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How “witchcraft” came to obsess political and religious authorities

The doyen of British occult studies disentangles the arcane histories of contemporary druids, followers of wicca and neo-pagans

By Ian Irvine   August 2017

The Witch: A History of Fear, from Ancient Times to the Present by Ronald Hutton (Yale, £25)

Donald Trump has recently been tweeting that he is the subject of a “witch hunt”—and, almost needless to say, he believes it to be the greatest in US history. The events at Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, rather contradict him. But those 20 deaths pale in comparison to the 40-60,000 legal executions for witchcraft across Europe between the 15th and the 18th century. If the ideal of history is to present the past “as it really…

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