Trials of the Moon

2010 Briar Books

The ‘creation myths’ of modern witchcraft and Paganism were decisively toppled at the turn of this century in Ronald Hutton’s celebrated book, Triumph of the Moon. But did Hutton topple more than just myths? Are some truths also hidden in the rubble? Ben Whitmore has retraced many of Hutton’s steps, discovering numerous errors and oversights, and he now suggests that the truth may be very different to what Hutton has led us to believe. Far from dying out centuries ago, paganism and witchcraft remained tenacious and widespread, and may well have survived to the present day.
Drawing on a wealth of scholarly material, Whitmore demonstrates that the field of Pagan history is anything but barren ground — it is rich and fertile, and we have barely begun to cultivate it.

Read an excerpt for free — the full text minus front and back matter!


  1. Robert Mathiesen (22/11/2010) pointed out that I had mischaracterised a document of Charles Leland’s: I described it as “Leland’s transcription from the original [Italian] manuscript” (p. 38), but it was in fact the handwritten copy of Aradia for publication, containing only brief Italian passages, which seem to be taken from a manuscript in Italian.
  2. Max Dashu (21/1/2011) points out that the prayer to Earth from a 12th-century Old English herbal is probably based on a Graeco-Roman stylistic model rather than native folk religion. My wording implied a native origin (p. 23).
  3. Ronald Hutton wrote two lengthy responses to my book, in “Writing the History of Witchcraft: A Personal View” (May 2011) and “Revisionism and Counter-Revisionism in Pagan History” (Jan 2013), both in The Pomegranate journal. My response is here.
  4. Peg Aloi (May 2011) gave a formal review of my book in The Pomegranate. I respond to her several points here.