- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; New Ed edition (May 31, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0192854496
- ISBN-13: 978-0192854490
- Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1 x 5.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 98 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #291,845 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft Paperback – May 31, 2001
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"An excellent reference edition...I highly recommend it."--Weekly Alibi
"Hutton uses his historical skills to tease apart some of the themes in this popular rural romanticism, and to locate their purely modern origin."--Times Literary Supplement, UK
"Hutton's book is excellent..."--Times Literary Supplement
"Hutton has synthesized a huge body of sources, and woven together a fascinating narrative with supreme skill. The reader is sure to be gripped by the wonderful cast of characters that he assembles...Hutton shows us that paganism is a matter of interest not only for the classicist and archeologist, but for the modern historian as well. In doing so his Triumph of the Moon proves to be a triumph of cultural history."--Owen Davies, History Today (UK, Vol. 50 No. 3)
About the Author
Ronald Hutton is Professor of History at the University of Bristol. He is the author of seven other books, including The Stations of the Sun, which The Times Literary Supplement called "a tour de force from one of the liveliest and most wide-ranging English historians." He lives in the United Kingdom.
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The author comes across as very knowledgeable and well studied, which lends a lot to credibility. I don't think this is something that a newer Pagan should hand to their non-Pagan friends and family because the academic depth is a little too overwhelming for beginners. However, if you are doing research for a paper or are looking for a credible source of our history, this is a really great product.
There are many intriguing mini-biographies and the author is generally sympathetic to Paganism and Pagans in general...occasionally too sympathetic to be wholly objective.
Still, a good primer and highly recommended.
4 out of 5 stars
Hutton clearly realizes that his subject is a matter of belief and faith to Wicca's adherents, and therefore his careful conclusions are largely relative and theoretical. His writing style is plain-spoken and academic, his approach studiously matter-of-fact throughout.
Since he is a historian and not a psychologist, Hutton steers away from any investigation of the archetypal witch image as a apparent constant of the human psyche and condition, focusing instead on whatever traceable elements of a genuine `witch tradition' and survival existed and exist in fact.
Considering that witches appear both everywhere and nowhere throughout history, Hutton pulls off a remarkable piece of speculative detective work. He remains uncommonly fair and open-minded throughout, considering all claims equally and going so far as to express that he does not deny the possibility that the gods and goddesses of Wicca--including Pan--exist objectively. If this is a simple placating measure, Hutton handles it with aplomb.
The author states that the most important argument of his book is that Wicca is the result of a combination of cultural forces and undertones that have developed in England since 1800, including the Murray thesis as a erroneous theory and modern myth rather than as a hypothesis having any basis in fact.
But it's not difficult to believe--by any means--that some remnant of pre-Christian religions existed in dynamic form during the Middle Ages, continued to be practiced and came to be identified as witchcraft by the dominant Christian establishment.
This proposed pagan religion--presumably involving some form of 'nature worship'--may have not been a focused, formalized religion in fact, but something more akin to Ireland's 'fairy faith'--a powerful belief system that took a wide variety of forms in diverse parts of Europe.
Since veneration of different aspects of nature as a means of insuring a bountiful harvest seems to be a fairly common and probably spontaneous phenomena among man when in the early stages of development, why should some trace of this not have continued into the Middle Ages among agrarian people?
Murray may have been all wrong in her both carefully and carelessly accrued specifics, but at least partially correct generally.
Though Carlo Ginzburg was apparently unclear about how his discovery of the "benandanti" in the Fruili region linked, if at all, to Murray's thesis, the example Hutton gives of the century-old witch community on the Welsh island of Mon is fairly impressive, especially since he is able to identify at least three other 'pagan witch traditions' older than and apparently independent of Gardnerian Wicca.
Among those who helped produce 'the pool of ideas and impulses' which led or may have contributed to the formation of Wicca are key figures James Frazer, James Michelet, Margaret Murray, Charles Godfrey Leland, Samuel Liddell Mathers, Aleister Crowley, Gerald Gardner, and Dion Fortune, each of whose work Hutton carefully considers.
Hutton clearly loves his subject; the reader senses that no one would secretly enjoy discovering solid proof of a pagan survival of this kind more than he.
His sympathy, however, never compromises his rigorous scholarly standards. This is a cautious, well-considered and erudite book that should educate most and offend few.