Cover image for Historical dictionary of witchcraft
Historical dictionary of witchcraft
Bailey, Michael David, 1971-
Publication Information:
Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 2003.
Physical Description:
xlvii, 199 pages ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF1566 .B25 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



The only single-volume, scholarly reference work available on this subject, this dictionary provides reliable information on magic and witchcraft for the entire span of western history, from classical antiquity to modern Wicca. Particular attention is paid to the history of witchcraft in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, the era of the great witch-hunts.

Author Notes

Michael D. Bailey is Visiting Assistant Professor in the department of history at Iowa State University. He is the author of Battling Demons: Witchcraft, Heresy, and Reform in the Late Middle Ages . He has held academic positions at Bethany College, Kansas, at the University of Cincinnati, at the Medieval Institute of the University of Notre Dame, and at Saint Louis University. His principal research interests focus on the history of magic, witchcraft, and superstition in Europe.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

This A-to-Z dictionary focuses almost exclusively on "the historical phenomenon of witchcraft as defined and constructed in Europe during the era of the great witch hunts." Bailey (history, Iowa State Univ.; Battling Demons: Witchcraft, Heresy, and Reform in the Late Middle Ages) concentrates mainly on medieval concepts of witchcraft as shaped by the Christian culture of Western Europe. The introduction examines the history of witchcraft in early times as well as how the concept of witches and witchcraft came to signify deviant behavior and/or malevolence. The entries cover a wide range of historical figures, as well as the folklore, mythology, and theological ideas associated with early witchcraft and witch trials. Bailey's definitions are accessible and objective, but only a few entries touch on witchcraft in the modern world, and the restricted scope makes this work best suited to academic and special collections. Public and school libraries would be better served by Rosemary Ellen Guiley's more comprehensive Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft.-Mimi Davis, Broward Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Lauderdale, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Bailey's dictionary focuses on the historical facts of witchcraft during the era of the European witch hunts, 15th through 18th centuries. He also includes factors that influenced the historical events and beliefs as well as those from other parts of the world such as Africa and the New World. He distinguishes historical witchcraft from the modern practice of witchcraft, often referred to as Wicca. Bailey acknowledges that there is little historical evidence linking the religion of Wicca (which began in 1950s England) with the historical European witch hunts, so he concentrates in the essay, definitions, and excellent bibliography on historical witchcraft rather than Wicca. Introductory chapters, written in clear, accessible prose, situate the witch hunts in the philosophical and religious thinking of their time. But by including many of the key figures and historical events important to Wicca, Bailey may lead readers to draw the conclusion he most wants to dispel: that modern Wicca is an outgrowth of the historical witch hunts. His slim volume courts schizophrenia in attempting to provide definitions for two widely separated topics. ^BSumming Up: Optional. General readers; lower-division undergraduates. G. Wood SUNY College at Cortland