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p. 273. Malicelocked

  • Malcolm Gaskill

Abstract

‘Malice’ argues that, while the Scientific Revolution is credited with ending belief in witchcraft, the Industrial Revolution was equally significant, delivering a liberating prosperity. A life of near-destitution and dependence on capricious fortune helps to explain the social reality of witchcraft. The counter-magical laws of antiquity, like their Dark Age and medieval successors, were not mere superstition or a symbolic defence of religious orthodoxy: they were responding to attempts by ordinary people to wreak havoc using magic. Links between women and witchcraft date back to antiquity. The polarity of gender and the polarity of good and evil were, perhaps unconsciously, aligned. Later, women were considered more susceptible to diabolic temptation.

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