The Story Behind …

Every book has a story behind the story of how it came to be written. It may be about a life-long passion, a personal journey, the need to share an experience or knowledge. It may have been fermenting in the brain for years, or sprung fully formed from a blinding epiphany.  Whether it be fact or fiction, sometimes the story behind the story is almost as important as the published book itself …

Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival

 The idea for Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival: A magical anthropology was originally sparked off by that old in-joke of the late Michael Howard’s concerning the ‘Celtic Potato Test’ in which he highlighted the number of pagan publications that repeated the myth that the one of the Celts’ sacred plants they brought to Britain was the potato!  Over the years it became evident that these historical inaccuracies were permeating contemporary pagan publishing and perpetuating mis-information for the generations to come.

Witchcraft has a fascinating history but no-one can trace their antecedents back to the Stone Age, and at best what we have now is a watered-down version of primitive shamanism that is nevertheless often easily recognisable from ancient European cave paintings.  Witchcraft and shamanism probably ran in tandem with the developing culture of these islands and would have reflected (but not controlled) the beliefs of the indigenous population.  As anthropologist Francis Pryor explained in Britain BC:

It is my contention that the influences of British pre-Roman cultures are still of fundamental importance to modern British society … The six millennia of insular development gave British culture a unique identity and strength that was able to survive the tribulations posed by the Roman Conquest, and the folk movements of the post-Roman Migration Period, culminating in the Danish raids, the Danelaw and of course the Norman Conquest of 1066.

And it was his subsequent comment that according to his research, all the Romans can take credit for was wiping out a 10,000-year old island culture quite unlike any other in the ancient world, which gave me food for thought.  So … just as not all members of today’s Church are members of the priesthood, not all of the indigenous peoples were witches; and just because something is ancient doesn’t mean to say that it was viewed as ‘sacred’.  And burial sites were not necessarily places of worship. Yes, there are many tenuous strands that reach back into the mists of time but more often than not if we give a good tug, the threads come away in our hand.

Magical ability itself is a very tenuous skill that needs to link to its own original roots to work successfully; we need to be able to tease the strands from the tangled skein of history to trace the power back to its source.  So began a fascinating journey back into our pagan past to discover where the various different threads became woven into the magical chain.  Yes, it took a long time to write but in the process it was possible to correct many of the misconceptions, dis-information and downright deliberate inaccuracies and restore some sort of form of magical chronology to the beliefs of our Craft forebears.

Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival is published by Moon Books as part of the Traditional Witchcraft series.   For more information go to

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