This is a book at the center of many debates, with some giving it historical significance as a one of the oldest references to the practice of magic and others denouncing its historical importance. It was published 1899, meaning it’s one of the earliest studies of historical witchcraft. There are other debates floating around, such as the writer was used to re-create old traditions of this ancient craft and others saying he was all on his own trying to make up things. I don’t know for sure and never looked into these claims myself. I do know the writer, Charles G. Leland, is considered the founder of the neo-paganism movement and the one who jump started the path called Wicca. No matter your viewpoint, this is not a book for those wishing for a softer look at witchcraft.

When you read, you learn that this is a history written by a folklorist and anthropologist on witchcraft. It is his studies, findings, and what he found on the path. I can easily see how this became such a staple for students of the path. Great source material must be why it’s so often cited in other books. It’s an easy to read in some places.

This is a recommended read to anyone to anyone interested in witchcraft or beginning down the path.


This review is a part of my 2020 yearlong self-challenge to read and review. I have reread some books for the purpose of reviewing them on my website whereas I have read others for the first time. Check out Book Reviews and Recommendations to find other book reviews, book recommendations, and more information about the books I’m reading, have read, or are sharing.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Do you agree with me? Do you disagree? Let’s have a conversation about it.


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