Ronald Hutton

The Witch

This “magisterial account” explores the fear of witchcraft across the globe from the ancient world to the notorious witch trials of early modern Europe (The Guardian, UK).
The witch came to prominence—and often a painful death—in early modern Europe, yet her origins are much more geographically diverse and historically deep. In The Witch, historian Ronald Hutton sets the European witch trials in the widest and deepest possible perspective and traces the major historiographical developments of witchcraft.
Hutton, a renowned expert on ancient, medieval, and modern paganism and witchcraft beliefs, combines Anglo-American and continental scholarly approaches to examine attitudes on witchcraft and the treatment of suspected witches across the world, including in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Australia, and the Americas, and from ancient pagan times to current interpretations. His fresh anthropological and ethnographical approach focuses on cultural inheritance and change while considering shamanism, folk religion, the range of witch trials, and how the fear of witchcraft might be eradicated.
“[A] panoptic, penetrating book.”—Malcolm Gaskill, London Review of Books
708 printed pages
Original publication
Publication year
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  • Алиса Калита Алиса Калитаhas quoted2 years ago
    tells how a man from the major Russian city of Novgorod went among the Votyaks. He paid to have his fortune told by a tribal magician, who called spirits to himself to provide the answers, which came to him while lying in a trance inside his dwelling.33
  • Алиса Калита Алиса Калитаhas quoted2 years ago
    By contrast, many of the peoples in sub-Arctic and Arctic North America who possessed shamans of the Siberian sort also feared and hunted witches; and there the shamans used their powers to detect and unmask alleged practitioners of witchcraft in the manner of service magicians across the world, including those in Europe. This is true around the north of the New World from the Tlingit of Alaska to the Eskimo of Greenland.27
  • Алиса Калита Алиса Калитаhas quoted2 years ago
    What can be emphasized is that whereas a belief in the witch figure, while widespread globally, made up a patchwork in most regions, peoples who feared witches fervently being interspersed with those who did not regard them as a serious problem or did not believe in them at all, the North Asian and North American shamanic province forms a compact mass covering Siberia and the Canadian Arctic and sub-Arctic.

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