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Margaret Alice Murray (1863 -1963) was a prominent British anthropologist and Egyptologist. Her theories were acknowledged to have significantly influenced the emergence of Wicca and reconstructionist neopagan religions. Her main thesis in The Witch-cult in Western Europe was that a common pattern of underground pagan resistance to the Christian Church existed across Europe. Pagans worshipped a male God in covens of 13 worshippers. She believed that pagan beliefs and religion dating from the neolithic through the medieval period, secretly practiced human sacrifice until exposed by the witchhunt starting c. 1450. Murray confined her study to the cults in Great Britain
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Margaret Alice Murray (13 July 1863 - 13 November 1963) was a prominent British Egyptologist and anthropologist. Primarily known for her work in Egyptology, which was "the core of her academic career," she is also known for her propagation of the Witch-cult hypothesis, the theory that the witch trials in the Early Modern period of Christianized Europe and North America were an attempt to extinguish a surviving pre-Christian, pagan religion devoted to a Horned God. Whilst this theory is today widely disputed and discredited by historians like Norman Cohn, Keith Thomas and Ronald Hutton, it has had a significant effect in the origins of Neopagan religions, primarily Wicca, a faith she supported. Her work in Egyptology took place largely alongside her mentor and friend, the archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie, whom she worked alongside at University College London. One of the earliest women to "make a serious impact upon the world of professional scholarship," she was also an ardent feminist, being actively involved in the Suffragette movement. From 1953 to 1955, she was the president of the Folklore Society, although since her death various members of the society have attempted to dissociate the organisation from her and the Murrayite theory of the Witch-Cult.
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