When I tell people that I research witchcraft, I am often asked whether people really believed in witchcraft. I like to pause when someone asks this, because there is a good answer to this question, and a true answer.
The good answer, the one that people want to hear, is the simple one: Yes, people believed in witches! People still believe in witches! This is a good answer because – whatever our own beliefs and uncertainties – it allows us to take a position. For many people, this is the entry-point into a discussion about how different the worldviews of other cultures and other times are from our own. For others, it is an opportunity to discuss strange experiences, to talk about the possibility that there is ‘something in it’, after all.
The true answer does not work as well in social situations.
It is truer – I think – to…
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