Leo Ruickbie

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Leo Ruickbie
Alma materKing's College, London
Years active2004–present
Spouse(s)Antje Bosselmann-Ruickbie

Leo Ruickbie is a British historian and sociologist of religion, specializing in paranormal beliefs, magic, witchcraft and Wicca. He is the author of several books, beginning with Witchcraft Out of the Shadows,[1] a 2004 publication outlining the history of witchcraft from ancient Greece until the modern day. Ruickbie was born in Scotland and took a master's degree in Sociology and Religion at the University of Lancaster. He then studied at King's College London and was an awarded a PhD for his thesis entitled The Re-Enchanters: Theorising Re-Enchantment and Testing for its Presence in Modern Witchcraft.[2][3][4] On Samhain 2007 he launched Open Source Wicca, a project inspired by the open-source software movement aimed at making the founding texts of Wicca more readily available by releasing them under a Creative Commons licence.[5] In 2008 and 2009 he exhibited on the subject of witchcraft in France.[6][7] He is also a member of the Parapsychological Association,[8] the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism,[9] is on the committee of the Gesellschaft für Anomalistik[10] and is an elected member of the Royal Historical Society.[11] He is the current editor of the Paranormal Review, the magazine of the Society for Psychical Research.[12]



Witchcraft Out of the Shadows (2004)[edit]

Witchcraft Out of the Shadows begins with a survey of historical influences from classical times, northern European paganism, and medieval and early modern Europe. It then describes the roots of modern neopagan witchcraft in groups such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and individuals such as Aleister Crowley and Doreen Valiente. Particularly important is the critical analysis of the claims made by Gerald Gardner about Wicca, as well as a detailed discussion of the liturgical content of Gardner's Ye Bok of Ye Art Magical and its sources.

The final part of the book is an overview of modern neo-pagan witchcraft belief and practice, drawing principally on Ruickbie's own doctoral research. Using both original research and secondary analysis of a broad range of anthropological and sociological findings, Ruickbie gives estimates for the numbers of people involved in neo-pagan witchcraft in the UK, their age, gender and income distribution. He also asked participants in his own research about the nature of their religious experience, their relationship with the gods, their practice of magic and their beliefs about its effects.

Witchcraft Out of the Shadows was listed under 'Further Reading' in Owen Davies' 2009 book Grimoires: A History of Magic Books.

The Re-Enchanters (2005)[edit]

The Re-Enchanters: Theorising Re-Enchantment and Testing for its Presence in Modern Witchcraft is a sociological analysis of modern witchcraft (including Wicca) that builds a theory of re-enchantment using Max Weber's famous disenchantment hypothesis and then tests this using a sample group drawn primarily from practitioners of modern witchcraft and other forms of contemporary paganism.[13][14]

Open Source Wicca: The Gardnerian Tradition (2007)[edit]

Original ritual texts of the Wiccan Gardnerian Tradition from 1949 to 1961, released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike licence similar to that which is used in the open-source software community.

Faustus: The Life and Times of a Renaissance Magician (2009)[edit]

Biography of Faustus (aka Faust) published by The History Press presents new information on the life and death of Faustus. Pagan Dawn magazine said of the book: 'Leo Ruickbie's solid tome does something unexpected. It rehabilitates someone with one of the worst reputations in history; Georgius Sabellicus Faustus Jnr, better known as Faust'.[15]

A Brief Guide to the Supernatural (2012)[edit]

An introduction to supernatural phenomena, beliefs and experiences published by Constable & Robinson.[16]

A Brief Guide to Ghost Hunting (2013)[edit]

A detailed examination of the history and practice of ghost hunting also published by Constable & Robinson. Reviewing the book for the Magonia Review of Books, Peter Rogerson called it 'comprehensive and remarkable good value for the price', adding that 'this is an interesting and useful book one can recommend to ghost hunters and psychical researchers'.[17] It is recommended reading by the Chairman of the Ghost Club and Rosemary Ellen Guiley.[18]

The Impossible Zoo: An Encyclopedia of Fabulous Beasts and Mythical Monsters (2016)[edit]

From the publisher's website: "The Impossible Zoo is a biology of the supernatural - a study of the life of things that never lived. This world of mermaids and unicorns, now confined to fantasy, but once believed to exist, is a world of the imagination that still affects us today. Wonderfully illustrated throughout, it also provides sources as a guide to further study and exploration." It is recommended by Dr Karl Shuker and Revd Lionel Fanthorpe, FRSA, author and President of the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena.[19] The book has been translated into Estonian and is published by Tänapäev.[20]

Angels in the Trenches: Spiritualism, Superstition and the Supernatural During the First World War (2018)[edit]

A narrative history of the First World War examing paranormal beliefs and experiences both on the Home Front and the Frontline. Published by Robinson, an imprint of Little, Brown for the Centenary of the Armistice in November 2018.[21]


  • 'Weber and the Witches: Sociological Theory and Modern Witchcraft', JASANAS, 2 (February 2006), 116–130.
  • 'Is it Time to Sell Your Soul?', Pagan Dawn, 171, (Beltane 2009), 22–23.
  • 'Haiti's "Devil Pact"', Paranormal, 46 (April 2010), 10.
  • 'Sympathy from the Devil', Paranormal, 49 (July 2010), 56–59.
  • 'Talk of the Devil: Part 1', Paranormal, 51 (September 2010), 28–33.
  • 'Talk of the Devil: Part 2', Paranormal, 52 (October 2010), 34–39.
  • 'Child Witches: From Imaginary Cannibalism to Ritual Abuse', Paranthropology, 3.3 (July 2012), pp. 13–21.


La Sorcellerie en France[edit]

This public exhibition explored the history of witchcraft in France with a special focus on the Ardennes region. In a series of highly illustrated panels it covered topics such as what is witchcraft, where was witchcraft to be found, the Knights Templar, Joan of Arc, Gilles de Rais, the legal and theoretical writers on demonology, famous demonic possession cases, legends of the Ardennes, witch trials in the Ardennes, plants used in witchcraft and stones (precious and semi-precious) used in magic, popular superstitions like the horseshoe and Wicca.[22]

It was held at the following locations:


Ruickbie has appeared in two episodes of Mysteries at the Castle, Season 3:

3.7: "Prince's Plight; Mad King Ludwig; Falling for Love". Here he talked about Dunrobin Castle, Scotland, said to be haunted by the ghost of 'Lady Margaret'

3.9: "Deadliest Chess Game; Gustav III Assassination; Shot in the Heart", in which he presented Ruthven Barracks, Scotland, where Alexander Stewart, Earl of Buchan was said to have played chess with the Devil.[26]

He also appeared in one episode of Mysteries at the Castle, Season 2:

2.3: "Faust; Pirate Queen; First Versailles".[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ruickbie, Leo (2004). Witchcraft Out Of The Shadows A Complete History. Robert Hale. ISBN 978-0-7090-7567-7.
  2. ^ Selig, Martina, Forum Gelb, October 2006
  3. ^ Personal biographical information on WICA website, accessed 27 May 2007. Archived 3 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Michelot, Luc, 'C’est pas sorcier', Les Ardennes en Marche, April 2008.
  5. ^ Open Source Wicca project page, accessed 4 November 2007. Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ 'Mouzon: Les sorcières s'invitent au colombier', L'Ardennais, 19 juin 2008
  7. ^ a b Un expert en sorcellerie partage son savoir, L'Ardennais, 17 février 2009. Archived 27 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ http://www.parapsych.org/users/leor/profile.aspx, accessed 12 February 2014 Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ http://www.esswe.org/#members/843/index.html, accessed 12 February 2014. Archived 31 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Die Gremien der Gesellschaft für Anomalistik, accessed 17 April 2014 Archived 19 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ RHS Members, accessed 24 June 2019
  12. ^ Paranormal Review: The Magazine of the Society for Psychical Research, accessed 29 November 2014 Archived 5 December 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Ruickbie, Leo, 'Weber and the Witches: Sociological Theory and Modern Witchcraft'. JASANAS, 2 (February 2006)
  14. ^ Blain, Jenny, and Robert J. Wallis, Sacred Sites -- Contested Rites, Sussex Academic Press, 2007 p.26
  15. ^ Pagan Dawn, no. 171, Beltane 2009, p. 48.
  16. ^ accessed 12 December 2011 Archived 3 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Peter Rogerson, 'Good Ghost Guide', http://pelicanist.blogspot.de/2013/10/good-ghost-guide.html, accessed 14 February 2014 Archived 22 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ accessed 22 January 2014 Archived 3 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ The Impossible Zoo accessed 25 November 2016
  20. ^ The Impossible Zoo, Estonian edition accessed 9 November 2017
  21. ^ Angels in the Trenches Little, Brown website, accessed 4 March 2019.
  22. ^ 25 mai 2008 Archived 29 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ 25 mai 2008 Archived 28 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ Mouzon: Les sorcières s'invitent au colombier, L'Ardennais, 19 juin 2008 Archived 19 July 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ 'Monday 11 August to Sunday 17 August 2008', Goingoutinfrance.co.uk, retrieved 12-08-08.
  26. ^ 'Dr Leo Ruickbie appears on 'Mysteries at the Castle' television programme', http://psychical62.rssing.com/chan-41384908/all_p4.html, accessed 26 October 2016.
  27. ^ 'Faust; Pirate Queen; First Versailles', https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4568170/, accessed 24 June 2019.

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