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

4.20  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,354 Ratings  ·  70 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
Paperback, 512 pages
Published May 31st 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published November 4th 1999)
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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
Jun 12, 2007 Ken rated it it was ok
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
Dec 12, 2008 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 12, 2008 David rated it it was amazing
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
Mary Catelli
Apr 16, 2014 Mary Catelli rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-modern
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
Tim Pendry
Mar 23, 2008 Tim Pendry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in contemporary culture
This is the near-definitive account of the new religions that emerged, largely from the UK, in the last century. Hutton is sympathetic but rigorously academic, and has swept away the traditionalist claims of some founders whilst ensuring respect and dignity for practitioners. It is the founding text for understanding the context for any further reading in this field.
Mar 05, 2016 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, I wrote quite a long winded and spoiler-ish review here:

So in lieu of copy-pasting I'll just say I loved this book - not as much as Stations of the Sun (which I just about revere) but it's so excellent at giving an extremely rigorous account of how current WooWiccans got to where they are.

It also respectfully gives plenty of space for people trying to practice Paganism realistically without the Woo. Which I found rather wonderful of him. Gave much
Dec 22, 2010 Hermgirl rated it liked it
Shelves: neopaganism
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
Mar 18, 2011 Wishmaster rated it really liked it
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
Matt Fimbulwinter
Jan 05, 2014 Matt Fimbulwinter rated it really liked it
Shelves: srs, pagan
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
Apr 02, 2013 Brian rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 20, 2008 Dfordoom rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Jul 28, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 16, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing
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
Erik Akre
Mar 26, 2016 Erik Akre rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all Wiccans and Pagans, no matter who you are or what you practice
Shelves: wicca, history
At first, I embraced the Wicca phenomenon as one smitten with infatuation. I did not jump in as a practitioner, but I was floored by the possibilities of religious practice that Wicca presented. I did not do a lot of reflection, however; I just consumed anything I could get my hands on, and did so somewhat indiscriminately.

It was fun, but somewhere in my mind I knew I wasn't getting a full picture. Always in the background were the questions: Where did all this stuff come from? What roots are th
Gabriel Clarke
Feb 20, 2013 Gabriel Clarke rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 03, 2014 Lady rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 24, 2013 Bianca Bradley rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 11, 2011 Kerr Cuhulain rated it it was amazing
Excellent history of the origins of modern Wicca. I highly recommend it!
Feb 22, 2015 Joshua rated it really liked it
I slowly read this book over the course of a year and half (or even MORE!) and honestly I still haven't read the concluding chapter. This book does present a well-researched and well-rounded history of occult witchcraft over time (mostly modern witchcraft). Robert mostly talks of witchcraft from the Victorian era onward.

The book took me a very long time to read because it is HIGHLY academic. It reminded me of reading a doctoral dissertation and very well could have been one. There was a lot of
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
Titus L
Apr 24, 2012 Titus L rated it really liked it
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
R. Ellis
Apr 05, 2010 R. Ellis rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 27, 2012 Rachel rated it really liked it
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
Apr 23, 2011 Helena rated it really liked it
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
Steve Wiggins
Nov 26, 2015 Steve Wiggins rated it it was amazing
With Hutton's usual wit and verve, this history of modern witchcraft is as much a reference book as it is a readable history. Thorough, sensitive, and sensible, this book is a sure guide to a modern English religion that has some kinds of connections with antiquity, but none that are very direct. I gave further comments on this book on my blog: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World.
Apr 01, 2015 Gwyn rated it really liked it
I'm giving this book 4 stars even though I didn't finish it because that's not its fault. This is a scholarly work, dense with citations, quotes, and references. It is not the sort of book one picks up from the library for a little light reading, which is what I picked it up for. Rather, this is the sort of book one buys one's own copy of, reads carefully, and then keeps on the bookshelf for reference.

What I have read so far is excellent: well-reasoned, supported by evidence, meticulous--precis
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
Suzanne Singman
Jan 02, 2016 Suzanne Singman rated it really liked it
It was very dense and the font was small.
The content was well researched and full of great information. I got a much better historical view of Pagans and the beginnings of the craft.
Andy Fournier
Feb 06, 2015 Andy Fournier rated it it was amazing
Hutton's forensic dissection of modern witchcraft marked a turning point for the study of the subject. Essential grounding for Wiccan root seekers by the brightest intellect in the field.
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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 of history at the University of Bristol, Hutton has published fourteen books and has appeared on British television and radio.
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