mythology.NetGalley, Jamie Wickam
The book covers the evolution of the use of magic, from the time when magic was considered to be harmless charms and the use of healing herbs to devil worship and demonology wherein we get our familiar stereotypes of evil witches out to harm others.
The author also focuses on societal attitudes towards practictioners of magic, and how and why that has changed throughout the centuries. These were generally driven by the eventual wide-spread acceptance of Christianity and influenced by the belief of women as the weaker sex, emotional and susceptible to the influence of evil forces.
This was a very well-researched, academic recounting, full of facts and case studies, as well as ancient text references. Highly recommended for anyone wanting to learn more about the origins of magic and witchcraft.
Timbers begins with Ancient Greece and Rome's understanding of magic and witchcraft, then moves through the decades to paint a picture of the development of the popular notions of witchcraft and how they changed throughout the times. Along the way she debunks many popular beliefs about the witch trials. For example: the Malleus Malleficarum, or the Hammer of Witches, was not in fact the most influential written text on witches and witchcraft, despite its infamy; the Inquisition was actually a moderating influence on witch hunts at the local level, which tended to spiral out of control; witch hunts were not a systemic and systematic woman-hunting endeavor; accused witches were not practitioners of a pre-Christian fertility cult; Wicca is a modern amalgamation of many different cultural influences and rituals and is not in fact a prehistoric religion.NetGalley, Hadeer Elsbai
Overall, I very much enjoyed the way this was written; there was depth and detail but it was not overly scholarly and is immensely accessible to the average reader... this is a thoroughly-researched and comprehensive account of the history of witchcraft in Western Europe; it does a superb job condensing hundreds of years of history in a logical and comprehensible way. I learned a ton!
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Brissy Ev
An amazing read for anyone that's interested not only in witchcraft and magic, but in religion and history as a whole. You can tell there was a strong, careful investigation process behind it that also manages to be respectful to all religions and stories mentioned and remain impartial enough for the message to be delivered straight and clear. As a witch, I really loved this book, and as a history junkie, I really LOVED this book.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Soukaïna Oujdad
As someone who is deeply fascinated by Magic and witchcraft, this book was very informative and satisfying.
What I liked the most was the change of the concepts and definitions of witches and magic throughout generations and cultures, and also how beliefs were formed and enforced by religion
the author provides a lot of explanation about the links and origins of some beliefs and behaviors of witches, such as flying, chanting and calling to the 4 elements. And I have to admit, this changed a lot of misconceptions I had about magic and witchcraft, especially the real reasons behind persecutions and witch hunts.
I Highly recommended it, if you are looking for enlightening about the history of witches.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Jack Messer
A History of Magic and Witchcraft: Sabbats, Satan and Superstitions in the West by Frances Timbers is the type of history book that appeals to both history buffs and those who realize the need to know history in order to impact the future.
There are plenty of histories of magic and witchcraft that simply provide a timeline of events with accepted explanations for those events. Some of them are quite good for what they are. Timbers combines such a history with what the work of history should do, make connections and posit explanations that make as much if not more sense than the accepted ones. Because so much of what we think we know about the subject is actually from propaganda from the time or popular culture from the more recent past, this book has to help us unlearn what we "knew" so we can then learn what is more accurate.
The focus of this book is on the period from the early middle ages to the early modern era. Timbers looks at the history from both on high (those making judgments) and from the working/peasant classes who use and in fact need much of what passed for magic. The prosecutions are reviewed from a legal perspective as well as a cultural one. And gender is examined with respect to both who practiced and who was prosecuted.
Whatever you know and whatever you think you know, this book will add to your understanding of what magic and witchcraft really were, what prosecutions and persecutions really reflected, and how such actions, regardless of the target, serve those in power. Highly recommended for both those interested in the topic itself as well as those who simply want to gain a fuller understanding of witch hunts, both historical and current. And also what isn't, in common usage, a witch hunt but is called such by guilty parties to shift the focus of public opinion.
This book answers every question I had about magic and witchcraft. It is thoroughly researched and provides a wealth of magical information. I was spellbound by the timeline of historical information that provided insight into magic, witchcraft, and its effect on civilizations throughout the centuries. This isn't a "hot=to" book, it's so much more! HIghly recommended for anyone who wants to know the facts and basis for modern witchcraft and magic.NetGalley, Magi Henderson
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Rebecca Hill
Get a look at the real inside story of the history of Magic and Witchcraft. The many different areas, folklore, and history can be blurred at times - with fiction overtaking fact a lot of the time.
In this book, Frances Timbers goes through everything - the myth, the legends, and the real history behind witchcraft. While Christianity had a huge effect on the practice, driving much of it underground, there were some horror stories that emerged during this time.
King James of England wrote a book on witches, and sadly, many took it to extremes that rocked Europe to its core. Innocent people were put to death over the rumor, and communities turned on each other as they battled to find the "witches" and save themselves in the process. Witchhunters and inquisitors came in, and the issue grew to epic proportions.
This was an amazing book and one that I really enjoyed. I loved reading the different stories, the history, and getting a more full story of what was going on, and why it happened.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Kathy Talley
This is an excellent book for anyone interested in this subject matter. The author provides the reader a solid non-fiction book about the history of witches/witchcraft/magic as perceived by our society throughout history in an understandable manner. From the very roots of witchcraft through the witch hunts of earlier times through the modern day views and concepts, the book takes the reader on an invaluable journey to learn how it all came to be, why it all came to be and how it all fits together. It was fascinating to learn why certain beliefs and events occur and occurred and what the repercussions of they all are. I definitely learned innumerable things I had not known, been taught or figured out on my own, even though some of my conclusions were proven wrong in many ways. This book provides an excellent book for anyone who is interested in the subject or wants to learn more about it all, and the information is all in one place, so there is no need to go searching after other books, articles, etc. No need for deep dives anywhere else. My thanks to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for providing me this handy, useful reference.
Thoroughly explained. The author gives a clear and detailed explanation of the "witch-craze". First, he introduces the concepts of witchcraft and magic, and then, he explains how the witch-hunt as we know it (women condemned to burn at the stake or hung) took place, giving several examples. Finally, we learn a bit about the origins of "Modern Wicca" and its main aspects.NetGalley, Macarena R.V.
There are also 36 images that are mentioned throughout the book, in order to get a better idea. Some of them are old illustrations, photographs of archaeological objects, and paints, among others.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso
A fascinating read, well researched and informative.
I love the style of writing and how well researched it is.
An interesting and well-researched book covering the history of witchcraft from its origins into today, this made for a fascinating read.NetGalley, Esther King
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Crystal Matz
This book dives deep into the actual facts of magic and witchcraft, for instance the number of victims compared to the inflated numbers that are now passed around as fact. The actual timeframe rather than the poetic platitude we often hear and ascribe to (middle ages vs. scientific revolution). The book highlights the facts that most of the trials was during the time of Galileo, Descartes, and Bacon. We travel from the priests and priestesses of ancient Egypt to the present in this comprehensive publication from Frances Timbers
This book is extremely comprehensive and absolutely worth a read if you’re a fan of either history or witchcraft. I’ve taken away many facts from this book that I did not know and also was educated about some misconceptions we’ve been taught as facts.
Even though this is a non-fiction book, the writing is not dry, and the story is a fascinating one. It leads you on to more knowledge in such a way that you’re not mad you’re learning it.
I definitely recommend this book for anyone who’s a history fan. Even if you think you know all about this topic, I’m here to tell you that you’ll learn something new and enjoy yourself while learning it.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Julianne Freer
A fascinating look at the history of Magic and Witchcraft.
A lot of what I thought I knew turned out to be wrong, and I learned so much from this book.
Starting with Ancient Greece, through Rome, into the Middle Ages, continuing into the Early Modern Era, showing the impact of Christianity and pop culture, leading into ceremonial magic & Wicca this comprehensive fact-filled book will enthrall and intrigue the reader.
A History of Magic and Witchcraft by Frances Timbers is a wonderful non fiction book about the history of witches/witchcraft/magic as perceived by our society throughout history. I remember taking an Early Modern History course back in college while getting my degree and finding the areas covering the witch craze by far the most interesting parts. I also thought I was pretty knowledgeable about the topic but still found that I learned quite a few things. Especially about how the 20th century influenced my learning about witches in history. The book while non fiction isn't dry. I hate when history texts are dry. Timbers has a great style. I will say that she has a tendency to repeat some information again and again. But for a novice non fiction reader I think this book is enjoyable. I also loved all the pictures that she placed in the text as well.NetGalley, Rachelle Robison
The book starts in the classical era and goes through the 21st century. I found this piece to be so fascinating. I definitely learned a lot.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Dawn Lewis
Consider me educated on the "History of Magic and Witchcraft". It turns out that a lot of what I thought I knew is wrong - and I now know why it was wrong too! This book is informative without being at all dry, and I found the whole thing fascinating. From the roots of magic and witchcraft, to the "witch hunts", to the modern day Wiccan, this book clarifies the muddied waters of this subject.
This books takes you through the entire history of witchcraft and magic. It takes you through Ancient Greece & Rome, the Middle Ages. Early Modern Era, the impact of Christianity & pop culture, ceremonial magic & Wicca. It was very informative. This is an excellent book that is perfect for either a reference book or just for someone who is interested in learning more about the topic.NetGalley, Sherri Lewis
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Cynthia Jones
Is it fair for me to say, we all believe in something? Even if we choose to believe there is no God or any religion of any kind, isn’t that alone a choice and belief? Every culture has their ideals that are passed on generation to generation. This book, A History of Magic and Witchcraft identifies the differences and takes the reader through notions that may never be introduced to them otherwise. Thankfully we have books.
This book gets a five star because it is absolutely deserving. An exquisite cover with rich content that is superbly written. I do have a big pet peeve though that almost kept me from reading this book for a review. I want to add my rant to my review now. However, there was no way in hell I could give this book anything less than a five.
This book feels to me as an explanation of beliefs and where they may have originated from. How people and cultures use religion as a life force. A part of every day life and death. How Gods play a role in culture and with individuals. In their lives and how they may have developed ethics and morals from those beliefs.
To read about Gods and Goddesses, deities and the incredible religious stories many of us have been told all our lives, in this fashion is calming. The information is laid out without hesitation to be reported as history. In comparing one set of beliefs with another highlighting different concepts, cultures and views. Be it true, fiction, fable or myth is for the reader to decide. I wont sell the beauty of this book based on my own personal beliefs. I will say this…it is written so fantastically the reader will want to take in every single word. It is also one to have in a collection to be used as reference or for resource.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Ily Renfroe
A History of Magic and Witchcraft is exactly that - a history of magic and witchcraft throughout the world. It is very well written and easy to follow. I learned some interesting new things I did not know about this topic. It is I believe a book full of information in one place.
If you want to learn about magic and witchcraft or even if you already know about this topic, this is a great book to have as a reference.
Definitely recommend this book.
A very interesting and highly readable telling of the history of witchcraft throughout the world, including how the definition of "witch" has changed over generations. As someone who loves learning about history, I found this a fascinating one!NetGalley, Erin Childs
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.For the Love of Books
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.
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.A Line From A Book, Jennifer Sahmoun
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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.SF Crowsnest
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'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! The Anxious Bookworm
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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.Hellbound, Steve Earles
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Author Q&A as featured byThe 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.Hisdoryan, Claire Miles
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`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.The Nerdy Girl Express
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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.Midwest Book Review
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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.The Quiet Knitter
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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.Where There's Ink There's Paper, Lauren Gent
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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