marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

The Triumph of the Moon

The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft by Ronald Hutton

An interesting look at the influences and currents prior to, and their culmination in, the developments of modern pagan witchcraft. In Great Britain, and somewhat in the United States.

The first part I found the most interesting. The Victorian writers treatment of pagan gods and goddesses. How Minerva and Juno passed out of favor in poetical allusions, and while Diana and Venus kept it, they also turned into goddess of the wild. Plus the addition of the Mother Earth only loosely based pagan sources. How all the Greek gods popular in early allusions gave way -- Apollo had a brief upsurge, only to give way -- and how Pan rose to prominence.

The continuation of "high" magic traditions from the Renaissance and earlier, and their mutations -- the pentagram only acquired a definite meaning in the middle of the Middle Ages, and there it was divine, and a protection from evil spirits.

The actual practitioners of folk magic -- the cunning folk who were expected not only to be literate, but to own books, the charmers who works a simpler magic and generally refused payment (and while many accepted gifts, often of food, one was known to reject even thanks on the grounds that healing with his charm was a God-given duty).

The secret societies, like the Horseman's Word, which arose when draft horses became standard in Britain, and their sometimes conscious diabolism. And their claimed ancient roots.

And then he dealt with the convergence of all this in a modern matrix. Which I found less interesting than the earlier parts, but is full with stuff and facts for those more interested in the actual development.
Tags: history reviews: 19th century-wwi

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