The Witch-Cult in Western Europe/Book reviews/The Periodical

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Review of The Witch-Cult in Western Europe
The Periodical (1921)
From The Periodical, Vol. 8 No. 113 (December 1921), p. 145.


Miss Murray in her remarkable anthropological study The Witch-Cult in Western Europe gives the names of nearly 700 witches, male and female. As regards the women there is an entire absence of Saxon names, Old Testament names are so few in number as to be negligible, Scandinavian names are not found, essentially Puritan names hardly occur, but the great mass of the names fall under eight heads with their dialectical differences: Ann (Annis, Agnes, Annabel); Alice (Alison); Christian (Christen, Cirstine); Elizabeth (Elspet, Isobel, Bessie); Ellen (Elinor, Helen); Joan (Jane, Janet, Jonet) ; Margaret (Marget, Meg, Margorie); Marion (Mary).

The Devil’s names include Abiron, Antecessor, Aspic, Barrebon, Black John, Blackman, Christsunday, Crebas, Daniel the Prophet, Helen Mcbrune, Hou, Iupin, Janicot, Klareanough, Jean Mullin, Leonard, Mamillion, Orthon, Quillet, Robin, Sathan, Simon, Thom Reid, Traisnesac, Tramesabot, Walliman, and William Simpson. Magic words, surprisingly few, include: Benedicite; ‘Thout, tout a tout, tout, throughout and about’; ‘Rentum, Tormentum’; ‘Horse and Hattock, in the Divellis name’; Maikpeblis.

Not the least interesting portion of the book is the appendix on Joan of Arc and Marshall Gilles de Rais. Anatole France has realized that behind Joan there lay some unseen power, which Charles VII feared and from which he unwillingly accepted help. Miss Murray's view is that Joan, such a common witch name, was the rallying-point of the religion—witch-cult—which permeated the lower orders in France as in England. ‘The questions asked by the judges at Joan's trial show that they were well aware of an underlying organization of which they stood in some dread. . . . In comparing the facts elicited at the trial with the Dianic cult, the coincidences are too numerous to be merely accidental.’ Gilles, the chosen escort of Joan, was executed as a witch nine years later, and much that is inexplicable in connexion with him seems simple on Miss Murray's theory.


This work was published before January 1, 1923 and it is anonymous or pseudonymous due to unknown authorship. It is in the public domain in the United States as well as countries and areas where the copyright terms of anonymous or pseudonymous works are 91 years or less since publication.