1st Edition

Magic, Witchcraft, and Ghosts in the Enlightenment

Edited By Michael R. Lynn Copyright 2022
    214 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    214 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Magic, Witchcraft, and Ghosts in the Enlightenment argues for the centrality of magical practices and ideas throughout the long eighteenth century.

    Although the hunt for witches in Europe declined precipitously after 1650, and the intellectual justification for natural magic came under fire by 1700, belief in magic among the general population did not come to a sudden stop. The philosophes continued to take aim at magical practices, alongside religion, as examples of superstitions that an enlightened age needed to put behind them. In addition to a continuity of beliefs and practices, the eighteenth century also saw improvement and innovation in magical ideas, the understanding of ghosts, and attitudes toward witchcraft. The volume takes a broad geographical approach and includes essays focusing on Great Britain (England and Ireland), France, Germany, and Hungary. It also takes a wide approach to the subject and includes essays on astrology, alchemy, witchcraft, cunning folk, ghosts, treasure hunters, and purveyors of magic.

    With a broad chronological scope that ranges from the end of the seventeenth century to the early nineteenth century, this volume is useful for undergraduates, postgraduates, scholars, and those with a general interest in magic, witchcraft, and spirits in the Enlightenment.

    Introduction: magic, witchcraft, and ghosts in the age of reason

    Michael R. Lynn

    1. The ghost of the Enlightenment: communication with the dead in Southwestern Germany, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

    Johannes Dillinger

    2. Invisible worlds: magic, spirits, and experience in the early Enlightenment

    Tricia R. Peone

    3. Priests in the storm: an approach on changes in ritual attitudes in eighteenth-century Hungary

    Dániel Bárth

    4. East Anglian folk magic, folklore, and witchery in the age of reason

    Pádraig Lawlor

    5. Jean-Baptiste Alliette and the Ecole de Magie in late-eighteenth century Paris

    Michael R. Lynn

    6. Fortune telling, culture, law, and gender in Ireland, c.1691–1840

    Andrew Sneddon

    7. A scientist at astrology’s funeral: Richard Saunder and the Apollo Anglicanus

    William E. Burns

    8. Natural magic, hermeticism, and skepticism: orientalizing chemical curiosity in eighteenth-century France

    Stéphane Van Damme

    9. Afterword

    Jonathan Barry


    Michael R. Lynn is Professor of History at Purdue University Northwest. He has published Popular Science and Public Opinion in Eighteenth-Century France (2006), The Sublime Invention: Ballooning in Europe, 17831820 (2010), and "The Curious Science: Chiromancy in Early Modern France" (2018). He is currently working on a monograph analyzing the culture and practice of divination in Enlightenment France.

    ‘The shadow side of the Enlightenment is illuminated in this fascinating collection of studies on the survival of magical beliefs and practices into the 18th C., from German ghosts, Hungarian exorcisms, and Irish fortune tellers to natural magic, astrology and a proposed Ecole de magie for Paris in the age of Voltaire.’

    Mary O'Neil, University of Washington, US