Witches in Fact and Fantasy by Lauran Paine NEL Paperback Edition November 1976 First published in Great Britain by Robert Hale & Co. Ltd 1971
Jacket design by Terry Griffiths
Not sure if we've had this one before or not. I don't remember it but then again I can't believe any '70s NEL about witches with a naked woman on the cover could've slipped under the Vault radar for so long.
I don't know about Lauran Paine's credentials apropos of the Left-Hand Path. Born 1916 and still with us as far as I know, Paine spent the first couple of decades of his writing career notching up countless westerns under a slew of different names. Then in the early '70s he quite unaccountably produced a run of 'non-fiction' supernatural titles; Gaggle of Ghosts (1971), this one, The Hierarchy of Hell & Sex in Witchcraft (both 1972), and Witchcraft and the Mysteries (1974) - most, if not all, originally published by Taplinger in the states and over here in hardback by Robert Hale. I believe Witches in Fact and Fantasy was the only one subsequently picked up by NEL for a paperback edition (why they opted for this one rather than Sex in Witchcraft I wouldn't know). After that it was back to the wide open prairie and other man stuff. All of which may lead one to believe that Witches in Fact and Fantasy was just another 'Satanic '70s' hack job, which it may well have been, but at nearly 200 pages and with a proper index Paine does seem to have put a fair amount of effort into researching his subject. I'm not saying it's a definitve work but, perhaps even a little disappointingly, it doesn't appear to be merely a quickie exploitation number either.
i'm sure you're just teasing us, but the excellent Mr. Saucecraft provided us with the lowdown on Gerard de Villiars SAS: Black Magic In New York (Nel, 1970): typically, can't find his original post on here, but here's the Wordpress version. Nel certainly got their money's worth out of the sultry sword-swallower as she returns - along with The Bloody Countess - for Illustrated History Of Witchcraft (Nel, 1975), the cover of which may or may not be visible depending on the time of day. (Of late, we seem to exceed our Ripway 24 hour bandwidth allowance every time, so i'm looking to rehost the more innocuous covers on ph*t*b*ck*t. Trouble is, their idea of 'innocuous' and ours ....).
Come to think of it, even that skull/warty toad/badly-drawn-raven combo looks familiar ...
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.