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Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  80 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
Reveals the true nature of medieval belief in the Double of the Soul

• Demonstrates the survival of a pagan belief that each individual owns three souls, including a double that can journey outside the physical body

• Explains the nature of death and the Other World hidden beneath the monsters and superstitions in stories from the Middle Ages

Monsters, werewolves, witches,
Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 23rd 2003 by Inner Traditions (first published 1992)
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Apr 04, 2014 Elentarri rated it really liked it
Well written, well researched, very informative book about the origin and significance of pagan beliefs in the Double, and follows its transforming features (witches, werewolves and fairies) through the ages. The author analyses Germanic-Scandinavian and other European legends, to uncovered an almost forgotten religious concept: that every individual owns three souls and that one of these souls, the Double, can leave the physical body while in sleep or a trance, journey where it chooses, then re ...more
Aug 10, 2011 Mathieu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Lecouteux aborde dans cet ouvrage la notion du double au Moyen Age: les loups-garou notamment mais aussi les sorcières sont la personnification de cette notion. Une théorie intéressante mais qui, à mons avis, n'est pas complètement satisfaisante à la fois d'un point intellectuel (que faire des histoires où un loup-garou n'est pas un double?), culturel (et le christianisme dans tout ça?) et instinctive (cf. son ouvrage sur les elfes et les nains beaucoup plus enthousiasmant).
Jul 23, 2008 Edward rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Surprisingly academic. It poses a clear hypothesis and supports it convincingly with interesting case histories.
Steve Cran
Apr 22, 2012 Steve Cran rated it it was amazing
Scholarly piece of work that canvasses the gamut of European traditions and talks extensively about the Astral Double. Prior to the advent of Christianity which propagated the belief in just one complete soul and one complete body,the Europeans believed that there were three parts. The first part of the soul was called the Fylgja, the second part was called the Hugr and the third part was the Hamr.

The Fylgja acted as sort of an guardian angel. It could take the form of a human or animal. The Fyl
very interesting reading material on supernatural experiences.
Nov 11, 2015 Nicole rated it it was amazing
Lecouteux is my favorite non-fiction writer and folklorist. He focuses much of his work on occult topics like ghosts, vampires, witches, and fairies but he gives us evidence into how these legends and superstitions are linked to the ancient pagan belief system and pagan mind. He intertwines shamanism and explains many of our modern day mysteries with the old religions.

This particular book started out a wee bit slow, but towards the middle really picked up. I actually had a few epiphanies in the
Nov 15, 2015 Morgan rated it liked it
I liked this book overall. Lecouteux has some interesting insight into interpreting historical accounts of witches and werewolves through the lens of the concept of the fylgja, or the spirit double. Of particular interest was his presentation of relevant translated material from trial transcripts that described accounts of people appearing and physically acting, usually at night, while their physical bodies were sleeping in their beds. The only place the book faltered a bit for me personally wa ...more
Aubri De baudricourt
An interesting theory, but the author offers little in the way of a mechanism concerning how pre-Christian beliefs could survive a thousands years and more of Christian beliefs. Still, it is an unorthodox take on an aspect of medieval and early modern witchcraft and the attempt to explain the night flight of witches as anything other than delusion or hallucination is a brave one.
Rachel Bonaccorso Lindsay
Good and bad, definitely. Terribly disorganized as a text, and oddly translated to boot. Also in my opinion the author is way too attached to the idea of ancient holdovers to be found in folklore and reliably linked to pre-Christian beliefs. There is good material to be found here, however, but the basic thesis of the human "spirit" having been thought of in the disjointed and dualistic way he describes...I am dubious.
Jan 05, 2013 Frances rated it liked it
It was a difficult read but, informative.
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Docteur en études germaniques, docteur en lettres, est médiéviste. Il a occupé la chaire de Langues, Littératures et civilisations germaniques à l'université de Caen de 1981 à 1992 avant d'être appelé à la Sorbonne (Paris IV) pour occuper celle de Littérature et Civilisation allemande du Moyen Âge jusqu'en octobre 2007. Ses axes de recherches sont: Les êtres de la mythologie populaire, Les croyanc ...more
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