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
Read Dr Ruickbie on witchcraft and magic in Paranormal magazine.
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.
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This [Witchcraft Out of the Shadows] is so great! It was just what I was hoping for! You have done so much for all of us! Thanks, many times over! (Rose, 27 March 2005)
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WICA will reveal Witchcraft, Wicca, Paganism, Magic (Magick) and the Occult for you with expert research services. We undertake both in-house research as well as commissions. We also provide the opportunity for you to submit your own research or join a research project.
Witchology Research Projects
Here you will find a listing and brief description of our investigative studies into specific aspects of witchcraft, Wicca, paganism, Satanism and the occult. Dr Leo Ruickbie has been conducting academic level research into witchcraft since 1994. For most of that time effort has been directed towards doctoral research at King's College, London, in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies.
This listing includes externally commissioned as well as self-commissioned research and development projects. In addition, we have also been soliciting the input of our members and are pleased to include some of their research here.
‘“Either Must Die at the Hand of the Other’: Religious Reactions to Harry Potter’, in Jennifer Patricia Sims (ed), The Sociology of Harry Potter (Zossima, forthcoming)
‘“Mysteries Wrapped in Enigmas”: Trithemius, Occultism and Cryptography’, in Angela Catalina Ghionea (ed.), Science and the Occult (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, forthcoming)
‘Secret Chiefs: Spirit Communication in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn’, in Christopher M. Moreman (ed.), The Spiritualist Movement: Speaking with the Dead in America and Around the World (Praeger, forthcoming)
‘Dealing with the Devil: The Faustian Pact in Magical Culture’, Aries (forthcoming)
‘Reinventing the Renaissance Occult in Modern and Postmodern Culture Conference’, Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition, 20.2 (Vernal Equinox 2011)
‘Angels in Space’, Paranormal, 56 (February 2011), pp. 54-57 [Conceptualisations of unknown aerial phenomena, the role of rumour in modern media and the verification of sources]
‘How to Make a Horcrux’, Paranormal, 55 (January 2011), pp. 20-24 [Beliefs and practices concerning the idea of the external soul in folklore and magic]
‘Talk of the Devil, Part 2’, Paranormal, 52 (October 2010), 34-39 [Current beliefs about the Devil, including a firsthand account of the Black Mass]
‘Talk of the Devil, Part 1’, Paranormal, 51 (September 2010), 28-33 [History of the Devil]
‘Sympathy from the Devil’, Paranormal, 49 (July 2010), 56-59 [Explanations of magic]
‘Haiti’s “Devil Pact”’, Paranormal, 46 (April 2010), 10 [Current affairs]
‘Is it Time to Sell Your Soul?’, Pagan Dawn, 171 (Beltane 2009), 22-23 [Faustus]
‘Faustus: The Life and Times of a Renaissance Magician’, Watkins Review, 22 (Summer 2009), 13
‘Weber and the Witches: Sociological Theory and Modern Witchcraft’, Journal of Alternative Spiritualities and New Age Studies, 2 (February, 2006), 116-130
In-House Research and Development
Dealing with the Devil (2009)
Conference paper given at 'Reinventing the Renaissance Occult', Anglia Ruskin University, 14 November 2009, on the theme 'Dealing with the Devil: The Faustian Pact in Magical Culture'.
Witchcraft: The Naked Truth (2009)
Talk given at Miller's Academy, London, 22 April 2009, on the use of nudity in the representation of witchcraft, including by and about those claiming to be witches today.
Faustus: The Life and Times of a Renaissance Magician (2009)
After years of research Dr Leo Ruickbie's book Faustus: The Life and Times of a Renaissance Magician is published by The History Press.
Sorcellerie en France (2009)
Exhibition on witchcraft in France held for "Le Printemps des Légendes" festival, together with a lecture on Faustus in French and English, in the town of Monthermé (Ardennes). See Sorcellerie en France Exposition.
Hallowe'en (October 2008)
Dr Leo Ruickbie interviewed by the Press Association on the subject of Hallowe'en. Original transcript. News articles: 'When the boundary between worlds is at its weakest...', The Aberdeen Press and Journal, 30 October 2008. Further development of the Hallowe'en pages on Witchology with the addition of new information sheets. See the free downloads section or the Hallowe'en section.
Pagan Studies Project (September 2008)
This research project has resulted in the publication of two source collections of pagan history: Histories of the Barbarians and Beowulf. You can find out more about them in Witchcraft Books.
Sorcellerie en France (2008)
Two exhibitions on witchcraft in France held in the towns of Mouzon (Ardennes) and St Antoine (Gers). See Sorcellerie en France Exposition.
Turin Update (2008)
Werewolf Field Trip (2008)
Field research for a project in development. Details withheld.
Sorcellerie en France (2007-2008)
Development of French language version of Witchology.com in preparation for forthcoming witchcraft exhibition, scheduled for June 2008. Details to be announced. [Witchology.com en Francais]
Open Source Wicca: The Gardnerian Tradition (2007)
Based on the Open Source software movement, Open Source Wicca aims to make the 'source code' of Wicca accessible to everyone to further research, development and understanding. The first part, The Gardnerian Tradition, was launched on Samhain 2007. [Read online][Get the book]
Werewolf Field Trip (2007)
Field research for a project in development. Details withheld.
Walpurgisnacht Field Trip (2007)
An expedition to the Harz region of Germany to investigate contemporary traditions of Walpurgisnacht with a focus on the region around Thale and celebrations on the Hexentanzplatz. This was also a photo-documentary project and forms part of the Photo Archive.
Demonology: The Devils of Moissac (2006)
First in an occasional series exploring demonological motifs in art. Field trip to the Abbey Church of Saint Pierre in Moissac, France, led to the development of an online exhibition to present the material to the public. Click here to enter.
Walpurgisnacht Field Trip (2006)
An expedition to the Rhineland (Burg Satzvey) in Germany to explore contemporary celebrations of Walpurgisnacht. This was also a photo-documentary project and forms part of the Photo Archive.
Sociology of Witchcraft (2006)
Article for the Journal of Alternative Spirituality and New Age Studies published as: Leo Ruickbie, 'Weber and the Witches: Sociological Theory and Modern Witchcraft', JASANAS, vol. 2, February, 2006.
Black Magic in Turin, Italy (2006)
Research into black magic in Turin, Italy, conducted for John Torres of Gannett News Service, 10th February, 2006. Published as 'Italian plaza infamous as gate to the otherworld', Gannett News Service, 11th February, 2006. Or, click here for the original interview.
Witchology Website Project (2005)
Walpurgisnacht Field Trip (2005)
An expedition to the Harz region of Germany to investigate contemporary traditions of Walpurgisnacht. This was also a photo-documentary project and forms part of the Photo Archive.
Curse Survey (2004)
An investigation into the role and practice of cursing in modern forms of paganism. Questionnaire fielded 28th October to 20th November 2004.
Witchcraft Out of the Shadows Website Project (2004)
Development of a companion website for Leo Ruickbie's Witchcraft Out of the Shadows with accompanying graphical and pdf material. This was a stand-alone project and can be accessed at http://www.witchcraftoutoftheshadows.com.
An exploration of the ancient traditions of vampirism and the modern vampire subculture. Includes the short film The Fallen and an interview with Andrew Ian Dodge. This project produced a literary compendium of vampire lore and stories in the region of 1,000 pages, totalling some 500,000 words.
History of Witchcraft (2001-2004)
In 2001 Dr Leo Ruickbie began work on a history of witchcraft and the modern religion of Wicca. Over the next two years he conducted wide-ranging historical research and further sociological analyses to complement his in-depth PhD research work. The London publishing house Robert Hale offered a contract to publish in 2003 and the book was brought out in 2004 under the title Witchcraft Out of the Shadows.
"Witchcraft Voices" Ethnographic Series (on-going)
This is an on-going investigation into individual experiences of modern witchcraft. This project includes interviews, personal essays and opinion polls. [Click here for the Witchcraft Voices project page]
Witchcraft Traditions: The Sabbats of Witchcraft (on-going)
This project has been running since 2001 with the aim of exploring and understanding the origins, development and current practices of the principle celebratory rituals associated with modern forms of witchcraft.
We get a lot of requests from television and film companies to conduct research for them. We turn most of these down.
Eastern European Paganism (2003)
In 2003 we were commissioned by a38 Films/BBCi to conduct research on paganism in Eastern Europe.
Member Submitted Research
We encourage members and visitors to our site to submit their own research work. For people without access to other means of publication (print or digital) this is an important community service and one that we undertake at no charge.
You can submit your own research to Witchology in one of two ways:
If you want a specific piece of research into Witchcraft and related subjects undertaken, then our academically trained experts have the specialist knowledge you need. Contact us with your proposal for further details. Please note that only properly drafted proposals with full funding will be considered. A reading fee is applicable in advance on all submissions.