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10 Terrifying Reads for Halloween!
Halloween is just around the corner and we have scary stories and creepy reads for all you ghosts and goblins to enjoy!
Medieval Ghost Stories
Author: Andrew Joynes
Publisher: BOYE6 (October 19, 2006)
Stories of restless spirits returning from the afterlife are as old as storytelling. In medieval Europe ghosts, nightstalkers and unearthly visitors from parallel worlds had been in circulation since before the coming of Christianity. Here is a collection of ghostly encounters from medieval romances, monastic chronicles, sagas and heroic poetry. These tales bore a peculiar freight of spooks and spirituality which can still make the hair stand on end.
Look at the story of Richard Rowntree’s stillborn child, glimpsed by his father tangled in swaddling clothes on the road to Santiago, or the sly habits of water sprites resting as golden rings on the surface of the river, just out of reach. The writer and broadcaster Andrew Joynes brings together a vivid selection of these tales, with a thoughtful commentary that puts them in context and lays bare the layers of meaning in them.
An Examen of Witches
Author: Henry Boguet
Publisher: Dover Publications (September 22, 2009)
Compiled in the late sixteenth century by the chief justice who served as France’s most ruthless inquisitor, this is the definitive witch-hunter’s handbook. It recounts the trial proceedings and accusations—making pacts with the devil, shape-shifting, and other practices of sorcery—for which countless social outcasts were tortured and condemned.
Between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, tens of thousands of Europeans were accused of witchcraft, tortured, and executed. This volume, based on Chief Justice Henry Boguet’s extensive courtroom experiences, was published in 1603. Contemporary theologians and canonists hailed it as an excellent and timely treatise. The well-known, modern-day occult expert Montague Summers edited this edition and provides an informative introduction. Summers praises the author as “vivid and graphic in his details, keenly logical in his arguments, and elegant in his expressions.” Occult and Wiccan scholars will find Boguet’s testament an indispensable source of historic information.
The Malleus Maleficarum and the Construction of Witchcraft
Author: Hans Peter Broedel
Publisher: Manchester University Press (December 1, 2003)
What was witchcraft? Were witches real? How should witches be identified? How should they be judged? Towards the end of the middle ages these were new questions, without answers hallowed by time and authority. Between 1430 and 1500, a number of learned “witch-theorists” attempted to provide the answers, and of these perhaps the most famous are the Dominican inquisitors Heinrich Institoris and Jacob Sprenger, the authors of the Malleus Maleficarum, The Hammer of Witches.
This, the first book-length study of the Malleus in English, provides students and scholars with an introduction to this text and to the conceptual world of its authors. Ultimately, this book argues that although the Malleus was a highly idiosyncratic text, with a view of witches very different from that of competing authors, its arguments were powerfully compelling and so remained influential long after alternatives were forgotten.
Battling Demons: Witchcraft, Heresy, and Reform in the Late Middle Ages (Magic in History)
Author: Michael D. Bailey
Publisher: Penn State University Press (October 18, 2002)
The fifteenth century is more than any other the century of the persecution of witches. So wrote Johan Huizinga more than eighty years ago in his classic Autumn of the Middle Ages. Although Huizinga was correct in his observation, modern readers have tended to focus on the more spectacular witch-hunts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Nevertheless, it was during the late Middle Ages that the full stereotype of demonic witchcraft developed in Europe, and this is the subject of Battling Demons.
At the heart of the story is Johannes Nider (d. 1438), a Dominican theologian and reformer who alternately persecuted heretics and negotiated with them—a man who was by far the most important church authority to write on witchcraft in the early fifteenth century. Nider was a major source for the infamous Malleus maleficarum, or Hammer of Witches (1486), the manual of choice for witch-hunters in late medieval Europe. Today Nider’s reputation rests squarely on his witchcraft writings, but in his own day he was better known as a leader of the reform movement within the Dominican order and as a writer of important tracts on numerous other aspects of late medieval religiosity, including heresy and lay piety. Battling Demons places Nider in this wider context, showing that for late medieval thinkers, witchcraft was one facet of a much larger crisis plaguing Christian society.
As the only English-language study to focus exclusively on the rise of witchcraft in the early fifteenth century, Battling Demons will be important to students and scholars of the history of magic and witchcraft and medieval religious history.
Author: Damien Kempf and Maria L. Gilbert
Publisher: British Library (May 15, 2015)
The medieval world was teeming with monsters–on the edges of manuscript pages, on the edges of maps, not to mention crowding in from all sides of the known world. Believed to dwell in exotic, remote areas, these inexplicable parts of God’s creation aroused fear, curiosity, and wonder in equal measures. Powerfully captured in the illustrations that filled bestiaries, travel books, and even Bibles and devotional works, these misshapen brutes continue to delight audiences today with their vitality and humor.
Filled with satyrs, sea creatures, griffins, dragons, and devils, Medieval Monsters is a cornucopia of illustrations from medieval manuscripts that are at once fascinating, grotesque, and amusing. This successor to the British Library’s Medieval Cats and Medieval Dogs provides an accessible and informative guide to bewitching demons, blemmyae, Cyclops, and multi-headed beasts of all sorts. Over one hundred wondrous and terrifying images show how strange creatures sparked artists’ imaginations to incredible heights, while offering fascinating insights into the medieval mind.
The Vampire in Lore and Legend
Author: Montague Summers
Publisher: Dover Publications (August 28, 2001)
“Throughout the whole vast shadowy world of ghosts and demons there is no figure so terrible, no figure so dreaded and abhorred, yet [looked upon] with such fearful fascination, as the vampire, who is himself neither ghost nor demon, but yet who partakes the dark natures and possesses the mysterious and terrible qualities of both.”
So begins this riveting study by one of the foremost authorities on witchcraft and occult phenomena. An indefatigable researcher, Summers explores the presence of vampires in Greek and Roman lore, in England and Ireland during Anglo-Saxon times, in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Romania, and Bulgaria, even in modern Greece. More than just a collection of library lore, however, this detailed examination of the history of vampirism in Europe also includes anecdotes and firsthand accounts gathered by the author from peasants in places where belief in vampires was still common.
A fascinating, sometimes terrifying book, The Vampire in Lore and Legend is a “mine of out-of-the-way information full of unspeakable tales,” writes The New York Times; and according to Outlook, “a fascinating inquiry into the vampire legend . a storehouse of curious and interesting lore.” Of great interest to any enthusiast of the supernatural and the occult, this book will appeal as well to the legions of general readers captivated by this ancient myth.
Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies: Shapeshifters and Astral Doubles in the Middle Ages
Author: Claude Lecouteaux
Publisher: Inner Traditions; 1 edition (August 23, 2011)
Monsters, werewolves, witches, and fairies remain a strong presence in our stories and dreams. But as Claude Lecouteux shows, their roots go far deeper than their appearance in medieval folklore; they are survivors of a much older belief system that predates Christianity and was widespread over Western Europe. Through his extensive analysis of Germano-Scandinavian legends, as well as those from other areas of Europe, Lecouteux has uncovered an almost forgotten religious concept: that every individual owns three souls and that one of these souls, the Double, can—in animal or human form—leave the physical body while in sleep or a trance, journey where it chooses, then reenter its physical body. While there were many who experienced this phenomenon involuntarily, there were others—those who attracted the unwelcome persecution of the Church—who were able to provoke it at will: witches.
In a thorough excavation of the medieval soul, Claude Lecouteux reveals the origin and significance of this belief in the Double, and follows its transforming features through the ages. He shows that far from being fantasy or vague superstition, fairies, witches, and werewolves all testify to a consistent ancient vision of our world and the world beyond.
Ghosts in the Middle Ages: The Living and the Dead in Medieval Society
Author: Jean-Claude Schmitt
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (December 1, 1999)
Through this vivid study, Jean-Claude Schmitt examines medieval religious culture and the significance of the widespread belief in ghosts, revealing the ways in which the dead and the living related to each other during the middle ages. Schmitt also discusses Augustine’s influence on medieval authors; the link between dreams and autobiographical narratives; and monastic visions and folklore. Including numerous color reproductions of ghosts and ghostly trappings, this book presents a unique and intriguing look at medieval culture.
“Valuable and highly readable. [Ghosts in the Middle Ages] will be of interest to many students of medieval thought and culture, but especially to those seeking a general overview of this particularly conspicuous aspect of the medieval remembrance of the dead.”—Hans Peter Broedel, Medieval Review
“A fascinating study of the growing prevalence of ghost imagery in ecclesiastical and popular writing from the fifth to the fifteenth century.”—Choice
The White Devil: The Werewolf in European Culture
Author: Matthew Beresford
Publisher: Reaktion Books (November 15, 2013)
From Ovid’s Lycaon to Professor Lupin, from Teen Wolf to An American Werewolf in Paris, the lycanthrope, or werewolf, comes to us frequently on the page and the silver screen. These interpretations often display lycanthropy as a curse, with the afflicted person becoming an uncontrollable, feral beast during every full moon. But this is just one version of the werewolf—its origins can be traced back thousands of years to early prehistory, and everything from Iron Age bog bodies and Roman gods to people such as Joan of Arc, Adolf Hitler, and Sigmund Freud feature in its story. Exploring the role of this odd assortment of ideas and people in the myth, The White Devil tracks the development of the werewolf from its birth to the present day, seeking to understand why the wolf curse continues to hold a firm grip on the modern imagination.
Combining early death and burial rites, mythology, folklore, archaeological evidence, and local superstitions, Matthew Beresford explains that the werewolf has long been present in the beliefs and mythology of the many cultures of Europe. He examines prehistoric wolf cults, the use of the wolf as a symbol of ancient Rome, medieval werewolf executions, and the eradication of wolves by authorities in England during the Anglo-Saxon period. He also surveys werewolf trials, medical explanations, and alleged sightings, as well as the instances in which lycanthropes appear in literature and film. With sixty illustrations of these often terrifying—but sometimes noble—beasts, The White Devil offers a new understanding of the survival of the werewolf in European culture.
Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History (Middle Ages Series)
Author: Alan Charles Kors
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press; 2nd edition (November 29, 2000)
The highly-acclaimed first edition of this book chronicled the rise and fall of witchcraft in Europe between the twelfth and the end of the seventeenth centuries. Now greatly expanded, the classic anthology of contemporary texts reexamines the phenomenon of witchcraft, taking into account the remarkable scholarship since the book’s publication almost thirty years ago.
Spanning the period from 400 to 1700, the second edition of Witchcraft in Europe assembles nearly twice as many primary documents as the first, many newly translated, along with new illustrations that trace the development of witch-beliefs from late Mediterranean antiquity through the Enlightenment. Trial records, inquisitors’ reports, eyewitness statements, and witches’ confessions, along with striking contemporary illustrations depicting the career of the Devil and his works, testify to the hundreds of years of terror that enslaved an entire continent.
Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Thomas Hobbes, and other thinkers are quoted at length in order to determine the intellectual, perceptual, and legal processes by which “folklore” was transformed into systematic demonology and persecution. Together with explanatory notes, introductory essays—which have been revised to reflect current research—and a new bibliography, the documents gathered in Witchcraft in Europe vividly illumine the dark side of the European mind.