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The God of the Witches (Galaxy Books) Paperback – September 15, 1970


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The God of the Witches (Galaxy Books) + The Witch-cult in Western Europe + Witchcraft Today
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Product Details

  • Series: Galaxy Books (Book 332)
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (September 15, 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195012704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195012705
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,688,515 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"An important and fascinating book."--New Statesman and Nation

"A book of absorbing interest."--Psychic News

About the Author


The late Margaret Murray is the author of The Witch Cult in Western Europe, also available from Oxford.

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Customer Reviews

She would agree with me, if she were able.
T. Walker
Scholars have gone too far in their retreat from Murray, since many fragments of pagan religion do certainly appear in medieval witchcraft.
Bocasdeltorro
I suspect Murray would argue that this detail was invented but it is in the trial's record.
Davd P. Rundle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Bocasdeltorro on June 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
I actually came to this book after reading other scholarly texts that disprove, and books by modern witches that reluctantly admit to, the many unproven and unprovable assertions Margaret Murray made back in 1921. But, still, this book remains fascinating for its role in the growth of modern paganism and witchcraft -- and as a testament to the scholarly brilliance and creative thinking of a woman in what was still very much the male world of reseach and academia.
Murray was a brilliant thinker and researcher, but like many such people (male and female) since, and many more to come, her work has fed generations who have grown with her and now beyond her. Disproving her thesis does not denegrate the work or it's role in the history of a modern world religion.
I think the most fair assessment of the book's merits and demerits can be found in Jeffrey B. Russell's 1970s "A History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics, and Pagans":
"Modern historical scholarship rejects the Murray thesis with all its variants. Scholars have gone too far in their retreat from Murray, since many fragments of pagan religion do certainly appear in medieval witchcraft. But the fact remains that the Murray thesis on the whole is untenable. The argument for the survival of any coherent fertility cult from antiquity through the Middle Ages into the present is riddled with fallacies..."
That doesn't mean that someone may not come up with a stronger set of theory or evidence later (after standing on the shoulders of a pioneer like Murray), but for now we have to admit the interesting but untenable nature of her sequence of evidence and her bottom-line conclusions.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By P. A. Agnew on May 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
The basic outline of Murray's arguments are well summarised by the reviewers below. For nearly 50 years, Margaret Murray's intrepretations on the early-modern witch-hunts were the yardstick from which all other contributions in this field were instinctively tested. However, in the 1970's a new generation of historians emerged who challenged Murray's approach and the methods of research she employed into the evidence.
Norman Cohn, in his book "Europe's Inner Demons" presented an impressive rebuttal of Murray's ideas on witchcraft. In fact, so compelling was Cohn's dissent that virtually no witchcraft text since has supported Murray. Consequently, if you are looking for a good, definitive text on European witchcraft, don't come here.
Instead, here are some books that you might want to look into:
Keith Thomas "Religion and the Decline of Magic" which is confined mainly to England, but to this day remains a definitive bible on witchcraft.
Robin Briggs "Witches and Neighbours" is a book of major scholarly significance that concentrates on most of Western Europe.
Brian Levack "The Witch-Hunt in Early Modern Europe." Like Briggs, Levack covers all of Europe, but according to the former, Levack's approach is "competent, but unadventurous." Nevertheless, for causal readers, Levack's book is well worth a read.
Geoffrey Scarre "Witchcraft and Magic in 16th and 17th Century Europe." For all you university students out there who are anxious to get a crash-course introduction to European witchcraft, you can now relax!
Good luck and happy reading.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 1997
Format: Paperback
Historically speaking, this book deserves a rating of 1. "The God of the Witches" basically re-states the theories of "Witch Cult in Modern Europe" -- in a more extreme and dogmatic form. Murray's theories were conclusively debunked in the 1970's. Scholars demonstrated that she twisted and falsified evidence, that she ignored the vast majority of our data on historical Witchcraft. On the other hand, this book had a profound impact on modern Witchcraft (one might say a profoundly BAD impact, but that's another issue). So this is an important book to read if you want to understand the development of Wicca and modern Paganism. Just don't mistake it for history
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Hoffman, author:Radiation Days: A Comedy VINE VOICE on August 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
We would do well, at a remove of about 80 years to consider Margaret Murray's The God of the Witches as a religious document in itself. It propounded the idea that there was a remnant of paganism that was practiced in Europe despite the domination by and opposition of the Church. At the time of its writing, the dominant idea was that the persecution of witchcraft was a wholly mendacious exercise of social control. Murray's book was a mild and necessary corrective.
One of the results of her work was the contribution to the rise of contemporary paganism of a certain historical depth. This book matters because it mattered to many readers, not because it's correct.

Lynn Hoffman, author of bang BANG
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 1999
Format: Paperback
In the light of recent scholarship by researchers such as Carlo Ginzburg, Murray' supposedly "discredited" theories look a lot better today than they did in the 1970's. She needs to be reassessed in this light.
It's a shame that Norman Cohn is so often seen as having made the definitive criticism; his own textual manipulations in the presentation of such documents as the Canon Episcopi make his accusations against Murray seem rather hollow. His major criticism of Murray is that he claims she left out mention of supposedly "impossible" elements in accounts by accused Witches, thus making their tales seem plausible. In fact, she did no such thing; her books are arranged thematicaly, and so these "impossible" elements are merely covered in other chapters. Further, "impossible" elements exist in the first-hand tales of believers in any religion; witness supposed "miracles" which still today are said to take place at the shrines of Christian saints.
Murray's works need to be re-read and looked at afresh. It's time for a more rational and unbiased re-assessment.
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