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The Book of the Law, the holy text that forms the basis of Thelema, was transmitted to Crowley by the entity known as Aiwass in Cairo, on three successive days during April 1904. Acting as a medium, Crowley recorded the communications on hotel notepads and later organized his automatic writing into a short, coherent document. Aiwass/Crowley presents The Book of the Law as an expression of three god-forms in three chapters: Nuit, Hadit, and Ra-Hoor-Khuit.
Witchcraft is a subject that fascinates us all, and everyone knows what a witch is - or do they? From childhood most of us develop a sense of the mysterious, malign person, usually an old woman. Historically, too, we recognize witch-hunting as a feature of pre-modern societies. But why do witches still feature so heavily in our cultures and consciousness? From Halloween to superstitions, and literary references such as Faust and even Harry Potter, witches still feature heavily in our society. In this Very Short Introduction Malcolm Gaskill challenges all of this, and argues that what we think we know is, in fact, wrong. Taking a historical perspective from the ancient world to contemporary paganism, Gaskill reveals how witchcraft has meant different things to different people and that in every age it has raised questions about the distinction between fantasy and reality, faith and proof. Telling stories, delving into court records, and challenging myths, Gaskill examines the witch-hunts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and explores the reinvention of witchcraft - as history, religion, fiction, and metaphor. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Witchcraft: The Basics is an accessible and engaging introduction to the scholarly study of witchcraft, exploring the phenomenon of witchcraft from its earliest definitions in the Middle Ages through to its resonances in the modern world. Through the use of two case studies, this book delves into the emergence of the witch as a harmful figure within western thought and traces the representation of witchcraft throughout history, analysing the roles of culture, religion, politics, gender and more in the evolution and enduring role of witchcraft. Key topics discussed within the book include: The role of language in creating and shaping the concept of witchcraft The laws and treatises written against witchcraft The representation of witchcraft in early modern literature The representation of witchcraft in recent literature, TV and film Scholarly approaches to witchcraft through time The relationship between witchcraft and paganism With an extensive further reading list, summaries and questions to consider at the end of each chapter, Witchcraft: The Basics is an ideal introduction for anyone wishing to learn more about this controversial issue in human culture, which is still very much alive today.
The confessions of Isobel Gowdie are widely recognised as the most extraordinary on record in Britain. Their descriptive power and vivid imagery have attracted considerable interest on both academic and popular levels. Among historians, the confessions are celebrated for providing a unique insight into the way fairy beliefs and witch beliefs interacted in the early modern mind; more controversially, they are also cited as evidence for the existence of Shamanistic visionary traditions, of pre-Christian origin, in Scotland in this period. On a popular level the confessions of Isobel Gowdie have, above any other British witch-trial records, influenced the formation of the ritual traditions of Wicca. The authors discovery of the original trial records (currently being authenticated by the National Archives of Scotland), deemed lost for nearly 200 years, provides a starting point for an interdisciplinary look at the confessions and the woman behind them. Using historical, psychological, comparative religious and anthropological perspectives this book sets out to separate the voice of Isobel Gowdie from that of her interrogators, and to determine the experiences and beliefs which may have generated her confessions. The book explores: How far did those accused of witchcraft self-consciously practice harmful magic? Did they really believe themselves to have made a Pact with an envisioned Devil? Did they ever participate in ecstatic cult rituals? The author argues that close analysis of Isobels testimony supports the view that in seventeenth-century Britain popular spirituality was shaped by a deep interaction between Christian teachings and shamanistic visionary traditions, of pre-Christian origin. These findings confirm the value of witchcraft confessions as unique windows into the complexities of the early modern religious imagination.
The late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are known as the Age of Enlightenment, a time of science and reason. But in this illuminating book, Paul Monod reveals the surprising extent to which Newton, Boyle, Locke, and other giants of rational thought and empiricism also embraced the spiritual, the magical, and the occult. Although public acceptance of occult and magical practices waxed and waned during this period they survived underground, experiencing a considerable revival in the mid-eighteenth century with the rise of new anti-establishment religious denominations. The occult spilled over into politics with the radicalism of the French Revolution and into literature in early Romanticism. Even when official disapproval was at its strongest, the evidence points to a growing audience for occult publications as well as to subversive popular enthusiasm. Ultimately, finds Monod, the occult was not discarded in favour of reason but was incorporated into new forms of learning. In that sense, the occult is part of the modern world, not simply a relic of an unenlightened past, and is still with us today.
On September 20, 1587, Walpurga Hausmannin of Dillingen in southern
Germany was burned at the stake as a witch. Although she had
confessed to committing a long list of "maleficia" (deeds of
harmful magic), including killing forty--one infants and two
mothers in labor, her evil career allegedly began with just one
heinous act--sex with a demon. Fornication with demons was a major
theme of her trial record, which detailed an almost continuous orgy
of sexual excess with her diabolical paramour Federlin "in many
divers places, . . . even in the street by night."
Why do the innocent suffer in a world created by a loving God? Does this mean that God cannot prevent this suffering, despite His supposed omnipotence? Or is God not loving after all? This in brief is 'the problem of evil'. The Devil provides one solution to this problem: his rebellion against God and hatred of His works is responsible for evil. The Christian Devil has fascinated writers and theologians since the time of the New Testament, and inspired many dramatic and haunting works of art. Today he remains a potent image in popular culture. The Devil: A Very Short Introduction presents an introduction to the Devil in the history of ideas and the lives of real people. Darren Oldridge shows us that he is a more important figure in western history than is often appreciated, and also a richly complex and contradictory one. Oldridge focuses on three main themes: the idea of the Devil being integral to western thought from the early Middle Ages to the beginnings of modernity; the principle of 'demonic inversion' (the idea that as the eternal leader of the opposition, the Devil represents the mirror image of goodness); and the multiplicity and instability of ideas about the Devil. While belief in the Devil has declined, the idea of an abstract force of evil is still remarkably strong. Oldridge concludes by exploring 'demonological' ways of thinking in our own time, including allegations of 'satanic ritual abuse' and the on-going 'war on terror'. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
This is the first systematic exploration of the intriguing connections between Victorian physical sciences and the study of the controversial phenomena broadly classified as psychic, occult and paranormal. These phenomena included animal magnetism, spirit-rapping, telekinesis and telepathy. Richard Noakes shows that psychic phenomena interested far more Victorian scientists than we have previously assumed, challenging the view of these scientists as individuals clinging rigidly to a materialistic worldview. Physicists, chemists and other physical scientists studied psychic phenomena for a host of scientific, philosophical, religious and emotional reasons, and many saw such investigations as exciting new extensions to their theoretical and experimental researches. While these attempted extensions were largely unsuccessful, they laid the foundations of modern day explorations of the connections between physics and psychic phenomena. This revelatory study challenges our view of the history of physics, and deepens our understanding of the relationships between science and the occult, and science and religion.
"Witches and Neighbours "is a highly original and unconventional
analysis of a fascinating historical phenomenon. Unlike other
studies of the subject which focus on the mechanisms of
persecution, this book presents a rich picture of witchcraft as an
all-pervasive aspect of life in early modern Europe.
Robin Briggs combines recent research with his own
investigations to produce a brilliant and compelling account of the
central role of witchcraft in the past. Although the history of
witchcraft can only be studied through records of persecutions,
these reveal that trials were unusual in everyday life and that
witchcraft can be viewed as a form of therapy. Witchcraft was also
an outlet and expression of many fundamental anxieties of society
and individuals in a time when life was precarious. The book argues
that witchcraft - its belief and persecutions - cannot be explained
by general causes but was as complex and changing as the society of
which it formed a vital part.
Since its original publication in 1996, this book has become the
standard work on the subject of witchcraft. It now appears in a
revised edition with an updated bibliography.
This book is not available from Blackwell in the United States and the Philippines.
In Victorian Britain, a group of eminent scientists got together to found a society expressly to prove the existence of ghosts. The age of Darwin represented the greatest scientific advances known to man. The tension between science and religion was exposed by Darwin's On the Origin of the Species in 1859, which challenged the basic tenets of belief. Yet many of those in the forefront of the scientific revolution could not give up the idea of a higher reality. Life after death was the unknown frontier. Victorian society was full of mediums claiming they could communicate with the spirits of the dead. Baffling psychic phenomena occurred every day at seances: mysterious rappings were heard, furniture moved, ghostly forms appeared, the mediums spoke in the altered voices of the dead with information only their nearest could possibly know. Pyschometry involving locks of hair and watches and children's toys; telepathy; ouija boards; apparitions; astral projection: all were commonplace. In 1882 the Society of Psychical Research was founded in London to investigate all these phenomena: it was a group led by some of the greatest scientists of the age but its membership also included Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Leslie Stephen, Virginia Woolf's father, John Ruskin, the Reverend Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). Six months later William James, Professor of Psychology at Harvard, and the brother of Henry James visited London and went on to set up American branch. Their experiments went on for years. Many mediums, like the notorious Madame Blavatsky, were exposed as charlatans yet there were some mediums who continued to communicate directly with another world, who despite every rigorous scientific test seemed to prove that souls survived death. This is the story of this group of forward thinkers: many of whom were driven to the spirit world by personal tragedy, some whose feeling of loss lead to their own suicides. It is the story of the greatest ghost hunt of any age.
Who are the familiar spirits of classical culture and what is their
relationship to Christian demons? In its interpretation of Latin
and Greek culture, Christianity contends that Satan is behind all
classical deities, semi-gods, and spiritual creatures, including
the gods of the household, the lares and penates." "But with "In
the Company of Demons," the world's leading demonologist Armando
Maggi argues that the great thinkers of the Italian Renaissance had
a more nuanced and perhaps less sinister interpretation of these
creatures or spiritual bodies.
What actually took place in the private laboratory of a
mid-seventeenth century alchemist? How did he direct his quest
after the secrets of Nature? What instruments and theoretical
principles did he employ?
How does democracy fare when the people governed insist they live
in a world with witches? If the government of a people afflicted by
witchcraft refuses to punish witches, how does it avoid becoming
alienated from the perceived needs of its people or, worse, seen as
being in league with witches? In Soweto, South Africa, the constant
threat of violent crime, the increase in black socio-economic
inequality, the AIDS pandemic, and a widespread fear of witchcraft
have converged to create a pervasive sense of insecurity among
citizens and a unique public policy problem for government.
This is an analysis of a popular scare about black magic and Satanism in the North of Ireland between 1972 and 1974. The book gives an insight into a particularly grim period during the early 1970s in Northern Ireland, using an extremely unusual episode - the black magic rumours - as a privileged window onto a world that may now be behind us, but which continues to fascinate many readers. The book provides a fascinating insight into some of the problems and procedures of social history. The author demonstrates that phenomena like the black magic rumours cannot be understood without taking a multidisciplinary approach, taking in perspectives and comparative evidence from anthropology, sociology, folklore and media studies.
Rediscovering Renaissance Witchcraft is an exploration of witchcraft in the literature of Britain and America from the 16th and 17th centuries through to the present day. As well as the themes of history and literature (politics and war, genre and intertextuality), the book considers issues of national identity, gender and sexuality, race and empire, and more. The complex fascination with witchcraft through the ages is investigated, and the importance of witches in the real world and in fiction is analysed. The book begins with a chapter dedicated to the stories and records of witchcraft in the Renaissance and up until the English Civil War, such as the North Berwick witches and the work of the `Witch Finder Generall' Matthew Hopkins. The significance of these accounts in shaping future literature is then presented through the examination of extracts from key texts, such as Shakespeare's Macbeth and Middleton's The Witch, among others. In the second half of the book, the focus shifts to a consideration of the Romantic rediscovery of Renaissance witchcraft in the eighteenth century, and its further reinvention and continued presence throughout the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including the establishment of witchcraft studies as a subject in its own right, the impact of the First World War and end of the British Empire on witchcraft fiction, the legacy of the North Berwick, Hopkins and Salem witch trials, and the position of witchcraft in culture, including filmic and televisual culture, today. Equipped with an extensive list of primary and secondary sources, Rediscovering Renaissance Witchcraft is essential reading for all students of witchcraft in modern British and American culture and early modern history and literature.
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