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The Book of English Magic [Paperback]

Richard Heygate , Philip Carr-Gomm
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
RRP: 16.99
Price: 11.55 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 April 2010

Of all the countries in the world, England has the richest history of magical lore and practice.

English authors such as J.R.R.Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Terry Pratchett, and J.K.Rowling, dominate the world of magic in fiction, but from the earliest times, England has also acted as home to generations of eccentrics and scholars who have researched and explored every conceivable kind of occult art.

Most people are torn between a fascination with magic and an almost instinctive fear of the occult, of a world redolent with superstition and illusion. And yet more people now practice magic in England than at any time in her history.

The Book of English Magic explores this hidden story, from its first stirrings to our present-day fascination with all things magical. Along the way readers are offered a rich menu of magical things to do and places to visit.

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Product details

Read a sample chapter [PDF]
  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848540418
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848540415
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A user-friendly primer...a magical mystery tour, for readers who want to get a little deeper into magic, there are well informed suggestions' (The Times)

'Witchcraft and magic have never been more popular, and England is its global epicentre...a fabulous array. Fun, best of all is the end' (The Daily Express)

'A new book celebrates the growing witchcraft, spells, potions and the spirit world' (The Daily Express)

'Darkly glittery package for this survey of mysterious England, the country with the richest history of magical lore and practice in the world' (Bookseller)

'Should be a wizard read' (Birmingham Post)

'A giddying tour of a hidden history and an occult present' (Books Quarterly)

'A positive cornucopia of magic that's sure to cast a spell over you!' (Lancashire Evening Post)

'An astonishing and entertaining book' (Northern Echo)

'Well-read, tolerant, perceptive and reader-friendly' (John Billingsley, Northern Earth)

' Large, cheerful, handsome book...the tone is unflaggingly open-minded ' (Times Literary Supplement)

'Bright and Encouraging' (The Magic Circular)

'A treasure trove of magical lore' (The Observer)

'The authors of this fascinating book aim to introduce readers to the secret history of English occult arts' (Books Quarterly)

'Whatever you may think, it seems that there are more wizards practising than ever before. We meet some of them in this surprising book. And the authors suggest visiting the sites, such as Stonehenge and Mother Shipton's Yorkshire cave, which retain magical properties. Meanwhile it's a help to mug up a bit of astrology (and Druid lore) if you really want to be au fait'- (Sunday Telegraph)

'A fascinating guide to the evolution of English magic. From magic wands to ley lines, each chapter introduces a different aspect of all things enchanting. Complete with interviews with magicians and suggestions for spells' (Daily Express)

There are many rational reasons not to go beyond the first chapter. But if you don't you will never know how English witches- using a fridge, a doll, some string and (doubtless) a lot of nudity- tried to stop Saddam Hussein massacring the Kurds. You will not read an interview with a modern-day Welsh alchemist, or learn about an Elizabethan forebear who convinced his wife that, for the sake of his magic, she needed to become a swinger. Most of all you will miss out on the step-by-step guides: to dowsing, to creating your own philosopher's stone and to casting your own love spell ("think carefully about unintended consequences")'-­­­­­­ (The Times)

I cannot praise this book enough both for its content and its style... it is excellent value. Highly recommended and enjoyable - a book I shall keep close by my desk for reference (

Book Description

The hidden history of English magic

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
74 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is such a treat! 17 Jun 2009
This book is such a treat! Contrary to the erroneous information on this page, it's already been published in hardcover, and well worth buying in that format since it's a book one will want to refer to forever. The writing is lucid and wonderfully easy to read, yet conveys an astonishing amount of information. Although I am very well-versed in the subject, practically every page contained things I didn't know, and while it is indeed a perfect book for the "intelligent novice" it's far more than that - it's a serious, in-depth survey of a massive topic. Philip Carr-Gomm wears his erudition lightly, but this is no light-weight study; co-author Richard Heygate vividly portrays the insights of the many contemporary magicians he interviewed.

Fact after fascinating fact, idea after intriguing idea, character after eccentric character, all described with intelligent appreciation and the occasional tongue in cheek. A generous sprinkling of delightful anecdotes - my favourite being a gentleman named Cyril Hoskins, who fell out of a tree while trying to photograph an owl and "while suffering concussion had given permission for a Tibetan lama, with the full name of Tuesday Lobsang Rampa, to inhabit his body." Bless! Only in England. Note, please, that it's an OWL - the bird of wisdom!

The book is also very well put together - nice paper, gorgeous cover, decorative section headings, lots of illustrations (Mr. Rampa is shown with an enigmatically smiling Siamese cat). Little "potted biographies" of notable figures are set into the text, so it's perfect to read in little snippets....but beware! I opened it with the idea of leafing through first, reading more thoroughly later...several hours passed.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Magical Masterpiece! 23 Jun 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Book of English Magic (review)

As someone who is both a `magician' and a `magicKian' this book is a profound gift - a magical masterpiece no less! There is often no middle ground between the `two magics.' The former is usually an attempt to imitate real magic, practiced (often) by sceptical folk who are well versed in psychology, linguistics subtleties and other means of `pulling the wool over peoples eyes.' The latter often takes no notice of some of the necessary balances and healthy scepticisms of the former. This book does! It is both mystical and psychological, supernatural and rational, heavenly and humble.

The two authors, who clearly (and wonderfully) represent different approaches, manage to serve up a delightfully well written, intellectually stimulating, un-put-down-able adventure into all things magical (from merry old England's perspective). No stone of Albion remains unturned. They lead us (readers) into magical encounters wonderful and weird, and not only academically but practically too - offering wonderful `what to do now' pointers and exercises into gaining our own magical experience.

This book clearly involved a tremendous amount of research which, I must say, is evident on every page, and not only in terms of scanning wizard's grimoires, diaries and biographies but face to face interviews with the modern day witches, shamans and alchemists.

Also for those who love a book to look like a book - well, you're in for a treat. When this arrived in the post I tore off the wrapping paper and, for a while, just sat there in awe. It is a marvelously fine volume which begs to be lovingly lifted off the book shelf - almost in slow motion. One needs to take time with this book, not just skim read.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An invaluable resource! 12 July 2009
The authors have clearly put a lot of work into this handsomely produced book. For anyone seeking an overview of the magical scene in England past and present it will prove invaluable. Unusually, it doesn't just look at the past. A large part of the book is given over to interviews with present-day magical workers, including links to where they can be contacted. So for anyone seeking a path this would be a good place to start. Also, topics are approached from more than one angle. For example, the 43-page chapter entitled 'The Queen's Astrologer' looking at the Angelic magic of Dr. John Dee, begins with an 11-page summary of Dee's life and work, followed by explanations and interviews with Dee authorities including Robin Cousins, Stephen Skinner, and Rufus Harrington. Finally, it places Dee in historical context with an account of Renaissance astrological magic.

The Book of English Magic is most impressive, though with a volume of this size and covering such a wide range of topics, some errors are sure to creep in. For instance, there are one or two incorrect references in the section devoted to Madeline Montalban and ourselves. Rick Hayward, who helped Madeline run her school of magic from 1967, is quoted as saying "... soon found a job with Prediction magazine as an astrologer". Rick in reality inherited Madeline's position as astrologer on Prediction after she died in 1982. Also, the book states that Madeline's real name was Dolores North. She was born Madeline Royals and became Madeline North when she married in 1939. Presumably 'Dolores North' came from Gerald Gardner, who referred to her as such, and must have been one of the pseudonyms she used at the time they met. She did write under various pen names in the late '40s, including the name 'Dolores del Castro'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Magic?
I bought this book because of the authors. I was disappointed in it. Not at all as I expected after the promotion it was given at the Druid Gathering.
Published 1 day ago by witchygirl
4.0 out of 5 stars full of facts about our british magic heretige
I would use this book as a reference point, its very interesting.
It also lead me to Phillip Carr Gomm, who does fantastic meditation and sleep C Ds , . Read more
Published 2 months ago by pat o
5.0 out of 5 stars Wiccans, Wizzards or just plain HP Fans
Wiccans, Wizzards or just plain HP Fans a great book at the magics of olde worlde England. Historically interesting and another offshoot for those interested in the subject or... Read more
Published 2 months ago by jinxs5
4.0 out of 5 stars Magical
This is such fun to see how thinking has changed and yet the underlying need to know is still there very interesting indeed
Published 3 months ago by Beady
2.0 out of 5 stars english magic
not interesting to me gave it away to a local charity shop which i do instead of keeping unwanted books
Published 5 months ago by Valerie Alcock
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply outstanding.
This book is full of surprises and if you like this kind of thing, you'll keep dipping into it again and again. Read more
Published 7 months ago by H B Rees
4.0 out of 5 stars Buy a hard copy
Although this is a fact packed and treat of a book (that makes me proud to be British and a witch), I found the maps and illustrations of too poor a resolution to be magnified and... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Erssie
5.0 out of 5 stars Just.... 'Magic!'
I was tempted to purchase this book on the reviews alone. Something that I rarely do. However, this time, I did and I am so pleased that I did. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Greendragon
3.0 out of 5 stars for kids?
I was somewhat disappointed by the tone of this book, as it seemed to be talking down to the reader. Is it for children?
Published 9 months ago by H. J. Rowland
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
A worthwhile read for anyone interested in folk magic. This book has some Interesting reading and is full of anecdote.
Published 10 months ago by chris carr
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