Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where There's Smoke: Witchcraft, Paganism, Christianity, and the Burning Times

I am going to try an experiment: using this blog to write a book. The central idea of this book is to expand upon what Carlo Ginzburg has called "the core of truth" in Margaret Murray's thesis.

This core of truth is simply stated: (1) the targets of the Burning Times were Pagans, and they were targeted as Pagans, and (2) the perpetrators of the Burning Times were Christians, and they acted as Christians.

The working title is Where's There's Smoke, with the subtitle: Witchcraft, Paganism, Christianity, and the Burning Times. Here is a very broad outline of what I have in mind:

Introduction:
Where There's Smoke, There's Fire

Part One:
The Prehistory of the Burning Times

Paganism B.C. (Before Christianization)
Christianity B.C. (Before Constantine)
Paganism versus Christianity (4th - 8th Centuries)
European Christendom: The Birth of a Persecuting Society
The Incomplete Christianization of Europe
The Renaissance: Prelude to the Firestorm

Part Two
A Narrative History of the Burning Times, 1500-1700

Part Three
Points of Contention: Definitions & Other Moving Targets
Witches, Hexen, Streghe, Sorcières, Brujas, etc.
Pagans, Heathens, Hellenes, Infidels, Kafirs, Unbelievers, etc.
Christians, Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, Heretics, etc.
What Constitutes a "Witch Hunt"?
Inquisitors and Witch Hunters
The Burning Times By The Numbers
Jacob Grimm on Witches as Priestesses
Charles Godfrey Leland and "The Old Religion"
Margaret Murray and "The Society of Witches That Never Was"
Gerald Gardner: "There Have Been Witches In All Ages"
Contemporary scholarship that supports of the general notion of The Old Religion: An Annotated Bibliography

Conclusion:
Honoring Our Pagan Ancestors

4 comments:

Vivienne Moss said...

Sounds wonderful and fascinating. Love the subject matter. Can't wait to read more.

Ben Whitmore said...

I have thought for a long time that you should consider writing a book. Your writing seems both effortless and engaging, and you have a knowledge of the literature that fills me with envy! Bravo!

KatyDid said...

I would read that book.

Your page has been really getting me interested in how Christianity has taken what came before and either piggybacked on it or else taken its imagery and turned it into the enemy.

It's pretty amazing once you start looking for it.

Another interesting topic not included in your outline is the syncretism of Christianity and traditional religions in the Caribbean in vodou and Santeria (former slave cultures essentially using Christian imagery as a front for their old Yoruba gods) and reaction that has gotten when those folks try to bring it over here.

Anyway, thanks for what you do here - even when I throw critiques of it at you!

Celestial Elf said...

Im going to look for your book now :)
I thought you might like my machinima animation about The Wise Woman, The Witch
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5luL_gNy-zE
Bright Blessings ~