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Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Reading: Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture


An early present for you readers - no sales, no fashion; a book.

We've just had the solstice, and Christmas is (somehow) tomorrow. For me anyway, winter feels like a time when everything sleeps; trees are bare, everything closes up for the season, and I hibernate. But like a cell's interphase, it's also a period of preparation, and development for the future - plenty of rest is needed, and maybe also some time to catch up on reading material.

Given the obvious pagan roots of Christmas, for those also planning on devouring some words one of my favourite queer feminist texts springs to mind; Arthur Evans' seminal 1978 text Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture. Looking at the intersection of queer culture, witchcraft, feminism, and oppression through the centuries, Evans' work - though flawed, and now somewhat dated in its language - has had a massive impact on academic discourse regarding these areas, and yet is almost impossible to find. Luckily for you, some kind soul uploaded the entire text online for free, and it can be found in PDF form here.

Particularly with regards to the recent occult revival, I feel like this is an important book for anyone to read - pagan, queer, feminist, or historian alike. It's contains the history of the oppressed, so often ignored or smothered, and analyses the very prejudices and assumptions of its own contemporaries in anthropology and history. It's also extremely readable, and avoids the jargon and impenetrability of academia - and, most importantly, produces the kind of excitement you only get from learning to see the world with new eyes.

This year's holly piece.  

Merry Christmas, readers! Hope you're all nurturing your brains.

Fiona C


  1. It sounds very interesting. I feel like witchcraft and outsiders have always been very interlinked, for instance odd people being accused of witchcraft as they did not fit in or women being accused because they were too independent and it was " unnatural"

    1. Absolutely! There's hundreds of interlinked reasons why witchcraft and the oppressed are linked, though - certainly political convenience for the ruling class, but the old shamanistic and nature religions (which probably descended down as witchcraft) did place a higher value (spiritually and socially) on the feminine and queer, unlike the following societies. It's a fascinating read, and I definitely recommend it.

  2. It was written after Gardenerian Wicca brought British Witchcraft to popularity as a spiritual path, so I wonder if there's something in there about the way it started off as a very binary, dualistic and gender-roled religion (even if it did place increased prominence on the feminine as Goddess) and how it became more fluid and accepting. It looks like a title that ought to be on my witchy book-case, anyway.


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