Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Book Review - Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival by Mélusine Draco

Merry meet!

Today I would like to share another review, this time for a non-fiction work to be published next month.

"Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival - A Magical Anthropology" is a fascinating book that charts what we know - and indeed don't know - about the history of witchcraft, taking us from archaeological evidence from the Palaeolithic era right through to the invention of Wicca in the 20th century and it's impact on society.

So many books I've read on witchcraft make claims about the roots of their beliefs and rituals, and as something of a history geek this has always annoyed me.  Authors who claim a link to a glorious and noble ancient heritage often fail to mention that it is all supposition with a large dash of romanticism.  We can no more know for certain the beliefs and practices of Neolithic times than we can those of our earliest ancestors who still lived in trees, yet what this book manages to do is to collate the latest archeological evidence and the opinions of experts in this field and lay out the few facts we do know.

As the chapters progress we are shown how societal changes influenced the magickal practices of the times, from the invasion of the Romans and the subsequent rolling out of Christianity, through the Middle Ages and the rise of the Cunning Folk, and into the age of science and computers.

I really liked this book.  Each chapter covers a different era of our magickal development, and at the end provides a summary and "The Story So Far" so you never feel overwhelmed by the information and as a result I was able to follow the arguments from one chapter to the next and came out feeling enlightened.

Another thing I liked was the fact that the author isn't afraid to tell it how it is.  What this means when reading the book is that if there is no factual evidence for something she tells you, which I suspect some pagans may find a bit brutal.  Personally I liked this aspect. One of the reasons I rejected Wicca early on in my path is that it is a modern creation; I am looking for something older, though the lack of written documents and limited archaeological evidence means I feel I am chasing a will o' the wisp.  In this book there are clear pointers for further education and the extensive bibliography will be invaluable as I continue on my path.

I am a firm believer in the idea that we cannot fully understand who we are until we understand how we came to be here, and as a result I heartily recommend this book to anyone with a genuine curiosity about the history of witchcraft and it's influences on 21st century practices.

"Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival - A Magical Anthropology" by Mélusine Draco is published on 30th August 2013 by Moon Books.

Blessed be )0(


  1. This has been one of my largest issues as of late and i am happy for someone to come forward and lay the fact out and actually dig in and do some research. there is a serious lacking in factual research on european witchcraft. i can still vividly remember the argument that happend in my wicca 101 course in which someone was angry that i had said wicca isnt an ancient religion. too many new and old books claiming the root of witchcraft! i may have to check this book out!

    1. Exactly! Britain has a long and ancient history with witchcraft running right through it, but to claim it is a continuous history is, to put it bluntly, a lie. Aspects such as herbalism do have a recorded development, but the spiritual side? No.

      I'd love to hear your opinion if you do read this book; her research is laid out for all to see, complete with gaps where we just don't know something. I think this should actually be compulsory reading! :)