Annotated Bibliography of Histories and
Ethnographies of Interest to Contemporary Pagans
Christine Hoff Kraemer,
(a work in progress)
Designed especially for the smart and skeptical contemporary Pagan practitioner who is frustrated with the bad history that is rampant in so many contemporary Pagan books.
* - highly recommended; a must-read
history and "history" (modern)
Albanese, Catherine - Nature Religion in
Greer, Mary K. - Women of the Golden Dawn (1994). History by a well-known Tarot specialist.
Heselton, Philip - Wiccan Roots: Gerald Gardner and the Modern Witchcraft Revival (2001). History of British traditional Wicca by a non-academic, initiated practitioner. Written as a counter to Hutton.
Howe, Ellie - The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order, 1887-1923 (1978).
Hutton, Ronald - Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual
*Hutton, Ronald - The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft (2000). Definitive book on the origins of British Traditional Wicca by a respected historian. Particularly useful in the way it shows literary and scholarly origins for many of Wicca's distinctive features and connects Wicca with the late 19th- and early 20th-century British occult movement. Despite debunking much of Wicca's mythological history, manages to be respectful and even admiring of its subjects.
Kuntz, Darcy and Greer, Mary - Chronology of the Golden Dawn: Being the Chronological History of a Magical Order (2000).
Purkiss, Diane - The Witch in History: Early Modern and Twentieth-century Representations (1996).
history and "history" (medieval and renaissance)
Briggs, Robin - Witches & Neighbors: The Social and Cultural Context of European Witchcraft (1996).
Cohn, Norman -
Gibbons, Jenny - “The Great European Witch-Hunt” in Accord (Spring 2000), pp.16-25. Back issues may be available from http://www.magickal-arts.org/accords/. Also appeared in Pangaia #21 (http://www.pangaia.com). A shorter version without the full bibliography can be found at http://www.cog.org/witch_hunt.html. A concise and scholarly explanation of why the witch persecutions were both less severe and less religiously driven than you’ve probably been told. Written by a Pagan with an MA in medieval history.
Brian - The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern
*Murray, Margaret - The Witch Cult in
Murray, Margaret - The God of the Witches (1933). Made
Russell, Jeffrey B. - A History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics, and Pagans (1982). Charming, heavily illustrated, readable text by a history professor. Does a particularly good job in distinguishing the "witchcraft" of which medieval heretics were accused and contemporary Neo-Paganism, while showing the ways in which contemporary Pagans have used that history.
Seligmann, Kurt - The History of Magic and the Occult (1948). Encyclopedic history by an artist and magician. Properly considered a mix of legend and history.
history and "history" (ancient)
Eisler, Riane - The Chalice and the Blade: Our History, Our Future (1987). Advocates for a return to a more egalitarian social model as represented by a matriarchal past, which Eisler refers to as a "partnership" model. Admirable aims, but full of outright historical errors, as well as relying on long-debunked scholarship.
*Eller, Cynthia - The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won't Give Women a Future (2000). Academic work debunking the myth of matriarchal prehistory, which it does thoroughly and convincingly. Less convincing in its argument that this narrative is also destructive even just as a sacred story.
Frymer-Kensky, Tikva - In the Wake of the Goddesses: Women, Culture and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth (1992).
Gadon, Elinor - The Once and Future Goddess : A Sweeping Visual Chronicle of the Sacred Female and Her Reemergence in the Cultural Mythology of Our Time (1989). Lavishly illustrated summary of the narrative of matriarchal prehistory by an art historian. Highly ideological and reliant on debunked scholarship.
Marija - Goddesses
and Gods of Old
Goodison, Lucy & Morris, Christine, eds. - Ancient Goddesses: The Myths and the Evidence (1998). Wonderful collections of essays by feminist archaeologists addressing Gimbutas’ work, Çatalhöyük, ancient Near East, Israelite, and Egyptian goddesses, Minoan Crete, and much more.
Hutton, Ronald - The Pagan Religions of the Ancient
*Stone, Merlin - When God Was a Woman (1976). Focuses on the ancient Near East. Perhaps the best of the books of Goddess history written by a non-specialist (Stone is an art historian rather than an archaeologist). Smart, especially about the Bible in the context of ancient Near East history, but is best read next to an archaeological study of ancient Goddess worship like Goodison & Morris's.
biography, autobiography, and hearsay
Bracelin, J.L. - Gerald Gardner: Witch (1960).
Carter, John & Wilson, Robert Anton - Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons (2000).
Crowther, Patricia - High Priestess (1999).
Curott, Phyllis - Book of Shadows: A Modern Woman's Journey into the Wisdom of Witchcraft and the Magic of the Goddess (1998).
Deutch, Richard - The Ecstatic Mother: Portrait of Maxine Sanders, Witch Queen (1977).
Duquette, Lon Milo - My Life With the Spirits: The Adventures of a Modern Magician (1999). Funny, matter-of-fact, and down-to-earth memoir by a well-known member of the OTO.
Farrell-Roberts, Jani - The Seven Days of My Creation: Tales of Magic, Sex and Gender (2002).
Johns, June - King of the Witches: The World of Alex Sanders (1970). Homophobic, racist, sexist, sensationalistic, and highly mythologized account of Alex Sanders' life. Nevertheless, provides insight into the development of British Traditional Witchcraft in the 1960's, and contains an excellent interview with Sanders in the back.
Kaczynski, Richard - Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley (2002).
Sutin, Lawrence - Do What Thou Wilt: A Life of Aleister Crowley (2000).
ethnography, journalism, and descriptive accounts
*Adler, Margot - Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids,
Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in
Berger, Helen A. - A Community of Witches: Contemporary
Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft in the
Berger, Helen, Evan
Leach, & Leigh Shaffer - Voices from
the Pagan Census: A National Survey of Witches and Neo-Pagans in the
Evans, A. - Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture (1981).
Harvey, Graham - Contemporary Paganism: Listening
People, Speaking Earth (1997). Introduction to
contemporary Paganism in its exceedingly diverse forms by a religious studies
scholar. Topics: Celebrating the Seasons, Druidry,
The Craft of Witches, Heathens, Goddess Spirituality,
Magic, Shamanism, Ecology, Earth Mysteries, The
Hopman, Ellen, Lawrence Bond, & Destiny Books - People of the Earth: The New Pagans Speak Out (1995). Interviews with practitioners.
Hume, Lynne - Witchcraft and Paganism in
Larner, Christina - Witchcraft and Religion: The Politics of Popular Belief (1984).
Lewis, James R., ed. - Magical Religion and Modern Witchcraft (1996). Collection of essays by academics and practitioners of Neopaganism. Sections on worldview, ritual, history and "history," ethics, Christianity and Paganism, and literature reviews. Articles by several significant figures in Pagan studies. Detailed literature reviews could be very helpful for academic study.
Luhrmann, T.M. - Persuasions of the Witch's Craft: Ritual
Magic in Contemporary
Orion, Loretta - Never Again the Burning Times: Paganism Revived (1994). A solid ethnography, perhaps insufficiently skeptical about the "official" history of British Traditional Witchcraft. Field work is American and mostly from the 1980s. Explores both festival and coven culture, and emphasizes models of witchcraft as art, counterculture, and religious basis for alternative healing.
Pike, Sarah M. - Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community (2001).
- Enchanted Feminism: Ritual
Constructions of Gender, Agency and Divinity among the Reclaiming Witches of
York, Michael - The Emerging Network: A Sociology of the New Age and Neo-pagan Movements (1995).