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  • Margaret Murray: Sect Member? December 16, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary , trackback

    margaret murray

    Margaret Murray (obit 1963) is so often a rather obscure presence, flitting behind her bizarre writing on witchcraft and her sensible writing on Egyptology. It is from Hilda Ellis Davidson that we get a precious glimpse of the real woman in her twilight. HED, a great medievalist (obit 2006) had known Murray for many years in the Folklore Society including in the brutally bad immediate postwar period when Murray had been president: Davidson sat on the council in the late 1950s just after Murray’s turn in the chair. These were her comments on Margaret Murray, in a much later personal communication, to Jacqueline Simpson, which Simpson published in 1994.*

    ‘[Margaret Murray] was not at all assertive… never thrust her ideas on anyone. She behaved in fact rather like someone who was a fully convinced member of some unusual religious sect, or perhaps, of the Freemasons, but never on any account got into arguments about it in public.’

    This corresponds well with other comments about Margaret Murray (pictured below), particularly MM’s own extraordinary confession in her autobiography, the brilliantly titled My First Hundred Years, that she never troubled, in later life, to read criticisms of her opus. Margaret Murray’s witchcraft work seems, in the end, to have been a matter of personal faith. This begs the greater question that we can only whisper here: was hers a brilliant but ill-supported intuition; or a batty nonsense. Discuss. drbeachcombing AT gmail DOT com

    *’Margaret Murray: Who Believed Her and Why?’, Folklore 105 (1994), 89-96.