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Swa wiccan taeca?: ?as the witches teach.' So, explained the Old English translator, it was witches who counseled people to ?bring their offerings to earth-fast stone and also to trees and to wellsprings.' His contextualizing commentary on a Frankish penitential reveals the witches? intimate association with animist, earth-based ceremonies, contradicting the now-engrained idea that they were ?wicked.' In a compelling exploration of language, archaeology, early medieval literature and art, Max Dashu pulls the covers off ethnic lore known to few except scholarly specialists. She shows that the old ethnic names for ?witch? signify wisewoman, prophetess, diviner, healer, shapeshifter, and dreamer. She fleshes out the spiritual culture of the Norse völur (?staff-women?), with their oracular ceremonies, incantations, and ?sitting-out? on the land for wisdom. She examines archaeological finds of women's ritual staffs, many of which symbolize the distaff, a spinning tool that connects with broader European themes of goddesses, fates, witches, and female power. Ecclesiastical records show that these aspects of European women's spiritual culture survived state conversions to Christianity. Witches and Pagans plunges into the megalithic taproot of the elder kindreds, and the ancestral Old Woman known as the Cailleach. It draws on priestly Frankish and German sources to trace the foundational witch-legend of the Women Who Go by Night with the Goddess'and her links to women's spinning sacraments in the orature of Holle, Fraw Percht, and Swanfooted Berthe. The book also looks at the sexual politics of early witch burnings and the female ordeal of treading red-hot iron. Anglo-Saxon ?mystery-singers? shed light on ancestor veneration in early medieval Europe.The webs of Wyrd, weavers? ceremonies, herb-chanters, crystal balls and the Völuspá: this book uncovers the authentic ethnic roots of witchcraft. Putting the common woman at the center results in a very different view of European history than the one we have been taught. Sagas, ecclesiastical canons, laws, chronicles, charms, manuscripts and sculpture show the spiritual leadership of women and the goddesses, fates, and ancestors they revered. These strands can help to reweave the ripped webs of women's culture.