All entries for Sunday 09 October 2005

October 09, 2005

Aradia, or, The Gospel of the Witches

3 out of 5 stars

"Aradia" may not need much introduction… but for what it's worth, it is the translation (a new translation is included, see below) of an Italian MS which was supposedly given to G Leland, purporting to detail practices of Italian witchcraft.

Various debates about the provenance of the material aside (debates which are detailed in both this book and in Triumph, already listed here), Aradia was clearly used as source material by folk such as Gardner and Valiente – it contains, for instance, the basis for what became the Charge of the Goddess.

The translation here is a new one, and much better than Leland's (the original is supplied, both in dialect and in Italian – reminiscient of some editions of Dante!).

For the notes and the translation, this is a very good edition of Aradia.

Level: one.

Triumph of the moon

3 out of 5 stars

Another stalwart. Another one getting on in years, but still if not unique, then groundbreaking at the time.

Hutton's research is sound and well supported (as one would expect). He makes his own views known about some still controversial subjects (Leland, Old Dorothy, etc.) but his views are supported by the evidence (which is refreshing, if nothing else, considering other things written in this area).

Basic background reading.

Religion and the decline of magic

4 out of 5 stars

I would have said that this book is almost required reading for anyone interested in the history of magic in the UK. Yes, it's getting on a bit – and there are bits of it which have been superceded by other research, but still, it's important enough that I've replaced it at least once (lend ye not books to students who move away…).

It takes a good look at exactly what the title says – how magic declined in popularity (perhaps questionable, but in terms of his definition of the term, "magic", a valid premise) – and also how long that decline actually took.

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