The Triumph of the Moon
A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft
By Ronald Hutton
This book is the reason we decided to cover modern books on The Stone as it is surely destined to become a classic. Ronald Hutton is a historian who has spent the latest part of his career studying pagan practices from the ancient druids up to the present day. This is not a book in support of witchcraft or paganism of any kind. As such it can be trusted to describe paganism, and witchcraft in particular, with a neutrality which gives its statements a certain authority. However, even though the book is not written in support of paganism, it is first and foremost an academic work, it does not criticise paganism either. Hutton is completely neutral on the issue of the efficacy of magic and in places lends support to the idea that pagan ceremony gives its practitioners a benefit that others do not have.
Reading The Triumph of The Moon gives the reader an incredible sense of detail. Hutton is nothing if not thorough. He starts with definitions of the language of paganism and proceeds to examine every aspect of the field from its roots in early ceremonial practices by the Masons and others. He then applies an academic magnifying glass to everything that follows. As such this is a history of ceremonial magic as well as what has become Wicca. He dispels many myths along the way, which shouldn't offend too much as he is complimentary about the reasons for myths and misunderstandings. Furthermore he gives credit for the work of people involved in the movement and is fair throughout.
If you want a definitive book that will tell you where modern magic as well as Wicca originate, then this is the book. The only problem might be that after reading this book you might find yourself constantly saying "Ah!, But that isn't the case. Hutton clearly points out ..." This book comes highly recommended.
Hutton, Ronald; The Triumph of The Moon; A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999, 486 pages including comprehensive references and index.
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