Night of the Witches: Folklore, Traditions and Recipes for Celebrating Walpurgis Night, by Linda Raedisch
Llewellyn Worldwide, 978-0-7387-2058-6, 238 pp., 2011
This is a book which is dedicated to one specific observance (May Eve). It is not intended for the active practitioner or even for the individual striving to learn about Witchcraft, rather it is aimed at the individual who has no background in folklore. It is set against a backdrop of European custom and beliefs, which makes sense, because of the dominant European derivation of modern witchcraft beliefs. Continue reading
Man-Made Monsters: A Field Guide to Golems, Patchwork Solders, Homunculi, and Other Created Creatures, by Dr Bob Curran, illustrated by Ian Daniels
New Page Books, 9781601631367, 184 pp. (incl. bibliography and index), 2011
Dr Bob Curran is a history teacher with several books to his name, all dealing with fantastic creatures: Vampires, Zombies, Werewolves, and Dark Fairies, among others. His latest is Man-Made Monsters, which explores possible origins for created creatures.
Curran begins with the quintessential man-made monster of modern times, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He looks at possible sources which may have inspired Shelley’s story, such as the experiments of Giovanni Aldini, Mr Pass, George Foster, Johann Konrad Dippel, and other stories of reanimation which she may have encountered. Continue reading
Witchcraft Medicine: Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plantsby, Claudia Muller-Ebeling, Christian Ratsch and Wolf-Dieter Storl
Inner Traditions, 0892819715, 240 pp. (incl. appendix, bibliography and index), 1998, 2003
What image comes to mind when you read the phrase “Witchcraft Medicine”? Do you see a crone bent over a cauldron, muttering under her breath? Do you imagine a dark peasant hovel in the Middle Ages? Me, too! The subtitle of this volume, translated from a German edition of 1998, helps to clear away some of the misconceptions before the cover is even opened however. “Healing Arts, Shamanic Practices, and Forbidden Plants” lets the reader know that the topic will range far beyond narrow preconceptions.
The book is profusely illustrated with old woodcuts, drawings and full-colour photographs. Quotations from numerous sources, ancient , medieval, and modern appear frequently in sidebars. There are charts listing various plants and their associations with planets, deities, and symbolism. Continue reading
The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind, by Claude Lecouteux, translated by Jon E Graham, afterward by Regis Boyer
Inner Traditions, 9781594773181, 273 pp. (incl. notes and index), 1996, 2009
A former professor of medieval literature and civilization at the Sorbonne, this is Claude Lecouteux’s second book to be translated into English, the first being Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages, published in 2003 also by Inner Traditions.
The Return of the Dead is a scholarly survey of pre-Christian beliefs, focusing in particular on legends of revenants in Germanic and Scandinavian folklore. Continue reading
Witchcraft in Yorkshire, by Patricia Crowther
Harvest Shadows, 9780974174013, 71 pp., 1973, 2008
The public perception of Witchcraft (or Wicca, if you prefer) has come a long way in 35 years. Looking through this short facsimile edition of Patricia Crowther’s 1973 work will make abundantly clear. Books written today tend to be too dedicated to explaining the history of the Craft, the contributions of various “names” in the community and forget about the witches were feared as often as admired and that there was (and is) a basis in local folklore. In the beginning, there was more emphasis on the more recent history and memories.
Ms. Crowther, one of Gerald Gardner’s priestesses, has gathered Continue reading