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The Discoverie of Witchcraft (Dover Occult) Paperback – June 1, 1989

3.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Occult
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Revised edition (June 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486260305
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486260303
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 0.7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Matthew S. Schweitzer on September 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is the reprint of the Montague Summers edition of Reginald Scot's "Discoverie of Witchcraft". Scot's treatise was first published in 1584, just at the height of the European witchcraze, and was one of the few published works that argued vehemently against the belief in witches and demons.
Scot argued that a belief in witches was fallacy and ran counter to the classical Christian view as given in the Canon Episcopi that stated that belief in witches and demonic magic was a delusion and that witches were not working in league with the Devil but were rather deluded persons who needed guidance in the ways of religion rather than death and torture. Scot goes on at length to discuss the illusion of supposed witchcraft and magic and that God alone, not Devils or witches, controls the elements and that he alone dictates the fate of men.
Scot, like his contemporary Johann Weyer, was met with hostility from the learned demonologists and theologians of the day. His work was condemned and ordered burned by King James I of England. Rather than being hailed as a rational and sensible humanist thinker for his valiant atttempt to stem the tide of the burnings of human beings, Scot was accused by some as promoting the heresy of Sadducism (a disbelief in spirits) while others dismissed his arguments and beliefs as being thinly veiled atheism and argued that witches were in fact real and dangerous and that the bonfires of witches must continue. The credulous and eccentric Montague Summers himself argues this viewpoint in his shamelful introduction. Summers even stoops so low as to essentialy accuse Scot and Weyer of Satanism!
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By A Customer on February 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
this excellent book got 4 stars from me only because it is a slightly incomplete edition (1930 Rodker ) which omits the final sections on spirits and "divells" as not being compatible with Scot`s outlook. the publishers would have done better to omit the introduction by Montague Summers, a nasty and spiteful piece of nonsense, only worth reading for the biographical info on Scot. Scot`s 16th century language is great to read, but it doesn`t get in the way of his message. Scot is a more modern man than a lot of "thinkers" alive today. His book should be read by anyone even remotely interested in witchcraft, occultism etc. A humane and rational man, he puts a lot of things in perspective. Reginald Scot was nobody`s fool.
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Format: Paperback
This is a classic expose dating back to 1584. Thanks to the author many named witches were spared from being burned at the stake! The author reveals the secrets of so-called witches and explains their supernatural powers as being nothing more than conjuring tricks. If you like magic, or reading about the history of magic then this book is a must have. -Diamond Jim Tyler
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I was thoroughly disappointed by this purchase. The scanning 'robot' they brag about using did a horrible job, and no one bothered to edit all the mistakes, it also has none of the diagrams. It more often than not produces the number 7 for the old f shaped double s of archaic printing and if it doesn't recognize a letter(a frequent occurrence) it produces gibberish, mostly numbers for letters. If you are not skilled at deciphering old printing and archaic english spellings(which were not standardized) you will be lost, I am pretty good at it but got very tired of all the mistakes. The fact that they charge $19.95 for this atrocity is appalling. Especially since the next day I found a beautiful old copy as a free download, my printer even copied the yellowed patina of the old paper, and it has all the diagrams and sigils, as well as scot's humorous asides in the margin. To paraphrase one "The publisher is a knave". Really only useful for starting fires, or like Jonathan Strange, feeding it to a donkey.
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Format: Paperback
Even though this book was made as an effort to disprove witchcraft it still holds genuine information on how magic was practiced in the 1500's. For the grimoire magician it is actually a small treasure. Even if that part only takes up a very small portion of the book it reveals such things as protective circles not seen anywhere else. It describes a very early version of the Goetia for example and suggest that the lion skin girdle could also be made in Harts skin. That is buck skin for those of you that did not know that. Might not sound all that exiting for most people but for a grimoire magician that is a real find.

It offers much in the way of those sort of things and also gives us an idea how people actually worked the material in England at that period of time. As a book to disprove witchcraft I do not consider it that good but to show on how magic was practiced it is a great resource.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is great for it's historical import and also for the kinds of magical effects that can be learned from it's pages. This is one of the oldest books on trickery that can be found anywhere, and in context is a very important book, indeed. Thank you, Dover, for reprinting the classics that we need to find.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The legal theory of witchcraft in Catholic Europe was airtight: It was a capital offense to be a witch, and it was also a capital offense to question whether witchcraft even existed. Had there been no Reformation, European Christians would still be burning witches, since the Roman church still believes in demonolatry.

Reginald Scot's "Discoverie of Witchcraft" is one of the few prose books from Elizabethan England that still enjoys an actual readership in the 21st century. It remains well worth reading.

Scot, a Kentish gentleman of wide reading, was able, in Anglican England, to attack witchcraft root and branch, and his attack is a mishmash of modern, evidence-based thinking, extreme religious bigotry, reporting from the field and medieval gullibility.

In Book XIII, Scot comes close to a statement of experimental investigation: "In this art of natural magicke, God almightie hath hidden manie secret mysteries; as wherein a man may learne the properties, qualities and knowledge of all nature. For it teaches to accomplish maters in such sort and opportunitie, as the common people thinketh the same to be miraculous."

This is not far from Arthur Clarke's observation that, to the uninitiated, any sufficiently advanced technology must seem miraculous.

Yet on the same page, Scot falls for the classical fable about the remora, the sucking fish that could halt the progress of the largest ship.

Scot was not a modern man. Throughout, he considers Holy Scripture the strongest authority, and his argument that so-called witches (and their devils) cannot perform miracles relies on nothing more than an assertion -- not countenanced in scripture -- that the age of miracles was shut down by God's power in apostolic times.
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