Operative Witchcraft

Operative Witchcraft is another engrossing book on the traditions of the British Isles from established author, Nigel Pennick. As Pennick says, witchcraft is a subject that has been discussed and described in many books in a variety of terms from pagan survival to devil worship and including spiritualism, shamanism, early feminism, peasant resistance, folk medicine, fortune telling, paranormal powers and confidence trickery.  However “as a broad and complex historical subject witchcraft cannot be labelled conveniently as just one or another of these …”

Witches, real or imaginary, were frequently considered to be people (usually women) who lived outside accepted societal norms and until 1735 witchcraft, as defined by law, was a heavily punishable offense that carried the death penalty for certain transgressions.

Like many other human beliefs and practices witchcraft has changed much over the years.   Operative Witchcraft focuses on the period from the late sixteenth century, through the repeal of the Witchcraft Act of 1951 when witchcraft emerged as a religious practice and up to the early twenty-first century when John Score, a Gardnerian Wiccan, founded the Pagan Front (later to change its name to the Pagan Federation) which published the Wiccan magazine (which became Pagan Dawn).

Operative Witchcraft is an engaging and highly comprehensive exploration of unique English traditions and offers information on a variety of forms of witchcraft including herbs, spells, charms, amulets, familiars and animal magic, detailing both the practices of rural people and the history of societal beliefs and opinions on the subject including relevant laws and punishments. Highly recommended!

Book Details: Nigel Pennick. Operative Witchcraft. Destiny Books (14 Nov. 2019). ISBN: 9781733980906.

Review Details: Operative Witchcraft was reviewed by June Kent, editor of Indie Shaman magazine and this review was  published in Issue 43.

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