Journal or Book Title
Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft
The continuation, and continued development, of magical beliefs and various forms of witchcraft and countermagic in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries has become an increasingly important topic for scholars. Ever since the resurgence of European witchcraft studies in the 1970s with, among other landmark publication, Keith Thomas’s Religion and the Decline of Magic, tremendous attention has focused on the (mainly) sixteenth- and seventeenth-century witch hunts. As Thomas’s title indicates, the need to explain the decline of magical beliefs and the transformation of Europe from a witch-hunting society into a putatively “disenchanted” one was always part of this scholarly project. Yet the important question of decline (and continuation) received significantly less attention than the horrors of the hunts themselves. For some time it seemed adequate to assume that belief in witches receded as governments decriminalized the act of witchcraft. We now know that picture is highly inaccurate. Prosecution of witches in most regions of Europe declined almost to nothing decades before law codes were changed to eliminate witchcraft as a crime, and belief in witchcraft and other “popular” magical practices continued among large segments of Europe’s population for centuries afterward.
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University of Pennsylvania Press
Bailey, Michael D., "Beyond the Witch Trials: Witchcraft and Magic in Enlightenment Europe, and: Witchcraft Continued: Popular Magic in Modern Europe (review)" (2009). History Publications. 52.