Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Renaissance and/of Witchcraft

  • Donald Nugent (a1)


These lines might well have been written by a denizen of the contemporary counter culture, though he might have respected “Divinity” only by eliminating it for “Government.” The lines can suggest various things. First, that there is an analogy to be made between the Renaissance and the contemporary world. Secondly, that a rejection of conventional learning—we discuss it under the rubric of irrelevance—can be a prelude to a revival of the occult. Thirdly, the utilization of this text can intimate that, for present purposes, the author may owe more to Herodotus than he does to Ranke, that is, more to history as art than to history as science. That, too, may be a sign of the times.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The Renaissance and/of Witchcraft
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The Renaissance and/of Witchcraft
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The Renaissance and/of Witchcraft
      Available formats



Hide All

1. The Making of a Counter Culture (Garden. City, N. Y.: Anchor Books, 1969), pp. 124–25. See especially chapter VIII: “Eyes of Flesh, Eyes of Flesh,” 239–68.

2. New Reformation: Notes of a Neolithic Conservative (New York: Bandom House, 1970), x–xi.

3. La cultura del Rinasdmento (Editori Laterza, 1967), p. 8.

4. Lettere, ed. Franco, Gaeta (Milan, 1961), p. 457. I am grateful to Professor A. William Salomone of the University of Rochester for this citation. It goes without saying that it would be vain to document such a large canvas. Support for some of this can be found in the celebrated address of William L. Langer, “The Next Assignment,” American Historical Review, 63 (January, 1958), especially 292–301. On the hedonist and mystic formula for such an age, consult Pitirim Sorokin, A., The Crisis of our Age (New York: E. P.Dutton and Co., Inc., 1957), p. 302.On apocalypticism, consider Marjorie Reeves, The Influence of Prophesy in the Late Middle Ages: A Study in Joachimism (Oxford of the Clarendon Press, 1969); Katallagete: Be Reconciled, the whole issue of Fall, 1970; and Frank, Kermode, “The New Apocalyptists,” Partisan Review, 3 (Summer, 1966), 339–61.On Jung, see his “Epilogue to Essays on Contemporary Events,” of 1932, in Civilization in Transition, trans. Hull, R. F. C., Collected Works of C. G. Jung (New York: Pantheon Books, 1964), x, 243. And on Petrarch see The Portable Renaissance Reader, ed. Ross, James Bruce and MeLanghlin, Mary Martin (New York: The Viking Press, 1958), pp. 120–22.

5. For example, Witchcraft and Sorcery: Selected Readings, ed. Max, Marwick (Middle sex: Penguin Books, 1970), pp. 4748, 60, 238; Lucy, Mair, Witchcraft, (New York and Toronto: World University Library, 1969), p. 15. Pico della Mirandola went so far as to consider all paganism as diabolic. Walker, D. P., Spiritual and Demonic Magic From Ficino to Campanella (London: The Warburg Institute University, 1958), pp. 146–47. On the problem of the gods see also Nanert, Charles G., Agrippa and the Crisis of Renaissance Thought (University of Illinois Press, 1956), pp. 244ff. Nauert provides much help generally on the Renaissance and the occult. Cain was put in this pantheon after reading Ellul, Jacques, “Cain, the Theologian of 1969,” Katallagete: Be Reconciled (Winter, 19681969), 47. This view is supported by a contemporary Satanist. See Smith, Susy, Today's Witches (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1970), pp. 106–07.

6. For example, Anton, Szandor LaVey, The Satanic Bible (New York: Avon, 1969), p. 88, rejects white witches as wanting conviction: “ONE GOOD ORGASM WOULD PROBABLY KILL THEM!” Sybil, Leek, Diary of a Witch (Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968), p. 173, dismisses black witches as “pseudo-covens.” Alex Sanders, now a white witch, allows both and has practiced both. See June, Johns, King of the Witches: The World of Alex Sanders (London: Peter Davies, 1969).

7. The Satanic Bible, p. 110. And for one of many illustrations of sex magic, see Richard, Cavendish, The Black Arts (London: Pan Books, Ltd., 1967), p. 279. Let me indicate that I have attempted to clear my mind on these and other subjects at better leisure in The City of God Revisted,” Cross Currents (Summer, 1969), 241–55, and especially “The Future of Witchcraft,” The Month (London), scheduled for publication early in 1971.

8. For some support for these general views see Yates, Francis A., Giordano Bruno and the Hermetio Tradition (University of Chicago Press), pp. 11, 1718, 126; Nauert, 223; Baroja, Julio Caro, The World of the Witches, trans. Glendening, O. N. V. (University of Chicago Press, 1964), pp. 44, 5560; Trevor-Roper, H. R., “Witches and Witchcraft,” Encounter (05, 1967).

9. Zilboorg, Gregory M. D., The Medical Man and the Witch During the Renaissance (New York: Cooper Square Publishing, Inc., 1935), p. 63.

10. For some support, beyond Yates, passim, see Burckhardt, Jacob, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (New York: Mentor Book ed. 1961), pp. 363, 365, 373; and Nauret, 236.

11. Zilboorg, 61. Also cf. Erikson, Erik H., Young Man Luther: A Study in Psycho-analysis and History (New York: The Norton Library, 1962), p. 193.

12. Walker, 82–83. On the Free Spirit, Norman, Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millenium (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1961), pp. 152, 165, 189.

13. See the Malleus, ed. Montague Summers (London: The Hogarth Press, 1928), pp. 43 and 4148 generally.

14. Zilboorg, , 165.

15. Caro Baroja, 101–02; on Essex county, MacFarlane, A. D. J., Witchcraft in Tudor and Stuart England (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1970), p. 160; and Jules, Michelet, Satanism and Witchcraft, trans. Allinson, A. R. (London: Tanden, 1965), p. 9. And on the old priestesses, see Margaret, Alice Murray, The God of the Witches (London: Faber and Faber, 1931), e.g., pp. 145, 149. Let it be said that contemporary scholarly opinion is skeptical of many of Murray's theories.

16. To tie together some of these thoughts, the interview with Sanders was in London, July 8, 1970. Brown's study is his Life against Death: the Psychoanalytic Meaning of History (New York: Vintage Books, 1959), pp. 212–15, which is not to accept his association of Lutheranism and Manichaeism. For various thoughts see two well documented studies, MacFarlane, 186–88, 195, and Robert, Mandrou, Magistrats et sorciers en France au XVII siècle (Paris, Plon, 1968), pp. 93, 122–25, 152. On the “Protestant wind,” Johns, 126.

17. Allowed by Margaret Alice Murray herself, The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1921), p. 16. Also see McFarlane, , 138–41, 201; and Mair, 197. Interestingly, what we know of the Free Spirit from their inquisitional enemies accords well with their own sources; Cohn, 150–51.

18. Witchcraft Today (London: Arrow Books, 1966), pp. 22, 155. Also see Mandrou, 120.

19. The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology, ed. Robbins, R. H.. (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1959), pp. 1617.

20. Witches and Witchcraft,” Part II, Encounter (06, 1967), 30.

21. See his celebrated essay, “The Role of the Unconscious,” Selected Works, X, 3–28.

22. The Confessions of Aleister Crotcley: An Autohagiography (New York: Hill and Wang, 1969), pp. 838–39.

23. Wotan, Selected Works, X, especially 181–85.

24. Trans. Myers, Rollo (New York: Avon, 1968), pp. 204206, 283.

25. Selected Works, X, 83, 214, 243.

26. Wallace, C. H., Witchcraft in the World Today (New York: Award Books, 1967), pp. 12, 29. Also see Cavendish 10; and Smith, 107, 127–28.

27. Henry, Ansgar Kelly, The Devil, Demonology and Witchcraft (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1968), p. 131 and his reappraisal in Commonweal, (11 6, 1970), 146–49.

28. “Witch Power,” Motive (March–April), 77.

29. Lawrence, Schiller, The Killing of Sharon Tate (New York: Signet Books, 1969), p. 92, also see 94.

30. See, for example, Smith, 9–14.

31. For W.I.T.C.H., Motive, 77; for Waite, Pauwels and Bergier, 213.

32. Nick, Cohn, Rock, From the Beginning (New York: Stein and Day, 1969), pp. 172, 165–65. Also see Jonathan, Eisen, ed., Altamont: Death of Innocence in the Woodstock Nation (New York: Avon, 1970), pp. 2324, 90. Jagger is continually treated as diabolic in this report. I am grateful to Miss Jan McKenzie, an undergraduate at the University of Kentucky, for some valuable counsel in this area.

33. MacFarlane, , 161; Johns, , 120–21, 96.

34. For some particulars, Zilboorg, , 141–45; Caro, Baroja, 107, 254.

35. Francis, Huxley, “Drugs,” Man Myth and Magic, 25 (1970), 713–14.

36. MacFarlane, , xv.

37. Quoted in Figgis, J. N., Political Thought from Gerson to Grotius, 1st. ed., 1907 (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1960), p. 9.

38. Diary, 183.

39. Pauwels, and Bergier, , 57.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Church History
  • ISSN: 0009-6407
  • EISSN: 1755-2613
  • URL: /core/journals/church-history
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed