Media with a magical touch is a growing font of magical information we can categorize as fanciful, possible, plausible, and real magic. Historical Witchcraft Book Reviews aim to sort the information in magically inspired books, movies, songs, games, and other media into the aforementioned categories.
To explain a little further, let’s do a book review of two ancient books, both with long shadows.
Historic documents are fraught with false, yet incredibly influential ideas about magic and witches. The 2nd-century book, On Women’s Clothing by Tertullian heavily influenced the authors of the Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) which was written in the 15th-century.
Until the 15th century, witchcraft was an equal opportunity craft. After the Malleus Maleficarum, witchcraft became predominantly associated with women. There were many books published during the interim centuries that reinforced Tertullian’s ideas about women. Those ideas were co-opted by writers writing about witchcraft. Some of the magical ideas in the Hammer of Witches are fanciful, meaning they have no basis in reality, yet they have heavily influenced popular thought on witches and the craft. Therefore Malleus Maleficarum is housed in the Fanciful category, but wait there’s more!
The Hammer of Witches reference witches practicing maleficent magic. They got that part right, sometimes witches use magic to engage in maleficent activities. Witches sometimes curse, break, banish and destroy. I have done my fair share of banishing and worked on the offense, casting protection spells that bite. I have willfully turned living plants under the soil so that they may nourish next year’s garden while singing incantations. I have used astrological timing in conjunction with known poisons to kill squash bugs. It’s all part of the gig; death begets life. I have therefore practiced maleficent magic. That one little idea in the MM book is about real magic, but the rest of it is not, so the book stays in the fanciful category.
Now that the groundwork is in place; we hope you’ll join us next time when we review a modern novel in the real magic category!