The God Of The Witches by Margaret A. Murray


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Sampson Low, Marston & co, 1933. First edition, first printing. Illustrated with 16 black & white photographic plates. Near fine copy of a historical infamous work, rare in any condition. Here an extremely scarce example, seen with a near-immaculate dust jacket. A few minor markings to the cover; small black smudges, one small tear seen in the top right corner. Jacket in removeable protective sleeve. Colours remain bright without fade. Internally the pages are clean and bright with no foxing or inscriptions. 

Margaret A. Murray's highly contested and controversial 'witch-cult hypothesis'. Murray was Egyptologist, archaeologist, anthropologist, historian, and folklorist. She was the first woman to be appointed as a lecturer in archaeology in the United Kingdom,  and worked at University College London from 1898 to 1935.  

'This is her second work that provides a more popular exposition of her 'witch-cult hypothesis', she writes;

"witchcraft was, demonstrably, a survival of an old, honourable and obstinate religion, dating back to prehistoric times, persecuted relentlessly by the Christian Church, wherever it held its old ground and wrongfully misrepresented by its ecclesiastical opponents as a diabolic perversion".

Specifically, she argues that the witch trials of Early Modern Christendom were an attempt to extinguish a surviving pre-Christian, pagan religion devoted to a Horned God; an idea which became significantly influential in the emergence of Wicca movement in the mid 20th century.

The publishing history of the work is somewhat confused, with certain library listings suggesting a first printing in 1931 by Faber. This, however, appears to be the result of the repetition of a cataloguing error, originating with the British Library.

'The extreme negative and positive reactions to The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, as well as its legacy in religion and literature, register as responses to its fantastical form and content and especially to its implication of an alternate, woman-centred history of Western religion. At least one contemporary review turns Murray's suggestion of continuity between the premodern witches and contemporary women back on her in an ad hominem attack.' - Mimi Winick, 2015.

- Chapters; The Horned God; The Worshippers; The Priesthood; The Rites; Religious and Magical Ceremonies; The Divine Victim.

Category Witchcraft