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The history and sociology of witchcraft has tended to concentrate on the late Medieval and Early Modern period, the so-called Witch-Craze—the age of burnings, hangings, trials and torture. It is an important period, but this over-emphasis has produced a distorted picture of the phenomenon of witchcraft.
With Witchcraft Out of the Shadows we find the history of witchcraft re-analysed and re-interpreted, recovering long ignored material from Ancient Greece and Northern Europe, while at the same time providing a broader historical context for Dr Ruickbie's my PhD research.
Dr Ruickbie uses the imagery of shadows to structure the book itself. He begins with the 'Age of Shadows', the ancient period of which little is often illuminated and those more modern epochs of greater darkness, the darkness of the human heart. He then moves into 'Born of Shadows', the section in which he charts the emergence and development of new interpretations of witchcraft that eventually lead to what has come to be known as Wicca. Finally, he uses the title 'Empire of Shadows' to cover the contemporary situation and his analyses of modern witchcraft's demographics, beliefs and practices.
The book was published by Robert Hale who have a long history for bringing out classic books on witchcraft. For example, they have published many of Janet and Stewart Farrar's books, most of which are still Amazon best-sellers.
Since publication the book has a received a number of positive reviews from readers, experts and witches:
"Read the book, buy the book you will enjoy it." - David Barker, Somerset Pagans: The Journal of the Burnham and Highbridge Pagan Moot, January 2007, p. 4.
"A fascinating study, and groundbreaking in its sociological analysis..." - Merry Meet. Independent Journal of Folklore and Paganism, Issue 22, Autumn 2005.
"This book is a sound investment and recommended reading for any witch who has not yet thought to examine the historical and sociological effects of this path." - A. Murphy-Hiscock, WynterGreene, Beltane (May) 2005.
"Witchcraft out of the Shadows is an engaging book which deserves to be the benchmark for all future analyses of the Craft." - Alan Richardson, occult author, 2005.