Miracles of Our Own Making: A History of Paganism (Paperback)
A bewitching and authoritative historical overview of magic in the British Isles, from the ancient peoples of Britain to the rich and cosmopolitan landscape of contemporary paganism.
“An absolute must for anyone interested in the development of paganism in the modern world. I cannot recommend this book enough.”—Janet Farrar, coauthor of A Witches’ Bible
“At last, we have a history of British Paganism written from the inside, by somebody who not only has a good knowledge of the sources, but explicitly understands how Pagans and magicians think.”—Ronald Hutton, author of The Triumph of the Moon and The Witch
What do we mean by “paganism”—druids, witches, and occult rituals? Healing charms and forbidden knowledge? Miracles of Our Own Making is a historical overview of pagan magic in the British Isles, from the ancient peoples of Britain to the rich and cosmopolitan landscape of contemporary paganism. Exploring the beliefs of the druids, Anglo-Saxons, and Vikings, as well as Elizabethan Court alchemy and witch trials, we encounter grimoires, ceremonial magic, and the Romantic revival of arcane deities. The influential and well-known—the Golden Dawn, Wicca, and figures such as Aleister Crowley—are considered alongside the everyday “cunning folk” who formed the magical fabric of previous centuries. Ranging widely across literature, art, science, and beyond, Liz Williams debunks many of the prevailing myths surrounding magical practice, past and present, while offering a rigorously researched and highly accessible account of what it means to be a pagan today.
About the Author
Liz Williams holds a PhD in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Cambridge and is a widely published writer and journalist. She lives in Glastonbury, where she co-owns a witchcraft shop, and where she also lectures in creative writing.
"Miracles of Our Own Making is, in certain respects, less a history and more an inside job of sorts by a serious practitioner who prefers authenticity to mystical pantomime. As Williams shows, there is no need for the son et lumière of fabrication; the evolution of magic is so compellingly strange and beautiful in its truth that, even in these improbable times, it bewitches without effort."
"[An] engaging and often entertaining history of all strands of paganism and magic, taking in witchcraft, shamanism, Druidry, heathenry, and more. The author is a 'level-headed' journalist, SF author, and practicing witch, who nevertheless has zero tolerance for woo-woo, a fact which makes this particularly accessible."
"Williams brings her own lively curiosity and frame of reference to the work—one of the book's strengths is that it is so inviting. . . . History should engage with readers intelligently, accurately, and respectfully. This is an inventive, authoritative, and lively history of paganism and magic, with a practical twist. It deserves a wide readership."
— Marion Gibson
"A witty and clear-sighted account of paganism and magic in Britain over the past two-thousand years. Where evidence is lacking, Williams doesn't speculate. In fact, she sets out to 'debunk some of the prevailing myths.' . . . Altogether this is an informative and entertaining roundup."
— Fortean Times
"The author writes in an easy, fluid way, avoiding jargon—or explaining it when it is unavoidable, steering well clear of academic complexity for its own sake, and happy to insert a humorous touch where appropriate. . . . For someone with a sympathetic interest in the topic who wants to understand it more fully, I think it would be hard to find a better guide."
— Magonia Review of Books
“This is a book that should be on every pagan's bookshelf—highly recommended!”
— Facing North
"The book is engagingly written, and I can see it gaining a wide readership in modern Pagan circles."
— Ethan Doyle White
“At last, we have a history of British Paganism written from the inside, by somebody who not only has a good knowledge of the sources, but explicitly understands how Pagans and magicians think.”
— Ronald Hutton, author of "The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft"
"An absolute must for anyone interested in the development of paganism in the modern world. I cannot recommend this book enough."
— Janet Farrar, coauthor of "A Witches’ Bible"
"Paganism has a mysterious, complicated history. In Miracles of Our Own Making, Williams cheerfully guides her readers through the mists that too often shroud this fascinating topic. With good sense and sound judgment, our amiable guide takes us on a magical journey from the ancient world to the present day. Along the way, she highlights common pitfalls and evaluates how far contemporary paganism is indeed rooted in historical magical traditions. Although primarily focused on Britain, Miracles of Our Own Making is a wide-ranging book. Topics covered include Viking runes, Anglo-Saxon leechcraft, Tarot cards, Hellfire clubs, Druids, the Golden Dawn, and much more. Throughout, Williams eschews unnecessary controversy and avoids unproductive conflict. Instead, she synthesizes a litany of key primary and secondary sources, and does so with tolerance, kindness, and sympathy. Those drawn towards pagan paths will find Miracles of Our OwnMaking a fine overview of the mysterious and complex history of magic."
— Thomas Waters, author of "Cursed Britain: A History of Witchcraft and Black Magic in Modern Times"
"An informative and well-informed history of paganism, sensibly written with both knowledge and sympathy."
— Carolyne Larrington, University of Oxford, author of "The Land of the Green Man"
"In this highly engaging and informative book, Williams shares her wide knowledge of British Paganism in the past and present. From druids to grimoires, and antiquarians to occultists, the book is rich in detail and interesting characters."
— Owen Davies, author of "Grimoires" and editor of "The Oxford Illustrated History of Witchcraft and Magic"