The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft
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The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  1,061 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Here is a book that 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, pa...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published May 31st 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published November 4th 1999)
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Drawing Down the Moon by Margot AdlerWicca by Scott CunninghamThe Spiral Dance by StarhawkThe Triumph of the Moon by Ronald HuttonA Witches' Bible by Janet Farrar
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The true history of modern Wicca. Deeply academic yet totally fascinating, Ronald Hutton here turns his considerable historical expertise to unraveling the roots of Britain's only home-grown religion. No, it's not 30,000 years old, and yes, Gerald Gardener did fudge a lot of things. But Hutton argues persuasively that Wicca's origins do go beyond Gardener, for he was influenced not only by Hinduism (he'd been a civil servant in India) but by a diverse collection of sources: Romantic literature,...more
I can't give a clear recommendation for this book.

It seems to be rather fixated on refuting an absolute connection from old pagan religion towards neopaganism. On the very narrow line the author follows that refutation can be justified, and for that I suppose it has some use.

On the other hand it tends to ignore broader connections that are the source of some of the revivification of older religions. Traditional dances, carnivals that have figures associated with pagan diety, and symbols that su...more
Hutton more or less aproached the book as an unbiased historian instead of going out of his way to critique Wicca. Although just stating the facts in itself makes wicca look silly. I'd recomend reading this book. As much as I dislike Wicca the history and evolution of it is interesting.

Wiccas roots are in freemasonry, crowleyish occult b.s and well meaning but flawed writers like Yeats, Frazer and Graves. Once you get past where its roots lie it gets even worse. Wicca has absolutely nothing to...more
Mary Catelli
An interesting look at the influences and currents prior to, and their culmination in, the developments of modern pagan witchcraft. In Great Britain, and somewhat in the United States.

The first part I found the most interesting. The Victorian writers treatment of pagan gods and goddesses. How Minerva and Juno passed out of favor in poetical allusions, and while Diana and Venus kept it, they also turned into goddess of the wild. Plus the addition of the Mother Earth only loosely based pagan sourc...more
I liked this book, and didn't like it.

I like that the connections with antiquity are found in classic literature, such as Byron, Shelly, and Swinburne, rather than insisting on connection with some kind of lineage that goes back to ancients. I have a theory that while there was "a witchcraft" in pretty much every religion and culture throughout history, Wicca itself, and by extension most modern paganism, is a modern invention of many different things taken from different places.

After reading th...more
The first half of the book is incredibly dry and hard to get into. Things liven up (comparitively anyway) in the second part and this is where it becomes very interesting.

I can understand why Ronald Hutton came under fire for his quite constricted presentation of the provenance of Wicca. There are hints of there being much more to the story, but without definitive evidence, he either sits on the fence and says maybe, or dismisses things that really deserved more attention.

I'm torn. The book is e...more
Matt Fimbulwinter
A historical examination of modern Pagan Witchcraft. I've been reading enough non-fiction in the past few years to develop strong tastes. This was well suited to those tastes. The author is an academic, who strives to present arguments for and against various positions as they are presented, with evidence on each side. There are substantial notes. Where the author knows the people he's discussing, he works to declare his bias, and still presents criticisms of the subject. Similarly, when he clea...more
Ronald Hutton’s The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft turned out to be a fascinating read. I found the first half especially interesting, where he traced the various strands – such as the revival of ritual magic, Theosophy, the increasing interest in ancient paganism, the survival of traditional magical practices like charms – emerged during the nineteenth century and then came together in the 20th to form what was effectively a new religion. The second half then traces t...more
This is an awesome book. It gives the history of modern paganism, with a particular focus on Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions, and the cultural forces that precursed them. For a scholarly text, is is extremely easy to read and Hutton puts his own wry wit into numerous examples. He is also extremely respectful of the beliefs of current Wiccans and Pagans, and never uses the historical fallacies or irregularities to discredit the religion. His final chapter, where he synthesizes his findings...more
Terribly interesting to read in it's own right, this book will level the head of any new neo-pagans and aspiring witches. Follow it up with "Drawing Down the Moon" and you'll have your spiritual cap screwed on tight enough to withstand the sea of occult books out there that seek to do little beyond part you with your money. I wish this book was around when I was a teen. This isn't to say I wish I hadn't become a pagan or that I regret any of my past. But a scholarly shot in the arm would have pr...more
Oct 16, 2008 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Elizabeth, Christine, Zane
This is the most important Witchcraft book ever. I mean, once you've read all the pretty pseudo-histories and herstories that this book turns into lovely fairy tales. Every single religious movement, occult organization, art trend, anthropologiist mistake and more that went into the Gerald Gardner creating Wicca is documented brilliantly! It's worth the read for non-Pagans just to learn about things such as the Freemasons. The writer is an English scholar, but it's a fun read while your brain ge...more
Gabriel M. Clarke
This book demands a thorough review from me at some point. Suffice to say that if you're attracted to any form of Paganism, Triumph of the Moon will provide you with a framework for appreciating and engaging with the experiences those paths offer without requiring you to check your credulity at the door. Not without flaws but generally wonderful.
This is a revolutionary book, and it's well worth the read; but I'm almost sorry it was written. Ronald Hutton conclusively shows that modern Wicca is a synthesis of folk tradition, the woodcraft movement, Freemasonry, and a handful of other sources, rather than an ancient tradition handed down for generations in secret. Since then, however, Wicca appears to be on the decline; we Witches aren't the "cool kids" anymore. Which is really too bad, because unlike those who had been taught the Great L...more
Bianca Bradley
Loved this book. It puts to rest many of the false mythologies of Wicca and it's foundation. More people need to read it, to stop the fluffy bunny history bs.
Kerr Cuhulain
Excellent history of the origins of modern Wicca. I highly recommend it!
Steve Cran
If one wishes to practice the craft then it makes sense that one should learn the history of the craft. Wicca was introduced by Gerald Gardener in the mid to late 1950's shortly after Britain repealed their anti-witchcraft laws. Gardener claimed that he became initiated into a coven in North Forrest England. His claims are subject to dispute.

Prior to him introducing Wicca, Gerald Gardner was a member of the Mason and he was a member of Ordo Templis Orientales, Aleister Crowley's organization. Mr...more
Celestial Elf
Intruigued by Mr Hutton's assertion that "Wicca" (meaning the wiseones) is the first all British religion given to the world, I approached his book The Triumph of the Moon as my first serious study of Wicca and Witchcraft with an objective attitude and without any preconceived perspectives on the matter. As anyone who has read any Hutton will already know, his books are academic, copiously refferenced and invariably not a light read.

Of The Origins of Modern Perspectives On Wichcraft, Wicca and P...more
R. Ellis
I loved this book. It took me quite awhile to get through it, but I thought the effort well worthwhile as an aid to any seeker inclined toward paganism or wicca. Even though the book focuses on paganism as practiced in Britain and northern Europe, its reasoning is universal in nature. Only the examples and history are specific.

However, this book is not for everybody. Hutton is an academician, a history professor to be exact, and his book is a study of paganism from a historical perspective. Not...more
the book was a mixed bag for me. i knew going in it was a scholarly book, the website lists the reading level of the book as "Late Undergraduate to Post-Graduate" so it's not like i was expecting flowing narrative or the tone of a memoir or anything like that. some of the chapters i very much liked as they took the approach of how a concept develops. it's not so much about what is right or wrong, what was or wasn't but simply what people thought at particular times and how that evolved....more
As a scholarly book written by a professional historian, I did not expect to ‘swallow this book whole’, but I was mistaken. The Triumph of the Moon exceeded its already lofty reputation for me as it wove a rich tapestry of the sociocultural context from which modern pagan witchcraft emerged. Hutton presents a detailed overview of historical movements and shifts in ideology, which set the precedence for the pagan revival of the 1950’s. He gently but firmly breaks down the myth that modern day Pag...more
Hutton's history of British Pagan Witchcraft as it came to be practiced in the 20th century is itself a triumph of scholarship - a synthesis of truly copious documentary sources, along with personal observations among contemporary practitioners, presented with rigorous thoroughness and anchored in the biographic narratives of the individuals who lived that history. Hutton's treatment of those individuals (who include practicing pagans, magicians, writers, scholars, and many others across several...more
This was an interesting primer on the history of modern Paganism, with special emphasis on Wicca. It was a little light on analysis and heavy on narrative for me, hence the four stars, but it is an excellent history of the origins of modern, as opposed to historical, Paganism.

There are many intriguing mini-biographies and the author is generally sympathetic to Paganism and Pagans in general...occasionally too sympathetic to be wholly objective.

Still, a good primer and highly recommended.

4 out...more
Anyone wanting to understand the development of Wicca should read this book. It's very detailed, but also easy to follow, as long as you have a basic background on the subject. It is one of the few academic publications on the topic. AS such, it has things like footnotes rather than wild claims without reference taht are unfortunately common in non-academic works.

Downside: The print is small, and the reading is fairly dry since it is academic. The first chapter or two are the worst. I found ever...more
Christine Bowles
Even after years of practicing the pagan religion, I found this book to be very useful in further understanding the history of the religion I follow. Hutton does an incredible job of delving into the past of a religion that is deeply hidden in shadow. Not only does he find details that have been previously hidden or misunderstood, but he collects them in a way that allows the reader to fully comprehend it all. I feel that I am walking away from this book with a far deeper knowledge of not only t...more
This book is itself a triumph! Extremely informative and interesting, Hutton presents to the reader a extremely detailed and thoroughly researched insight into a part of English history that had an impact that spread across the world. Modern paganism is one of the fastest growing religions in today's society and through Hutton's work it is possible to trace it back to it's origins and the role of the key figures that helped it take on the shape it has today. Dispelling the myths and showing the...more
Gwynalda Shadowalker
Ronald Hutton's "Triumph of the Moon" is REQUIRED reading for all my Craft students. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

In my opinion, anyone who self-identifies as a modern, Neo-Pagan Witch, really needs to read, study, and assimilate the information presented in "Triumph."

There are far too many Wiccan authors and Craft teachers who deny the historical facts about our religion, rather than embracing the challenge that we are members of a NEW (and powerful) Earth-based, Neo-Pagan Spiritual Move...more
Ryver Maren
I think this is a book anyone getting into modern pagan witchcraft/Wicca should read. It certain dispells a lot of the misinformation floating about, connecting the changing cultural ideals of the late 19th/early 20th century to the formation of groups such as the Freemasons, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) - all of which had some contribution to what later became known as Wicca.

I found this book also places a lot of common modern pagan traditions in cont...more
Derek Baldwin
A proper history of paganism, wicca etc. Exposes all the wanky claims of wicca's timelessness - given that what most people call paganism was invented by Gerald Gardner et al in the last 100 years. None of which makes paganism invalid, or pagans frauds, but they need to be careful about some of their claims and all this skyclad dancing around in stone circles is a bit lame really and makes you want to punch them. Recommended to me by Sally: "Hi I'm Sally. I'm a witch" "Um, ok, nice to meet you....more
One of the books I used for my thesis. Hutton, an excellent historian, traces the origins of modern Pagan Witchcraft, an invented tradition, from Gerald Gardner and his fascination with esoteric societies to present practice, which has become its own beast. Like any good historian, he allows and investigates the origin myths as Neo-Pagans give them, but ultimately uncovers the roots of this invented tradition, without ever once disrespecting it. Fascinating and accessibly written.
Michel Vaillancourt
A long but ultimately worthwhile and enlightening read.
The depth of material makes it very difficult to discuss any one aspect of the book other than the exacting standards of research, depth, and fairness of the subject matter presented
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Ronald Hutton (born 1953) is an English historian who specializes in the study of Early Modern Britain, British folklore, pre-Christian religion and contemporary Paganism. A professor in the subject at the University of Bristol, Hutton has published fourteen books and has appeared on British television and radio.
More about Ronald Hutton...
The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain Witches, Druids and King Arthur The Druids: A History

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