Encyclopedia of Witchcraft

The Western Tradition

by Richard M. Golden, Editor


From Iceland to Russia, witch hunting engulfed Europe, eventually spreading to the New World. Why did Europeans believe witches flew to Sabbats, signed pacts with Satan, practiced cannibalism, and worked evil magic to overthrow Christian society? Why were thousands of people persecuted, tortured, and burned for the crime of diabolical witchcraft?

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Cover image for Encyclopedia of Witchcraft

January 2006


Pages 1238
Volumes 4
Size 8 1/2x11
Topics Geography and World Cultures/Culture
  • Award Winner!




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    Hardcover: £338.00/366,00€/A$563.00

The definitive compilation on witchcraft and witch hunting in the early modern era exploring significant people, places, beliefs, and events.

Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Western Tradition is the definitive reference on the age of witch hunting (approximately 1430–1750), its origins, expansion, and ultimate decline. Incorporating a wealth of recent scholarship in four richly illustrated, alphabetically organized volumes, it offers historians and general readers alike the opportunity to explore the realities behind the legends of witchcraft and witchcraft trials.

Over 170 contributors from 28 nations provide vivid, documented descriptions and analyses of witchcraft trials and locations, folklore and beliefs, magical practices and deities, influential texts, and the full range of players in this extraordinary drama—witchcraft theorists and theologians; historians and authors; judges, clergy, and rulers; the accused; and their persecutors. Concentrating on Europe and the Americas in the early modern era, the work also covers relevant topics from the ancient Near East (including the Hebrew and Christian Bibles), classical antiquity, and the European Middle Ages.


  • Over 750 A–Z signed entries
  • More than 170 contributors include the most distinguished scholars working in the field of witchcraft studies
  • Illustrations and artwork, including prints, drawings, paintings, and maps
  • Extensive end-of-entry references


  • The definitive work on witch hunts and witchcraft in Western civilization
  • Unprecedented topical and geographical scope, ranging across Europe and its New World colonies and covering significant people, places, events, beliefs, practices, and lore
  • Contributors include the most distinguished scholars working in the field of witchcraft studies
  • Reflects the tremendous recent surge in witchcraft scholarship
Author Info

Richard M. Golden is professor of history and director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of North Texas, Denton, TX. He can be reached via email at



"[L]arger public libraries with a strong interest in historical witchcraft will want to consider adding this set. Academic libraries with early modern history collections or interest in witchcraft as a social and political phenomenon will also find the encyclopedia very useful."Booklist

"Compared to other works on witchcraft . . . the Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Western Tradition provides significantly more entries . . . and greater coverage. . . . Due to the ongoing interest in witchcraft and occult sciences, this encyclopedia will be a welcome purchase in most medium-sized and larger academic and public libraries. For libraries serving religious institutions and seminaries, it is a required purchase since it provides a balanced, historically based discussion of witchcraft in the Western world."Reference & User Services Quarterly

"The more than 700 entries by over 250 scholars are well written, each including cross-references and bibliographies. . . . Recommended. All collections, particularly those supporting history, religious studies, and gender studies at the lower undergraduate level and above."Choice

"Richard Golden successfully makes the scholarship on witchcraft accessible to high school students. . . . It offers a scholarly yet accessible approach to a captivating subject that has endured for centuries. Highly recommended."Library Media Connection


Roland H. Bainton Prize for Best Reference Book on the Early Modern Period — Sixteenth Century Society and Conference

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