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The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft

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9780816038497: The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft
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Identifies famous witches, explains terms dealing with witchcraft, and describes related churches and organizations

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From the Inside Flap:

In the decade-plus since the first edition of this book was written, there has been a veritable explosion of information on the subject of witchcraft, especially as it is perceived in Western society. Some of it is historical, dealing with new accounts of the European witch-hunts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Most of this new information relates to Witchcraft (with a capital W) the contemporary Pagan religion: a Nature- and Goddess-based spiritual path reconstructed from Pagan beliefs and rites, folk magic and ceremonial magic. This contemporary religion, also called Wicca, bears some resemblance to witchcraft as a tradition of folk magic, but has nothing in common with the Devil-worshipping beliefs of the witch-hunts.

The original intent of this encyclopedia was to provide a compendium of entries related to the history and aspects of witchcraft, up to and including the contemporary developments of Witchcraft, Wicca and Paganism. Although I have included some cross-cultural entries, the focus of the book is on Western magic and witchcraft. There are new entries on historical figures and topics related to folklore, magic and folk witchcraft. Many entries have been updated and expanded, and given "further reading" lists that will benefit the reader.

As for contemporary Witchcraft, I have updated entries and added a few new ones. This rapidly growing religion is evolving on its own in its own directions, and probably needs an encyclopedia of its own. I have covered major points and a selection of prominent people. I have not attempted to provide an exhaustive account of the many and ever-changing permutations of, and debates within, Witchcraft and Paganism, nor have I attempted to compile a who's-who list of personages. Witchcraft the religion is but one aspect of the overall subject of witchcraft.

As in the first edition, I have capitalized Witch and Witchcraft when referring to contemporary religious persuasions, and have left it lowercase when referring to folk tradition and sorcery. The same applies to Pagan and Paganism: capitalized when in the context of contemporary religion, lowercase when referring to pre-Christian religions and rites.

Because the distinction between Witchcraft and witchcraft can be confusing, I have to side with the Witches who are preferring the term Wicca. I expect the use of the terms Wicca and Wiccan to increase as this religion continues to grow. Nonetheless, there remain many Witches who are firm about retaining Witch and Witchcraft to describe their religion. It is up to the public, then, to learn to distinguish between Witchcraft the religion and witchcraft the folk tradition.

Paganism is now a topic of serious academic and religious study, and is taking its place among the diverse faiths of the world. Much of the credit for this goes to a contemporary romance with nature, a desire for personal transcendent experience (which Paganism offers), and to the Witches and Pagans who have campaigned tirelessly to educate the public about what they believe and practice. Ten years ago, few were willing to be open in the public. Today, the public can choose from countless books, periodicals and websites. The openness provides an unusual opportunity to watch the evolution of new religions.

From Library Journal:

Don't look for the Blair Witch in these pages; this new edition retains the balanced tone and thorough scholarship of the first. Guiley, author of the previous edition and many other books on occult and New Age topics (e.g., Dreamwork for the Soul; Encyclopedia of Angels), covers both historical witchcraft (particularly the witch trials of Reformation Europe and Colonial America) and contemporary witchcraft and Wiccan and pagan practice in over 500 detailed, clearly written, alphabetically arranged entries of various lengths. The second edition incorporates new historical research on the origins of witchcraft and updates and expands coverage of the modern revival, its most influential leaders, the organizations, and their practices. The bibliography includes many new titles, and most entries list books for further reading. Revised See references and cross references improve access to information, and more than 100 black-and-white illustrations augment the text. General topics or ones tangential to witchcraft such as "Trees" and "Astrology" have been omitted, but entries related to mythology, folk magic, and the occult still appear, giving this book a broader perspective than the more arcane resources on this popular subject. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.AVivian Reed, Long Beach P.L., CA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

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