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Witchcraft and the Black Art

Wickwar brings commonsense and rational thought to a subject which is often unnecessarily sensationalized. He ventures to a degree into the psycho-analytical sphere, but only inasmuch as to provide explanations for why people acted as they did. This is combined with excellent historical records and a simple, clean and readable journey through the subject from ancient through the ages. Much is gruesome and truly horrible, but at no time does he attempt to be salacious. The book is a thoroughly good read and provides a good foundation for any general reader interested in the subject. As to whether or not there is any un-explained validity to the black art, he wisely does not enter into the debate and it seems his views are that it is all nonsense. The one area where he might have elaborated more on is the matter of whether or not many of those accused truly believed in what they were doing? Wickwar attempted, and succeeded, in producing a rational text without being over dramatic. He was one of the first to write clearly and unemotionally on a subject which continued to hold some excitement, and possibly some on-going belief. His approach was analytical and scientific, but the result of his work is not a hard-to-read jargon ridden tome, but instead is an easily readable text written in a clear and matter-of-fact manner.
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Table of Contents

New Introduction Foreword 1. Witchcraft: A Primitive Cult 2. Initiation and Ceremony 3. Spells, Evil Eye, and Possession 4. Practical Witchcraft 5. Witchcraft on the Continent 6. Werewolves and Vampires 7. Blood and Fire in England 8. Demons and Mascots 9. Witch-hunting Cameos 10. A Typical English Witch-Trial 11. Witchcraft in America 12. Witchcraft Phantasmagoria 13. A Typical Witch-Tract 14. The Last Phase Appendix

About the Author

John William Wickwar is an elusive character and rarely appears in any records. He was born in the London in 1871 and appears to have started his working career as bookseller's assistant. In 1917 he joined the Folklore Society and was also a Member of the British Sciences Guild. This latter organisation was founded in 1905 for the purpose of winning the British people to 'the necessity of applying the methods of science to all branches of endeavour, and thus to further the progress and increase the welfare of the Empire'. Now nearly forgotten, the British Science Guild was to be among the most visible 'ginger groups' in British science during the first half of the century. Foreshadowing a world of parliamentary lobbies, public interest groups, and 'think tanks', the Guild was created to foster public appreciation of the role of science and the advantage of applying the methods of scientific enquiry, the study of cause and effect, in affairs of every kind. For just twenty years, under the banner of 'imperial efficiency', it campaigned for the application of scientific expertise to national and imperial policy, before it was ultimately forced to wind up its affairs in 1936, and combine with the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Its tempestuous history was not without achievements. Yet, those achievements were insufficient to change public opinion on the scale it attempted. John William Wickwar was an enthusiastic member and in addition to Witchcraft and the Black Art he wrote at least two other books; The Ghost World: its Realities, Apparitions & Spooks and Dreams: What They Are and What They Mean.

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