First, we must look at the true origins of witchcraft, those hidden in the mists of time. This is a subject that has been written about many times by many authors. This, of course, maybe quite repetitive to those who have been involved in the modern witchcraft movement for several years, but they must bear with us as this article is just as likely to be picked up by those who are making the first steps in the sometimes confusing world of the Neo-Pagan movement. It is our hope that we have given some different viewpoints to its origins that have not been covered before in our own or other literary works.
Hauntology, as a trend in recent critical and psychoanalytical work, has two distinct, related, and to some extent incompatible sources. The word itself, in its French form “hantologie”, was coined by philosopher Jacques Derrida in his ‘Spectres de Marx: l’état de la dette, le travail du deuil et la nouvelle Internationale’ (1993), which has rapidly become one of the most controversial and influential works of his later period.
Very few of those who are interested in occultism pause to ask themselves what occultism really is. They may know that the word “occult” means hidden, and that “esoteric,” which is often used as its synonym, means “for the few.” If they put the two together, they may conclude, and rightly, that occult science is really a branch of knowledge which is hidden from the many and reserved for the few.
The history of European witchcraft beyond the early modern witch trials has only recently emerged as a serious branch of witchcraft studies. The reason why it has taken so long for historians to pay more attention to the widespread continued relevance of witchcraft in the modern era can be attributed in part to the institutionalised scholarly tradition of historic periodisation: witchcraft equalled early modern.
The fear of returning from the dead dates back to prehistory, and if there was ever a geographical centre for that fear, it was Europe. In an Iron Age site in Bavaria, a violently killed woman was buried beneath a large stone, presumably to keep her from rising from her grave.
The heart of “esotericism” has long been centred around the belief that certain spiritual (or religious) teachings are best transmitted to others only after sufficient preparation and initiatic training. Such preparations are regarded as requiring long periods of discipline and often special empowerment rituals.