Witches and Aliens: How an Archaeologist Inspired Two New Religious Movements

Author(s): Jeb Card

Year: 2017


Egyptologist and Folklorist Margaret Murray was a major figure in the creation of professional archaeology in the United Kingdom, President of the Folklore Society, and advocate for women’s rights in higher education. However, another major part of her legacy was the mainstream acceptance of the concept of the "witch-cult," a hidden ancient religion dating back to the Pleistocene but continuing until at least the seventeenth century when it was persecuted by witch-hunters. Historians have subsequently found this concept to be unsupportable but it is still commonly found in the popular imagination. One obvious legacy was the role of the witch-cult in the formation of Wicca and other neopagan movements in the second half of the twentieth century. But another major product of Murray’s archaeologically-informed witch-work was the Cthulhu Cult, created in fiction by science fiction and horror pioneer H. P. Lovecraft. Not only has Lovecraft’s Mythos inspired direct Lovecraftian magickal practices, but it has been a huge influence on paranormal and conspiracy beliefs centered around ancient civilizations and hidden secrets. Through these influences, core elements of early anthropology have persisted and grown outside of the professional establishment.

Cite this Record

Witches and Aliens: How an Archaeologist Inspired Two New Religious Movements. Jeb Card. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431718)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14821