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The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft Paperback – May 31, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
This spirited, amusing and immensely informative history of paganism in 19th- and 20th-century Britain centers on Wicca, the system of witchcraft Gerald B. Gardner introduced to a startled public in the 1950s. The book's first half takes the reader on a breakneck tour of Victorian and Edwardian culture, demonstrating that Wiccan belief and practice owe much to the scholars, novelists and poets who resurrected Pan and the Goddess, crafting romantic visions of a pre-Christian past. The second half proceeds at a more leisurely pace, detailing the development of British witchcraft over the past 50 years among Gardner's followers, critics and rivals. In this meticulously researched book, Hutton modestly demolishes myths perpetuated by both pagans and their hostile critics and maintains an attitude that is at once skeptical and ultimately sympathetic. He displays astounding breadth, with literary references ranging from Keats to Mary Daly, and peppers his work with insightful portraits of characters such as Madam Blavatsky, Aleister Crowley, D.H. Lawrence, Dion Fortune, Alex Sanders, Starhawk and the obscure 19th-century wonder-worker and wart-healer known as Cunning Murrell. In a field generally characterized by polemical or apologetic historiography, Hutton's exceptional work is by far the most scholarly, comprehensive and judicious analysis of the subject yet published. It will remain the standard for many years to come. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"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
Top Customer Reviews
Hutton is something of a bête noire for many Wiccans and other Neopagans after his iconoclastic PAGAN RELIGIONS OF THE ANCIENT BRITISH ISLES, particularly for his corrosive attacks on Robert Graves and THE WHITE GODDESS (however deserved they may have been). Hutton's work is, nevertheless, grounded in substantial research (as befits a widely-published historian) and a generally non-judgmental tone. Hutton continues his no-stone-unturned approach in this new book, but departs from simple history to offer rationales for the viability of Neopaganism as a religious path, even given its apparent twentieth-century origins.
For many Neopagans outside of traditionalist Wicca, the book's focus on Neopagan Witchcraft (and in particular on Gerald Gardner and Alex Sanders) may render its iconoclasm old news. Hutton's research only buttresses the deconstruction of Wicca begun in the '70s. Hutton's gift, though, is to go beyond the first order deconstruction and find unexpected bits of information amidst an impressive array of personal papers and museum holdings. For example, most informed readers will already be aware that "Old" Dorothy Clutterbuck, Gardner's supposed initiatrix, was shown to be a real person, after years of argument to the contrary.Read more ›
Hutton really starts with the eighteenth century, with Masonry, "cunning men", and other magic-workers of various kinds. He discusses these folks as sources for the later witchcraft revival, and gives his sources scrupulously. He then moves on to the nineteenth-century "occult revival", which is only rather sketchily handled, and to Gardner and the whole complex from which he arose.
Next, Hutton discusses Gardner in considerable detail, considering the whole "Dorothy Clutterbuck" problem and the whole complex of the first Wiccan covens. It seems not unlikely that this discussion will infuriate those who don't want to think of Gardner as a spiritual ancestor for their modern practices. At the same time, it's likely to tick off those would-be "debunkers" who want a lurid account of Gardner the evil sex-maniac. Overall, I found that Gardner came off rather sympathetically, which surprised me.
For me, the best thing about the book is the discussion of the extension of Wicca past Gardner's own influence. For example, I tend to associate the rise of Neopaganism with liberal politics, given the strong affiliations with the rise of feminism, ecological activism, and a kind of back-to-the-earth approach to collapsing the modern military-industrial dominance of (especially) American economics and politics.Read more ›
If you can't see the pattern here, his interest seems to have been trying to back-track elements of modern pagan tradition and mythology. It should be noted that at no time does he ever stray from his essential (and frequently stated) premise - that modern paganism is a perfectly valid modern religious format.
It is from this foundation that he finally takes the leap in his Triumph of the Moon, wherein he examines the history of modern paganism and places it into its place in a larger counter-cultural tradition stretching back at least to the Romantic period (if you've seen his article on the Great Neolithic Goddess Cult that appeared in Antiquity several years ago, you may have some idea of where the path this has taken).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Pagan history is a big part of Pagan culture. I highly recommend this book to everyone who walks a Pagan path.Published 1 month ago by Etta Scalapino
This book was a game changer for me. I had been an initiated Wiccan for many years when I first read it. Read morePublished 6 months ago by John B
Well, I wrote quite a long winded and spoiler-ish review here: [...]
So in lieu of copy-pasting I'll just say I loved this book - not as much as Stations of the Sun... Read more
Hard to read sometimes because it feels like a textbook... but there is a wealth of information in here. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
An intellectual analysis of the only true religion out of Europe.Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
A delightful history of modern paganism, but older readers, and those prone to eye strain should be aware the type font is pretty small.Published 16 months ago by A Reader
While reading through this book, I was assured that I'd be giving it 5 stars on Amazon, but by the time I finished reading the last page I changed my mind. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Austin