Generations of Australians have grown up with the legend of Eureka and the familiar images of the gold rush in central Victoria. However, underneath these commonly known stories lies a stranger and darker past. As well as colonists, pioneers, soldiers and rebal miners, the colonial goldfields were home to spiritualists, secret societies, ghost-hoxers, bunyip legends and murderers. There are also the stories of those often forgotten in the goldfield histories - Indigenous peoples, immigrant communities, homosexuals, and the mentally ill. 'Goldfields and the gothic' is an anthology by local historians of the long buried legends, histories and folklore of the Victorian goldfields and their legacy today. Every historian has a collection of strange, buried pieces of history; this work begins the task of bringing them into the light.
When I first wrote the dissertation that was reconstructed as this book, the arena of Pagan Studies and Wicca, as one of a plethora of New Religious Movements emerging into the cultural mainstream during the 1980s, was still somewhat a fringe area of study. Indeed, neo-Pagan revivalist movements, of which Wicca is the most predominant, were still very much the target of vitriol and scare mongering particularly by religiously inspired political conservatives. Republican congressman in the United State for example, after discovering that many self-proclaimed witches served in the U.S army at military basein Fort Hood made the claim, "We believe they are satanic and that they do not deserve to have any place in Fort Hood". Republican politician Storm Thurmond asked in the senate "What's next? Will armored divisions be forced to travel with sacrificial animals for satanic rituals?" "From Introduction"