Saturday, 7 November 2015

FACTUAL REVIEW: The Book of Magic: From Antiquity to the Enlightenment - Brian Copenhaver

Release Date: 05/11/15
Publisher:  Penguin UK


'. . . as when iron is drawn to a magnet, camphor is sucked into hot air, crystal lights up in the Sun, sulfur and a volatile liquid are kindled by flame, an empty eggshell filled with dew is raised towards the Sun . . .'

The Bible is full of stories featuring forms of magic and possession - from Moses battling with Pharaoh's wizards to the supernatural actions of Jesus and his disciples. As, over the following centuries, the Christian church attempted to stamp out 'deviant' practices, a persistent interest in magic drew strength from this Biblical validation. A strange blend of mumbo-jumbo, fear, fraud and deeply serious study, magic was at the heart of the European Renaissance, fascinating many of its greatest figures.

This is a book filled with incantations, charms, curses, summonings, cures and descriptions of extraordinary, shadowy, only half-understood happenings from long ago. It features writers as various as Thomas Aquinas, John Milton, John Dee, Ptolemy and Paracelsus along with anonymous ancient and medieval works which were, in some cases, viewed as simply too dangerous even to open.

Brian Copenhaver's wonderful anthology will be welcomed by everyone from those with the most casual interest in the magical tradition to anyone drawn to the Renaissance and the tangled, arcane roots of the scientific tradition.


As a child you always believe in magic, as an adult you learn that things happen because of science, however for me, I want to believe in magic, there’s something primal, something innocent and of course for me, something mystical. It’s a subject that has undergone a lot of discussion over the years and whilst our opinions have changed over the years its fascinating to see how points have changed as well as how exponents of the various arts have gone on to further their own studies as well as beliefs based on what they could find tangible.

The book is wonderfully detailed. Carries a lot of research and whilst for some it could have been heavily bogged down with too much info, this title is accessible to the reader with an interest in the subject alongside carrying practices with incantations. Add to this a book that I found easy to follow as well as wonderfully bound all round makes this an ideal gift for the magically curious in your own life.

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