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

Philosophy at Christmas – gawd bless us, *every one*.

Christmas – Philosophy for Everyone

Better Than a Lump of Coal

Fritz AllhoffScott C. Lowe

From the blurb:

From Santa, elves and Ebenezer Scrooge, to the culture wars and virgin birth, Christmas – Philosophy for Everyone explores a host of philosophical issues raised by the practices and beliefs surrounding Christmas. Offers thoughtful and humorous philosophical insights into the most widely celebrated holiday in the Western world Contributions come from a wide range of disciplines, including philosophy, theology, religious studies, English literature, cognitive science and moral psychology The essays cover a wide range of Christmas themes, from a defence of the miracle of the virgin birth to the relevance of Christmas to atheists and pagans

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

New Found Faith in Science

Newton by William Blake: Have scientists really turned their back on religion?

Atheists, look away now; scientists are not on your side. Or at least not as much as one might expect, according to recent evidence. In a study conducted by professor Elaine Howard Ecklund of Rice University, Texas, 1700 scientist were surveyed, along with 275 who were interviewed, as to their religious persuasion. Around 50% were admittedly religious in the traditional sense, and a further 20% were “spiritual” in a nonsectarian way. While religion amongst scientists is shown to be less prevalent in comparison to the population of the nation the data was collected in (the USA), this remains a surprising result. Continue reading “New Found Faith in Science”

$4.4 Million Grant to Study Free Will

(Cross-posted from Religion Compass Exchanges)

The John Templeton Foundation recently awarded Alfred Mele, the William H. and Lucyle Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University (FSU), a $4.4 million grant to “oversee a four-year project to improve understanding of free will in philosophy, religion and science.” Funding for the project, “Free Will: Human and Divine — Empirical and Philosophical Explorations,” will support international researchers (“who submit proposals to study the science, conceptual underpinnings and theology of free will”), research colloquia and a postdoctoral position at FSU’s department of philosophy over the next three years, a two-week seminar in the summer of 2012, and as much as $30,000 in prize money Continue reading “$4.4 Million Grant to Study Free Will”

The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Maryan Czajkowski

Ed Yong (via Pharyngulareports on a cool study conducted by psychologist Nicholas Epley:

Epley asked different groups of volunteers to rate their own beliefs about important issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, affirmative action, the death penalty, the Iraq War, and the legalisation of marijuana. The volunteers also had to speculate about God’s take on these issues, as well as the stances of an “average American”, Bill Gates (a celebrity with relatively unknown beliefs) and George Bush (a celebrity whose positions are well-known).

The result: “In every case, [Epley] found that people’s own attitudes and beliefs matched those they suggested for God more precisely than those they suggested for the other humans.”

Ed says that Epley’s study shows that “relying on a deity to guide one’s decisions and judgments is little more than spiritual sockpuppetry.”  (A sockpuppet is a “false identity through which a member of an Internet community speaks with or about himself or herself, pretending to be a different person, like a ventriloquist manipulating a hand puppet” — Wikipedia.)

I can think of at least one other plausible interpretation of this study.

Continue reading “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Maryan Czajkowski”

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