The moss on a dead man’s skull“: isn’t this just most evocative phrase? On the whole the doortstep-weight Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in 16th- and 17th-Century England (Keith Thomas, 1971, Penguin University Books) is funny and somehow heartening rather than poetic – endless anecdotes of the imaginative or bolshy alternatives to orthodox Christianity that the unlettered and unsung evolved, to suit themselves. Once the Bible was in English, those who could read seem to have found almost anything they looked for: the fact that the ones Thomas records were the ones who got themselves into trouble for Religious Incorrectness (so that their mini-heresies got into the records of the Ecclesiastical Courts) is I suppose a sign that it might not have been as much fun for them to live it as it is for us to read it, but still, a vivid sense of orneriness is what mainly comes across, plus amusingly annoyed priests and agitiators and intellectuals aghast at how wrong the masses endlessly are. It’s hard to argue that these particular masses were right, exactly: but the commentators don’t come out of it better, either.