Liz Williams – Miracles of Our Own Making: A History of Paganism

Liz Williams – Reaktion Books – £15.95

In her discussion of Stonehenge, Liz Williams writes: “There is a legend that Merlin simply flew the entire circle from Ireland, which I think we can rule out.” This is typical of her approach. She is not embarrassed by the unprovable, but has a robust attitude to the wilder flights of fancy.

Thus, she makes judicious assessments of, for instance, claims that present magic accesses ancient knowledge (weak), and considers what we can actually know about druidic practices (not much for sure), but she does find the roots and traces of pre-christian spirituality in a culture which didn’t take notes.

We are on much firmer ground when it comes to witchcraft, wicca and cunning folk, and Liz is able to tidy up Tim’s confusion between them.

And she is brilliant and entertaining on more recent expressions of paganism and magic, touching on Aleister Crowley, The Golden Dawn, Madame Blavatsky, the Hellfire Club and so on, not to mention Harry Potter and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

About Johnny Mindlin

Johnny Mindlin, the producer, spent 10 years in high-end speech radio, producing book programmes, entertainment / review shows and politics/discussion shows. Tim Haigh is a radio presenter and broadcaster and books reviewer. He also writes for national papers on books and literature.
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