Leo Ruickbie

Dr Leo Ruickbie, BA (Hons), MA, PhD (Lond), Associate of King’s College, is a professional writer, editor, social scientist and historian, specializing in controversial areas of human belief and experience.  He has a PhD from King's College, London, London, for his thesis on contemporary witchcraft and magic use, building on research that won him an MA with distinction from Lancaster University.  He is the author of several books on the history and sociology of witchcraft, magic and the supernatural, as well as numerous articles and chapters in scholarly publications.

As well as writing, he is an academic peer reviewer, exhibition curator, public speaker and editor. He is an elected member of the Royal Historical Society, a Council member of the Society for Psychical Research, a committee member of the Gesellschaft für Anomalistik, and a member of the Parapsychological Association, Societas Magica, the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism and the Royal Photographic Society.  

His work has been mentioned in the media from The Guardian to Radio Jamaica, and his expertise has been sought by film companies, museums and charities, as well as being cited in the current student book for A-Level Sociology in the UK.  

In 2014, he was appointed editor of the Paranormal Review, now The Magazine of the Society for Psychical Research, and was co-opted to the Council in 2017. In 2022 he was appointed to replace a retiring Elected Member of the Council and joined the Board as a Director.


Selected Publications


Angels in the Trenches: Spiritualism, Superstition and the Supernatural During the First World War (Constable & Robinson, 2018).

The Impossible Zoo: An Encyclopedia of Fabulous Beasts and Mythical Monsters (Constable & Robinson, 2016).

A Brief Guide to Ghost Hunting (Constable & Robinson, 2013).

A Brief Guide to the Supernatural (Constable & Robinson, 2012).

Faustus: The Life and Times of a Renaissance Magician (The History Press, 2009).

Witchcraft Out of the Shadows: A Complete History (Robert Hale, 2004; 2nd ed., 2011).

Edited Books

With Antje Bosselmann-Ruickbie, The Material Culture of Magic (in preparation).

With Simon Bacon, Little Horrors: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Anomalous Children and the Construction of Monstrosity (Interdisciplinary Press, 2016).

Chapters in Books

‘Haunters and Hunters: Popular Ghost Hunting and the Pursuit of Paranormal Experience’, in Darryl Caterine and John Morehead (eds), The Paranormal and Popular Culture (Routledge, 2019).

‘The Devil’s Livery: The Role of Nudity in the Depiction of Witchcraft, Wicca and Satanism’, in Judith Noble, Daniel Zamani and Merlin Cox (eds), Visions of Enchantment: Occultism, Spirituality and Visual Culture (Fulgur, 2019).

'I was a Teenage Werewolf: The Seventeenth Century Witchcraft Trial of Jean Grenier’, in Leo Ruickbie and Simon Bacon (eds), Little Horrors: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Anomalous Children and the Construction of Monstrosity (Interdisciplinary Press, 2016).

‘Magic’ and ‘Spells’, in Patrick Hayes (ed.), Miracles: An Encyclopedia of People, Places, and Supernatural Events from Antiquity to the Present (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-CLIO, 2016).

‘Bell Witch, The’, ‘Hunkeler, Ronald E.’ and ‘Taylor, Michael’, in Joseph Laycock (ed.), Spirit Possession Around the World: Possession, Communion, and Demon Expulsion across Cultures (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-CLIO, 2015).

‘Memento (Non)Mori: Memory, Discourse and Transmission during the Eighteenth Century Vampire Epidemic and After’, in Simon Bacon and Katarzyna Bronk (eds), Undead Memory: Vampires and Human Memory in Popular Culture (Bern: Peter Lang, 2014).

‘Evidence for the Undead: The Role of Medical Investigation in the Eighteenth Century Vampire Epidemic’, in James Doan and Barbara Brodman (eds),The Universal Vampire: Origins and Evolution of a Legend, vol. 1(Lanham, MD: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press/Rowman & Littlefield, 2013).

‘“So Terrible a Force”: Spirit Communication in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn’, in Christopher M. Moreman (ed.),The Spiritualist Movement: Speaking with the Dead in America and Around the World, vol. 3 (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger/ABC-CLIO, 2013).

‘“Either Must Die at the Hand of the Other”: Religious Reactions to Harry Potter’, in Jennifer Sims (ed.),The Sociology of Harry Potter, (Cheshire, CT: Zossima, 2012).

"Mysteries Wrapped in Enigmas: Trithemius, Occultism n Cryptography" in Angela Catalina Ghionea (ed.), Medicine, Alchemy, Science and the Occult in European Thought (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, forthcoming).

Education and Publicity Committee

Co-ordinates and publicises educational activities 

Chairman: Prof. Bernard Carr

Members: Dr Deborah EricksonRobert McLuhan, Nemo MörckProf. Chris Roe, Dr Tom Ruffles, Dr Leo Ruickbie

Spontaneous Cases Committee

Handles reports received from the general public concerning anomalous phenomena, ranging from precognitive dreams to sightings of apparitions

Chairman: Dr Graham Kidd

Members: Dr Barrie Colvin, Dr Callum Cooper, Paul Cropper, Beth Darlington, Ciaran Farrell, John Fraser, Ashley Knibb, Randy Liebeck, Aaron Lomas, Dr John Newton, Dr Leo Ruickbie, Dr Malcolm Schofield, Dr Zofia Weaver.