EMBRACING THE DARKNESS

Embracing the Darkness brings the twilight world of the witch, mage and necromancer to vivid and fascinating life. The book leads the reader through a shadowy landscape where, in an age before modern medicine, the onset of sudden illness was readily explained by malevolent spellcasting: and where dark, winding country lanes could terrify by night, as the hoot of an owl or the shriek of a fox became the desolate cries of unseen spirits, ghouls and spectres. Witchcraft has profoundly shaped the Western imagination, and endures in the forms of modern-day Wicca and Paganism. Embracing the Darkness is an enthralling account of this fascinating aspect of the Western cultural experience.

‘John Callow’s cultural history of witchcraft is a vivid, compelling, bizarre and terrifying history of devils, witches, demonic seduction and witch-hunts – deeply researched, highly readable and strangely relevant for our own times’.

Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of The Romanovs

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‘Be warned: this is a dangerous, seductive book which contains the power both of metamorphosis and time travel. Open at any page and step into the past as living breathing history … The author’s genius is to explain the strange transformation of the witch from a female archetype of fear and hate to a modern-day sympathetic and aspirational figure and forerunner of feminism’.

Rachel Holmes, author of African Queen and Eleanor Marx: A Life

 

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‘This is one of the most fascinating books on witches and witchcraft that I’ve read for some time. Through a sharply discerning lens, separating cultural assumptions from historical fact, John Callow looks at the history of witches and the variety of ways in which they have been viewed … Embracing the Darkness may lead the reader through shadows, but it is a most enlightening book’.

Gary Lachman, former bass guitarist with Blondie, author of The Secret Teachers of the Western World and Turn Off Your Mind: The Mystic Sixties and the Dark Side of the Age of Aquarius 

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‘The great virtue of Embracing the Darkness lies in its eschewing any simplistic, reductionist explanations of witchcraft in favour of a series of detailed, finely nuanced accounts that give the reader a much richer appreciation of the many ways that the witch has been constructed and imagined in Western culture. It’s a terrific example of contextual scholarship’. 

Professor Philip C. Almond, University of Queensland

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‘A compelling treatment of the witch in culture, literature and art – with a strong social and political critique evident throughout. Callow shows a nuanced appreciation of pagan history, and indeed a sensibility, in Western Europe’s understanding of witchcraft and magic’.

Christina Oakley Harrington, Founder & Director, Treadwell’s Bookshop, London

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‘The book is eclectic in the best possible way. Each chapter deals with a different appearance of the witch or witches, some well-known and others more obscure. The response to each subject is personal and poetic and deals with “high” and “low” culture with an egalitarianism which is to be commended … This is a fantastic book’.

The Enquiring Eye, (Journal of the Witchcraft Museum, Boscastle), Issue 2.

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‘John Callow’s cultural history of witchcraft is a wonderful read. An historian with several books on witchcraft and on the 17th century, Callow is an enthusiastic writer who draws you along with him … Any cultural analysis is inevitably selective; Callow’s selection, even when gruesome, is compelling. Above all he is a consummate storyteller, concluding that the witch is a vehicle for transformation’.

The Fortean Times, Issue 372, November 2018

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