Satanism and Witchcraft (book)

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Illustration by Martin van Maële, of a Witches' Sabbath, in the 1911 edition of La Sorcière, by Jules Michelet

Satanism and Witchcraft (originally La Sorcière) is a book by Jules Michelet on the history of witchcraft that was published originally in French in 1862.


The first English translation was published in London in 1863.[1]


According to Michelet, medieval witchcraft was an act of popular rebellion against the oppression of feudalism and the Roman Catholic Church. This rebellion took the form of a secret religion inspired by paganism and fairy beliefs, organized by a woman who became its leader. The participants in the secret religion met regularly at the witches' sabbath and the Black Mass. Michelet's account is openly sympathetic to the sufferings of peasants and women in the Middle Ages.

According to Michelet, in a note added to the end of the book:

The object of my book was purely to give, not a history of Sorcery, but a simple and impressive formula of the Sorceress's way of life, which my learned predecessors darken by the very elaboration of their scientific methods and the excess of detail. My strong point is to start, not from the devil, from an empty conception, but from a living reality, the Sorceress, a warm, breathing reality, rich in results and possibilities.[2]


The first part of the book is an imaginative reconstruction of the experience of a series of witches who led the religion from its original form of social protest into decadence. The second part is a series of episodes in the European witch trials. Today the book is regarded as being largely inaccurate, but still notable for being one of the first sympathetic histories of witchcraft, and as such it may have had an indirect influence on Wicca.


In the early 1970s, La Sorcière became the basis for the anime film Kanashimi no Belladonna, by Mushi Production.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ La Sorcière: The Witch of the Middle Ages, translated by L. J. Teotter, "The only Authorized English Translation", London, 1863.
  2. ^ Michelet, p. 326

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • English translation: Satanism and Witchcraft: A Study in Medieval Superstition. Transl. A. R. Allinson. Lyle Stuart/Citadel Press, 1939.
  • La Sorcière de Jules Michelet: l'envers de l'histoire, ed. Paule Petitier. Paris, Champion, 2004.