Murray, Margaret A(lice) (1863–1963)
British archaeologist whose writings on witchcraft played a
prominent part in the modern witchcraft revival. She was born
in Calcutta, India, July 13, 1863. She later moved to England
and entered University College, London (1894) where she was
subsequently a Fellow of University College (D.Lit., F.S.A.
(Scot.), F.R.A.I.), and by 1899 became a junior lecturer on
Egyptology. She retired in 1935. She participated in excavations
in Egypt (1902–4), Malta (1921–24), Hertfordshire, England
(1925), Minorca (1930–31), Petra (1937), and Tell Ajjul,
South Palestine (1938). During her long career, which included
a tenure as president of the Folklore Society, London
(1953–55), she published a number of valuable works on archaeology,
but is better remembered for her controversial
books on witchcraft.
In The Witch Cult in Western Europe (1921), Murray proposed
the idea that witchcraft was a pre-Christian religion in its own
right, rather than a heretical deviation from established Christianity.
The book had a great influence on Gerald B. Gardner
(1884–1964), pioneer of the modern witchcraft revival. Murray
in turn contributed an introduction to Gardner’s book Witchcraft
Today (1954). She also wrote two other books on witchcraft
The God of the Witches (1931) and The Divine King in England
(1954). She died November 13, 1963, soon after her hundredth
birthday.
Sources
Murray, Margaret A. My First Hundred Years. London William
Kimber, 1963.
Rose, Elliot. A Razor for a Goat. Toronto University of Toronto
Press, 1964.
Valiente, Doreen. An ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present. New
York St. Martin’s Press, 1973.