Witches : A Philosophical, Theological, and Historical Look

 “Something wicked this way comes!”

In a millennium, Halloween has grown from its pagan roots to a boisterous holiday celebrated by many cultures worldwide. Often when we think of Halloween, we recall deliciously fearsome ghosts, ghouls, and witches. To celebrate Halloween this year, we have put together a special collection of stories and articles on witches – from delightful quizzes and fun facts to the more macabre history of persecutions and anthropological studies of rituals.

Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!

Just for Fun
Take our quiz to find out which fictional witch coven you belong to!



The Atlantic




Our special collection, free through November 30.

Witchcraft and Religion

Witchcraft, Grief, and the Ambivalence of Emotions

American Ethnologist

Teaching and Learning Guide for: Interpreting Magic and Divination in the Ancient Near East and Magic and Divination in Ancient Israel

Religion Compass

“Out of the Broom Closet”: The Social Ecology of American Wicca

Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

Religion: Witchcraft Confessions and Accusations

American Anthropologist

Pagan Pilgrimage: New Religious Movements Research on Sacred Travel within Pagan and New Age Communities

Religion Compass

Witch Hunts and Persecution

Visions of Evil: Popular Culture, Puritanism and the Massachusetts Witchcraft Crisis of 1692

Journal of American Culture

Witches and Persecuting Societies

Journal of Historical Sociology

Traditions and Trajectories in the Historiography of European Witch Hunting

History Compass

Mass Inhumation and the Execution of Witches in the American Southwest

American Anthropologist

Witches and Gender Studies

Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Paganism

Religion Compass

The New Witch of the West: Feminists Reclaim the Crone

Journal of Popular Culture

How Magic Works: New Zealand Feminist Witches’ Theories of Ritual Action

Anthropology of Consciousness

Man as Witch: Male Witches in Central Europe by Rolf Schulte Witchcraft and Masculinities in Early Modern Europe edited by Alison Rowlands

Gender & History

Witchcraft and Popular Culture

Mass Media and Religious Identity: A Case Study of Young Witches

Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

The Occult Revival as Popular Culture: Some Random Observations on the Old and the Nouveau Witch

The Sociological Quarterly

The “Witchcraft” of Media Manipulation: Pamela and The Blair Witch Project

Journal of Popular Culture

Witchcraft and Spirit Possession in Grimm’s Fairy Tales

Journal of Popular Culture

Witch Doctors, Voodoo, and Ritual Medicine

Buying a better witch doctor: Witch-finding, neoliberalism, and the development imagination in the Taita Hills, Kenya

American Ethnologist

Turning Outside In: Infolded Selves in Cuban Creole Espiritismo


AMERICA: Voodoos and Obeahs: Phases of West India Witchcraft. Joseph J. Williams. S. J. Ph.D. (Ethnol), Litt.D

American Anthropologist

Enchanting Panics and Obeah Anxieties: Concealing and Disclosing Eastern Caribbean Witchcraft

Anthropology and Humanism

Feminist and Religious Ethics: A Conversation

Religious EthicsThe focus of Journal of Religious Ethics 43:2 is a conversation at and about the interface of feminist ethics and religious ethics, in order to show what these multifaceted fields of intellectual endeavor and practical import have to say to each other, to teach and to learn. The seven essays approach that dialogue from a variety of angles and traditions, reflecting the fecundity of both fields and the wide-ranging concerns of colleagues in religious ethics who share commitments and methods with feminist ethics.

Throughout these articles, themes and methods characteristic of feminist thought prevail, perhaps especially feminism’s insistence on the crucial value of a particularist perspective for moral deliberation. From Hille Haker’s powerful story of Valentina, a Moldovan mother who fell prey to sex traffickers, to the voices of young black lesbians, in the essay by Thelathia N. Young and Shannon J. Miller, mourning the disruption of formative relationships with their mothers and their church communities, the focus on particulars afforded by narrative methods stands out. One consistent result of this attention is the readiness to interrogate arguments that seem to “work” in the theoretical realm but threaten harm when put into practice.

These essays make clear that feminist ethics and religious ethics not only have much of value to say to each other, but also have ways of holding each other accountable for blind spots and errors that arise from too narrow a focus on one or another method or conviction, errors that can have undesirable, even immoral results in practice. In addition to the fruitfulness of the dialogue, however, feminism also offers something new: previously unacknowledged fields to explore, novel perspectives on areas of ethical thought that may have seemed to have been conclusively settled, and fresh examinations of long-shelved topics and thinkers.

The call to be “finely aware and richly responsible”—issued by feminist philosopher Martha Nussbaum (1985), using words of Henry James that also echo in the work of religious ethicist H. Richard Niebuhr (1963)—knows no disciplinary boundary. It’s time to talk.

The Call of Silence

the debateWhat if silence was the route for understanding and theorizing a better world? In a recent debate done at the Institute of Art and Ideas, an author, a former priest, a philosopher of language and musician weigh in on how silence can be a means to approaching deep philosophical puzzles. Is there an implication within silence that necessitates an understanding of society or is it that silence leads to answers? There are three parts to the debate; Unspeakable things, Beyond words, and can silence change the world?

To watch the debate, click here: http://iai.tv/video/the-call-of-silence.  The Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI) is committed to fostering a progressive and vibrant intellectual culture in the UK. A not-for-profit organization, it is engaged in changing the current cultural landscape through big ideas, boundary-pushing thinkers and challenging debates.

Video Abstract: The Epistemology of Religious Diversity in Contemporary Philosophy of Religion

This video abstract accompanies the Philosophy Compass article The Epistemology of Religious Diversity in Contemporary Philosophy of Religion by Amir Dastmalchian.

Call for Papers: Journal of Religious Ethics

“Empress Theodora and Her Court” (Basilica of San Vitale)
The Journal of Religious Ethics is seeking manuscripts for a projected focus issue on feminist moral philosophy and religious ethics. Here’s the invitation from the editors:

We are interested in articles that address historical, methodological, and practical issues related to the intersection of feminist moral philosophy and the field of religious ethics. Our goal is to foster broader conversations about feminism’s influence on religious ethics, and, in particular, to break down artificial disciplinary boundaries that often stifle robust conversations. We encourage a diversity of perspectives from philosophers and religious studies scholars.

Submission deadline: May 1, 2013

New Insights and Directions for Religious Epistemology

Congratulations to John Hawthorne, editor of Philosophical Perspectives, for his recent grant award from the John Templeton Foundation! Prof. Hawthorne will lead a project titled “New Insights and Directions for Religious Epistemology” that seeks to revitalize the field by drawing on recent developments in mainstream epistemology. Valued at £1.3 million, the award will support three postdoctoral researchers, three PhD students, 22 visiting research fellowships, nine public lectures, four roundtable discussions, six workshops, and a major international conference.

Scholarly Content on the Impact of 9/11

Navy videographer at Ground Zero

In the 10 years since the events of September 2001 a vast amount of scholarly research has been written on the impact of 9/11. Wiley-Blackwell is pleased to share with you this collection of free book and journal content, featuring over 20 book chapters and 185 journal articles from over 200 publications, spanning subjects across the social sciences and humanities.

Simply click on your area of interest below to access this reading and learning resource today:

Accounting & Finance

Anthropology, History & Sociology

Business & Management

Communication & Media Studies


Geography, Development & Urban Studies


Literature, Language & Linguistics


Politics & International Relations


Religion & Theology