sourcebook series:  discoverie of witchcraft

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Sourcebook Series:
Reginald Scot's 'Discoverie of Witchcraft'
taught by Dr. Alexander Cummins

This class is not currently being offered live. If you'd like to purchase the recordings of the most recent class, please feel free to purchase them below and after signing and returning the agreement, you will receive all the links and can communicate directly with the instructor should you have quesitons.

Upon purchase, you will be contacted via email to complete regristration, and to receive necessary further information. Make sure to enter your preferred email address at checkout.


$150.00 Sourcebook Series: Discoverie of Witchcraft




The title page of the 1665 edition of
Reginald Scot's 'Discoverie of Witchcraft'

Reginald Scot's 'Discoverie of Witchcraft'- exposé or grimoire? Despite being written in an effort to discredit belief in magic as merely superstitious, Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft became an incredibly popular text with the very people Scot was trying to warn his readership about: magical practitioners!

The book became a staple in the modest libraries of folk magicians, and recent scholarship has demonstrated that this tome was in fact popularly received as 'a treasure trove of magical information, providing spells, Catholic prayers, exorcisms, charms, talismans, and rituals on how to communicate with angels, demons, and the spirits of the dead'. One historian has even gone so far as to suggest that Scot produced what amounted to the first grimoire printed in the English language, and while he did so to prove the worthlessness of its contents he unwittingly ended up democratizing ritual magic rather than undermining it.' It is for these reasons that Dr. Alexander Cummins, will take us through this source of traditional early modern English cunning-craft, tracing those interrelations of text and tradition.

For certainly Scot's 'Discoverie' was used as a spell-book by cunning-folk in England, and made the journey across the ocean to serve the same needs in early British colonies in the Americas. The charms and amulets described in its pages are still found inside walls and under floors of old buildings, highlighting the practical ends to which this tome's contents were put.

In this course we will explore some of these operations: from detailed workings to short spoken and written charms, and from treatises on the nature, behaviour and best working practices of spirits - whether ghosts, fairies, angels, elementals, or devils - to conjuration rites of said spirits. It will also explore some of the dominant early modern ideas and counter-arguments concerning witches, witchcraft, familiar spirits, sorcery, demonic pacts, and the ministrations and ministers of the Devil himself.

Those interested in the history and practice of "black magic" should consider study of this incredibly influential early modern text crucial: not only for its contents, which detail a variety of rituals for summoning and dispatching the shades of the dead to do one's bidding, but also as itself a nigromantic work which turned many readers into practitioners despite its own warnings and the author's intention.


Detail of the 1665 edition of
Reginald Scot's 'Discoverie of Witchcraft'

The course will be supported by close reading of scans of the 1584 and 1665 editions of Scot's Discoverie, along with other contextualising documents - including both historian's accounts and other contemporaneous primary sources.

Wolf & Goat's
Sourcebook Series is an on-going effort to examine key texts of magic and encourage dialog around such texts through fluency in their contents and contexts.
Discoverie is the first offering in this series.

The cours
e is taught by
Dr. Alexander Cummins, who by day is a professional diviner, consultant sorcerer, and mild-mannered historian of early modern magic (seriously, he has a doctorate in the history of English magic) and by night finds himself conjuring shades, demons and the occasional angel.

If you have any questions, please email