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Betwixt God and the Devil  by Richard Ward
An Inquiry into Essex Magic from the 16th Century to the Present day


Richard Ward’s book ‘Betwixt God and the Devil’ was born of a lifelong interest in the folk magic traditions of his native Essex, an area long known as 'The Witch County.’ as such, it is key to the history and development of modern traditional Witchcraft.


Drawing on a wide variety of source materials, some of which are obscure and difficult to obtain, Ward demonstrates that the history of Essex magic is far more complex than it first appears. In doing so, he shows that attitudes which portrayed witches as purely evil and Cunning folk as entirely good were far from the truth, despite the opinion of the Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins and his ilk during the 17th century. Even the popular belief that witches were exclusively pagan is shown to have been incorrect, an ambiguity popularly known as the dual observance. 


In terms of history, Ward’s study covers the period from the 16th century onwards, although it begins with an outline of the origins of this suitably nameless arte during the Anglo-Saxon era. This was a time of great change when anything deemed magic and the worship of pagan deities was outlawed and denounced by the newly adopted Christian Church, which they labelled as the Devil’s work.


In documenting the survivals of Essex magic during the 19th century, Ward includes detailed accounts of James Murrell, the last of the great Essex Cunning folk, and Canewdon’s George Pickingill. In particular, Ward’s book examines the myths that have built up around Pickingill, offering a significant reassessment of the Pickingill legend.


Ward also acknowledges the importance of incoming Romany clans that breathed new life into the county’s magical traditions and kept them alive well into the early to the mid-20th century.

Ward goes on to note the rise of Essex witchcraft in popular culture during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was at this time, according to some accounts, that Essex witchcraft became linked with the likes of Gerald Gardner and Aleister Crowley. On examination of the evidence, Ward has not shied away from challenging these and other dubious claims, some of which have been widely perpetuated by academics and popular authors alike. Ward’s history concludes with brief accounts of modern Essex-born practitioners, from the likes of witches Alex Sanders, Stewart Farrar and Paul Huson through to Typhonian magician Kenneth Grant and modern Cunning man Andrew Chumbley.


The second part of Ward’s book examines the county’s magical folklore, delving into such important areas as the true and multi-faceted nature of the Devil in Essex, its genius loci and familiar spirits, and the widespread belief in dreams, omens, and superstitions, whose observation was considered essential to the successful practice of magic in all its forms.


In the last part of his book, Ward reveals the magical practices traditionally used by witches and Cunning folk in Essex, such as charms and herbal remedies, methods of divination, curses and anti-curses. As he demonstrates that the core practices of Essex magic were longest preserved in remote farming communities, Ward includes a chapter specifically related to agricultural magic. This final section of the book also features accounts of the Horseman’s Word ritual, the related rite of the toad witch and the magical use of other bones and natural talismans within the county.

Available in three formats 

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Standard Hardback £50: limited to 250 copies. 224 pages. Royal format. Stitched case binding with gold foil blocking to cover and spine, deep red endpapers, and red and black head and tail bands. Printed on 90gsm paper, stitched. Laminated bookmark specifically designed for the book (Only available with direct orders)
These will be numbered but unsigned


Special Edition £140 : Limited to 60 copies. 224 pages Royal format - bound in Wintan* leather.  Gold foil blocking to cover & spine, deep red endpapers, with red and black head and tail bands., Printed on 90gsm paper, stitched. With Black a slipcase. Each copy will contain a signed and numbered bookplate uniquely designed for the book. 

*Wintan leather is 85% recycled leather

Deluxe Edition £TBC: Limited to 10 copies. 224 pages Royal format - Half bound in full leather with Marbled boards. Each copy will contain a signed and numbered bookplate uniquely designed for the Deluxe edition. 

Order details coming soon.



Part One: The Magical History of Essex
The Origins and Early Development of a Nameless Art
The Persecution of Witchcraft and the Rise of the New Cunning Folk
The Witch Country, the Witch-Finder General, and the Decline of Magic
Survivals of Witchcraft and the Last of the Great Essex Cunning folk
The Birth of Wicca and the Rebirth of a Nameless Art

Part Two: Magical Folklore
Spirits of the Land
Familiar Spirits
The Devil in Essex
Beliefs in Dreams, Omens, and Superstitions

Part Three: Folk Magic Practices
Herbal Charms, Remedies, and other Cures
Curses, Anti-Curses, and Other Spells Against Witchcraft
Agricultural Magic

Natural Talismans, Bone Charms, and the Horseman’s Word

PLEASE NOTE: Orders are restricted to a maximum of three (3) copies. 
Larger orders that have not been pre-arranged will be cancelled and refunded (minus processing fee)

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