Witchology, the history of Wicca & Witchcraft
by Dr Leo Ruickbie
Study and learn the history of Witchcraft, Wicca, Paganism, Magic and the Occult with our courses and resources
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What is Witchcraft?
That's what this website is here to find out. Witchology.com is the website of WICA - the Witchcraft Information Centre and Archive - founded in 1999 by Dr Leo Ruickbie as a research and education provider specialising in the areas of Witchcraft, Wicca, Paganism, Magic (Magick) and the Occult. We have been online continuously since 2000.
WICA Recommended by:
You'll get quite an education. (WorthFinding.com, 2002)
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I've had trouble finding Wiccan themed content for my blog, so I was ecstatic when I found witchology.com giving away free wiccan content. (Nancy Rowina, 12 September 2005)
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History of Witchcraft Rewritten
If you knew that there was one book that would change the history of witchcraft would you want to read it? Rated Five Stars on Amazon. Recommended by author Alan Richardson and Marty Dodge of Blogcritics.com.
The Writing of Witchcraft Out of the Shadows
Reasons for writing Witchcraft Out of the Shadows
My PhD work at King's College London took modern witchcraft as a test case for analysing Max Weber's sociological theory of disenchantment and developing a counter theory of re-enchantment. My findings on the nature of magic, mystical experience, ritual activity, conceptualisation of deity and the demographics of those involved refuted many of the existing stereotypes and provided new insights into scientifically uncharted areas. It was these important findings that I wanted to take from the narrow academic world to a wider audience, to share what I had found.
But this was only part of the story. The history and sociology of witchcraft has tended to concentrate on the late Medieval and Early Modern period, the so-called Witch-Crazethe age of burnings, hangings, trials and torture. It is an important period, but this over-emphasis has produced a distorted picture of the phenomenon of witchcraft.
With Witchcraft Out of the Shadows I have re-analysed and re-interpreted the history of witchcraft, recovering long ignored material from Ancient Greece and Northern Europe, and placing my PhD work in a broader historical context.
So it was with a sense of discovery, of finding a new place in that 'other country' of history, that I started writing the book and with the enthusiasm of an explorer back from exotic lands that I want now to tell what I have found.
I began writing the book in 2001 with a clear purpose: I wanted to re-write the history of witchcraft. I wanted to find a beginning point, a point at which one could say 'here is the origin of witchcraft'. What I found was that witchcraft has many beginnings and, in a sense, none at all. Even so, I traced the emergent points of many of our ideas about witchcraft, and showed how these ideas and images have shaped the history and present understanding of witchcraft.
Coming Out of the Shadows
At first I just called it Out of the Shadows, but later I saw the need to clearly identify 'witchcraft' as that which was 'out of the shadows'. So the book became Witchcraft Out of the Shadows. The idea of 'shadows' was an important one to me. On the one hand, it referred to that other 'book of shadows' that has defined the practice of Wicca. On the other, it pointed to the 'shadows' that have lain over witchcraft's dark past and still cling to its often misunderstood present. So, 'out of the shadows' can be seen as a poetic term for my process of in-depth investigation.
The Imagery of Shadows
I used the imagery of shadows to structure the book itself. I began with what I called the 'Age of Shadows', the ancient period of which little is often illuminated and those more modern epochs of greater darkness, the darkness of the human heart. I then moved into 'Born of Shadows', the section in which I chart the emergence and development of new interpretations of witchcraft that eventually lead to what has come to be known as Wicca. Finally, I used the title 'Empire of Shadows' to cover the contemporary situation and my analyses of modern witchcraft's demographics, beliefs and practices. I intentionally wanted a suggestive and resonant mytho-poeic structural element to this book, whilst at the same time following a strict chronological order.
The Witchcraft Publishers
I approached the publishers Robert Hale because of their long reputation for bringing out classic books on witchcraft. For example, they have published many of Janet and Stewart Farrar's books, most of which are still Amazon best-sellers. Robert Hale quickly seized upon Witchcraft Out of the Shadows and together we have worked on producing the final version.
The Art of Shadow Play
Robert Hale were keen to include my own photography and artwork in the book, much of which I specially produced for Witchcraft Out of the Shadows. In addition, I also supplied some contemporary illustrations for the medieval and early modern sections from my collection. After much discussion we decided upon eighteen illustrations for the book. I feel that this contributes so much more to the book. As well as new textual material, I have also been able to bring out new visual material. You will not have seen my photography and artwork before and I have no plans to licence it to anyone else.
Find Out More
Get Witchcraft Out of the Shadows
Hardback 2004 1st Edition (sold out)
Paperback 2011 2nd Edition
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