Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cunning-Folk: Popular Magic in English History” as Want to Read:
Cunning-Folk: Popular Magic in English History
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Cunning-Folk: Popular Magic in English History

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  137 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
Local practitioners of magic, providing small-scale but valued services to the community, cunning-folk were far more representative of magical practice than the arcane delvings of astrologers and necromancers. Mostly unsensational in their approach, cunning-folk helped people with everyday problems: how to find lost objects; how to escape from bad luck or a suspected spell ...more
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published May 16th 2003 by Hambledon & London
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cunning-Folk, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Cunning-Folk

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Phil
Sep 09, 2009 Phil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: occult-history
Owen Davies’ Cunning-Folk: Popular Magic in English History (Hambledon and London, 2003) shows how cunning folk (known under a variety of labels) were a part of English culture (both rural and urban) up to the early twentieth century. He estimates for example, that by the nineteenth century, there were several thousand plying their trade across the country. Davies reveals that whilst prosectution was certainly an occupational hazard for them, in fact only a very small percentage of cunning folk ...more
Steve Cran
Aug 24, 2015 Steve Cran rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THey used to be numerous in pre victorian Britain, but now they are not even a handful if they are around at all. Owen Davies has written several well informed books on Witchcraft and Grimoires , several of which I have reviewed. This is also the only other book that I am aware of that deals with the cunning folk on a scholarly level that is available to the modern day reader. Emma Wilby  has a another one out which I have reviewed. The two authors cover the same subject but I would say from dif ...more
Kari
Jul 10, 2011 Kari rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This was a really interesting book. Exploring a subject never before discussed in great detail, Davies covers many of the questions arising from the subject of cunning folk such as what tasks they performed, where they got their information and how they were perceived and dealt with by the public, church and government. The only slight downfall of the book is that in many ways it reads more like an extended essay. Davies explains what he will look at each time before doing so and this interrupts ...more
Charlie
Jan 26, 2012 Charlie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Owen Davies' book 'Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History' had been on my Christmas wish-list as one of those books that I really wanted to read and I wasn't disappointed to find it in my stocking this year.

Davies admirably debunks the fanciful notion amongst many self-styled Wiccan and New Age Pagans that they are somehow the legatees of an unbroken wise-woman / cunning-folk tradition of healers and white witches. Davies uses primary and secondary sources to identify cunning folk as ess
...more
Deep~Glade
Feb 08, 2013 Deep~Glade rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth reading if you want to know the real history of witches and cunning folk and not new age fluffy bunny made up stuff.
Gaz
Apr 20, 2016 Gaz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historians and Magical Practitioners
Shelves: history
Popular Magic by Owen Davies is an academic look at a specific type of magical practitioner called cunning-folk. Focusing on two periods – Early Modern and Modern – the book elucidates primarily upon social context, allowing the reader to appreciate the umbilical connection between cunning-folk and the popular belief in witchcraft.

While there were other magical practitioners, cunning-folk can be defined by the breadth of services they offered, and in particular by their Witch-Doctoring service.
...more
Patick Kyteler
Jul 28, 2015 Patick Kyteler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
EYE OPENING!

There are a lot of misconceptions about the Cunning Folk of Great Britain in the modern neo-pagan consciousness. We like to romanticize their existence, thinking of them as eccentric country witches living in spooky yet pretty cottages on the outskirts of charming villages next to mysterious dark forests where they gathered their herbs and worked benevolent magic for an appreciative community.

Wrong! Owen Davies does an excellent job dispelling this fantasy by revealing the facts bac
...more
Louise Culmer
Jan 11, 2014 Louise Culmer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
A very interesting and entertaining book about the history of English 'cunning men' and 'wise women', people who claimed to be able to detect bewitchment, and counteract its baneful effects, and also to be able to find lost objects, make people fall in love, heal sick animals and people etc. Their main period of importance was when belief in witchcraft was strongest - they could tell their clients who had bewitched them, and break the spell that had been laid on them. As belief in witchcraft dec ...more
Lauren
Really fascinating overall. While I can't fault Owen Davies' thoroughness, I do think the book could have been formatted a little better so that reading all this information didn't feel so much of a slog after a while. Not that the text is boring or dense, just that it was difficult to hold my attention at times because it was just all text with no breaks until you hit the end of the chapter. Give me some sub-headings, anything! Still, an interesting read, and one I can safely recommend if you'r ...more
Holley
May 24, 2014 Holley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good overview of popular magic in England. For a more advanced and comprehensive work, there is no better than Keith Thomas' Religion and the Decline of Magic, but for a refresher(or someone new to the subject)of the role of cunning-folk in English society, as well as the differences between cunning-folk and witches, this one is solid.

Of particular interest is a pretty thorough examination of the services provided by cunning-folk, and a list of books, etc. that were often found in their
...more
Trunatrschild
Oct 07, 2008 Trunatrschild rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Traditional Witch
A book on Cunningfolk in Early Modern Era of England. It's all about them, their warts, their greeds, their pluses their minuses... basically just the facts ma'am. An Essential book on Traditional Cunningfolk.
Ian
Jan 04, 2013 Ian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book should be on everyone's bookshelf. There is academic research presented in a easily understood manner.
Lindsey
Lindsey rated it it was amazing
Dec 08, 2015
Kaleb Warren
Kaleb Warren rated it it was amazing
Dec 22, 2016
Edward Butler
Edward Butler rated it it was amazing
Nov 10, 2008
Drew
Drew rated it really liked it
Aug 31, 2016
Kim
Kim rated it it was amazing
May 11, 2012
Silver_Raven
Silver_Raven rated it it was amazing
Feb 08, 2010
Shaun
Shaun rated it really liked it
Aug 17, 2013
Yuhun Şuhan
Yuhun Şuhan rated it really liked it
Feb 09, 2017
E
E rated it really liked it
Dec 27, 2013
Marcus Gunnell
Marcus Gunnell rated it really liked it
Jan 16, 2017
Paul Firmin
Paul Firmin rated it really liked it
Sep 18, 2016
Sudakaran
Sudakaran rated it really liked it
Dec 19, 2016
Peter
Peter rated it liked it
May 09, 2014
Emmy Martina
Emmy Martina rated it really liked it
Mar 30, 2015
Joe
Joe rated it it was ok
Oct 30, 2008
Krystine
Krystine rated it really liked it
Jan 25, 2017
Christer Ellingsen
Christer Ellingsen rated it it was ok
Sep 10, 2013
H A
H A rated it liked it
Mar 17, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic
  • Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath
  • The Call of the Horned Piper
  • The Druids
  • Pagan Celtic Britain
  • Taliesin: The Last Celtic Shaman
  • Forbidden Rites: A Necromancer's Manual of the Fifteenth Century (Magic in History)
  • Animism: Respecting the Living World
  • A History of Pagan Europe
  • Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages
  • Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks & Covens
  • Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe: Early Scandinavian and Celtic Religions
  • A Brief History of the Druids (Brief History)
  • The Book of English Magic
  • Crone's Book of Charms & Spells
  • The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween: Celebrating the Dark Half of the Year
  • Aradia: Gospel of the Witches
  • The Urban Primitive: Paganism in the Concrete Jungle

Share This Book