Review; Greenmantle (Samhain 2018)
Witchcraft and the Scots
By Arnold Crowther
(Centre For Pagan Studies ISBN-13: 978-1999639600 Price . £10.99)
As a brief overview or introduction to the Scottish witch trials, this is an admirable little book. Found among his papers after his death in 1974, it sits well alongside the other witchcraft books by Arnold Crowther, one of the early figures of Wicca.
After putting Scottish witch law into European context, he gives examples of the full range of victims executed there: innocent political pawns, beneficial cunning folk, the probably mentally ill - and in at least one case, the Aberdeen witches, a possible instance of genuine folk celebrants, whose major crime seems to have been dancing around a standing stone on Halloween. He also includes a now-quaint chapter on the coven-leading “Devil” as he was understood by Wiccans of the mid-twentieth century.
Crowther pulls no punches in his reporting, and thus I might disagree with Leslie-Anne Brewster’s description of the book as “enjoyable”; otherwise, however, her Foreword very accurately sums it up: “An interesting and enjoyable read for anybody curious about Scottish witches. . . . [And] what gives this book a significance beyond its content, is how much it confides of the thinking and theorizing of the well-read occultist and witch who wrote it.”
As usual, the production by the Doreen Valiente Foundation makes for a pleasant volume, full of Crowther’s own charming sketches illustrating the text. Another worthwhile lost classic brought to light by this dedicated organization. – TH
We thank Greenmantle for this review, and you can purchase your copy of this special book direct from us here. http://www.shop.doreenvaliente.org/witchcraft-and-the-scots