One of the fundamental topics that tends to be overlooked when discovering witchcraft is its history, how it evolved, where it came from and how it became what we know today. I admit I wasn’t the exception, but I’m happy to say that this has changed, as I hope it does for other witches as well when they decide this a serious path for them. When I saw Witchcraft: A Secret History, by Michael Streeter, I decided to give it a try and see what I could discover, which wasn’t much, to be honest.
The book presents a Eurocentric perception of Witchcraft, and traces its roots through this continent, explaining how it evolved, changed and was perceived like in different times, surviving during the darkest episodes of human development. I liked the simple style, how easy to understand it was and that it explained everything in with common language. However, I didn’t see any “secret” as the title and synopsis implied.
Mr. Streeter didn’t present anything new in this book, no matter how useful it is to have all the information summarized in a single, light tome. I as expecting more explanations, but you can get most of this reading in Wikipedia and watching the History Channel documentary about witches. However, I do like that Witchcraft: A Secret History explained clearly that witches were not always women, how and why the Catholic Church manipulated society and shifted the perception of witches and witchcraft with ease.
I lost interest at some point after the first or second chapter, but resumed shortly after since it is a short book, and I also liked that about it. History tends to be a tedious matter because of how long and detail it is treated in other books, but Michael Streeter did a light reading that could be great for young audiences or anyone who needs a basic knowledge on the matter. I’d be a little concerned, though, about the cover matter, since it is not attractive for young readers.
Visually appealing, I also liked the pictures, the photos and illustrations included in Witchcraft: A Secret History. They make the reading more interesting and give a (pardon the pun, or not) clear picture of how witchcraft was perceived during several time periods. I love these kind of images because of their historical meaning, and to have so many of them makes me like this book a bit more; you get a page of text and one for an image during most of the reading.
There are also short sections about the tools, elements and concepts related to witchcraft. Michael Streeter included these bits of information almost always at the end of the chapters, as if to give the reader a rest between the episodes he was exploring. Some may understandably say that these sections blur the line between Wicca and Witchcraft, but I think the difference is clear enough, at least in my case; it didn’t bother me to refresh said concepts and ideas either.
I would recommend this book for younger readers because of its style and structure. Easy to follow, filled with historical pictures and photographs to make it a more interesting reading, and although I’m not sure how much new material could others could find in Witchcraft: A Secret History, by Michael Streeter, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it, but again, there is no secret to be found in this book.
Print Length: 256 pages
Publisher: White Lion Publishing (March 3, 2020)
Publishing Date: March 3, 2020
About the author:
Michael Streeter is a British writer and TV researcher with over 30 years‘ experience in national newspaper journalism. A former editor for the Scottish Daily Express, he has written and researched books and documentaries on subjects as diverse as the weather, medieval crime, and the occult.
About the reviewer:
Bader Saab is a digital journalist and solitary, eclectic witch interested in the darker side of magic and divination. Besides reading and writing, Bader also enjoys studying the Gothic subculture, which he belongs to, learning new languages and making endless lists of movies, music and the like. He can be found on Instagram as @saab.bader.