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The only comprehensive, single-volume survey of magic available, this compelling book traces the history of magic, witchcraft, and superstitious practices such as popular spells or charms from antiquity to the present day. Focusing especially on Europe in the medieval and early modern eras, Michael Bailey also explores the ancient Near East, classical Greece and Rome, and the spread of magical systems_particularly modern witchcraft or Wicca_from Europe to the United States. He examines how magic and superstition have been defined in various historical eras and how these constructions have changed over time. He considers the ways in which specific categories of magic have been condemned, and how those identified as magicians or witches have been persecuted and prosecuted in various societies. Although conceptions of magic have changed over time, the author shows how magic has almost always served as a boundary marker separating socially acceptable actions from illicit ones, and more generally the known and understood from the unknown and occult.
Magic, witchcraft, and superstition have inspired writers and readers for centuries. Much of the literature on these phenomena has been sensational or biased, but a growing body of quality scholarly work has quietly accumulated over the past decades. Bailey (history, Iowa State Univ., Ames; Historical Dictionary of Witchcraft) provides a breathtaking yet meticulous synthesis of scholarship covering two millennia, from antiquity to the present day. Though its focus is Europe, the book embraces the United States, classical Greece and Rome, and the Near East as well. It concentrates especially on how the concepts, beliefs, and practices of magic and witchcraft-and their practitioners-have transformed one another over this vast period. This work, which supersedes all previous works on the topic, includes few endnotes in the interest of readability, but the bibliography for each section will be of some assistance to those wishing to read further on particular topics. Recommended for all public and academic collections.
Chapter 1 Introduction: Roots in the Ancient World Chapter 2 The Rise of Christianity and Early Medieval Europe to the Year 1000 Chapter 3 Varieties of Magic in the High and Late Middle Ages, 1000-1500 Chapter 4 The Medieval Condemnation of Magic, 1000-1500 Chapter 5 Witchcraft and Witch-Hunting in the Early Modern Period, 1500-1800 Chapter 6 From Renaissance to Enlightenment, 1450-1800 Chapter 7 Magic in the Modern West from 1800