Ronald Hutton

Dec 23, 2020

The Triumph of the Moon

A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft

Oxford University Press 2019

Today we speak to Ronald Hutton, Professor of History at the University of Bristol, in the United Kingdom about the twentieth anniversary, and concomitant reissue, of the extremely important The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft (Oxford UP, 2019). The author of over a dozen books and myriad articles, Professor Hutton’s work is both prodigious and percipient. We chat about the importance of the book and the reason for its reissue.

Hutton brings witchcraft out of the shadows. The Triumph of the Moon is the first full-scale study of the only religion England has ever given the world--modern pagan witchcraft, otherwise known as wicca. Meticulously researched, it provides a thorough account of an ancient religion that has spread from English shores across four continents.

For centuries, pagan witchcraft has been linked with chilling images of blood rituals, ghostlike druids, and even human sacrifices. But while Robert Hutton explores this dark side of witchery, he stresses the positive, reminding us that devotion to art, the natural world, femininity, and the classical deities are also central to the practice of wicca. Indeed, the author shows how leading figures in English literature--W.B. Yeats, D.H. Lawrence, and Robert Graves, just to name a few--celebrated these positive aspects of the religion in their work, thereby softening the public perception of witchcraft in Victorian England. From cunning village folk to freemasons and from high magic to the black arts, Hutton chronicles the fascinating process by which actual wiccan practices evolved into what is now a viable modern religion. He also presents compelling biographies of wicca's principal figures, such as Gerald Gardner, who was inducted into a witch coven at the age of 53, and recorded many clandestine rituals and beliefs.
Ronald Hutton is known for his colorful, provocative, and always thoroughly researched studies on original subjects. This work is no exception. It will appeal to anyone interested in witchcraft, paganism and alternative religions.

Jana Byars is the Academic Director of Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender.

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