Witchcraft is commonly spoken of in popular culture, but few know, or are even able to guess at, its shadowy history. This in-depth investigation discovers how the ideas we have about witchcraft took shape thousands of years ago in the myths and religions of the ancient world. It also looks at why these ideas were expressed so violently during the era of the witch trials. Finally, it reveals how witchcraft has been transformed into one of the most radical and fastest growing religions—a religion of equality and compassion that still has the power to unsettle even the bravest of newcomers. With new analyses, fresh insights, and groundbreaking material drawn from the author's research into the mysticism, magic, and social meaning of Wicca, this is the first book to bring witchcraft fully out of the shadows.