This celebrated study of witchcraft in Europe traces the worship of the pre-Christian and prehistoric Horned God from paleolithic times to the medieval period. Murray, the first to turn a scholarly eye on the mysteries of witchcraft, enables us to see its existence in the Middle Ages not as an isolated and terrifying phenomenon, but as the survival of a religion nearly as old as humankind itself, whose devotees held passionately to a view of life threatened by an alien creed. The findings she sets forth, once thought of as provocative and implausible, are now regarded as irrefutable by folklorists and scholars in related fields. Exploring the rites and ceremonies associated with witchcraft, Murray establishes the concept of the "dying god"--the priest-king who was ritually killed to ensure the country and its people a continuity of fertility and strength. In this light, she considers such figures as Thomas a Becket, Joan of Arc, and Gilles de Rais as spiritual leaders whose deaths were ritually imposed.
Truly a classic work of anthropology, and written in a clear, accessible style that anyone can enjoy, The God of the Witches forces us to reevaluate our thoughts about an ancient and vital religion.