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The Book of English Magic Paperback – 1 Apr 2010

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Product details

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  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (1 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848540418
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848540415
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 3.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 23,439 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)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 80 people found the following review helpful By LR Fredericks on 17 Jun. 2009
Format: Hardcover
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carole Chui on 11 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback
This is the inside history of magic that will make things so much easier for those trying to understand the magical world as it is today. In this field, there have been many books giving accounts of outstanding individuals, of groups and of movements. There has still been a gap; trying to see how it all fitted together was difficult, and seeing how the decades we have lived through fit in, harder still. This is the book that puts it all into perspective.

I would have been so grateful for a book like this when I started on the path, but I do not think it could have been written until now. Even a couple of decades ago the fear generated by "the occult" was vehement and widespread. Still, I am envious of those people who can start off aided by this book. The authors review the roots of magic in a common sense way, and look the various movements up to the time of writing, invaluable at a time when there is a feeling of change in the air. At such times a cool-headed history is invaluable this is written with many years of inside knowledge of modern magic and magical groups. It sets matters in context, puts modern practitioners in their place, and deals with matters that have not been given recognition. There is clearly a love for the magical world in general that means it is not partisan and is always constructive.

Invaluable for beginners and old hands alike. It isn't a "how to" book. No spell recipes (thank goodness). Just a map of where magic has been to clarify where it is going; and just what is needed in the second decade of the new century.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By B. Cooper on 7 May 2012
Format: Paperback
This book has reawakened my long-standing interest in the subject and brought it up to date, as all of the books I've read were written before the Eighties. It's a comprehensive overview and therefore necessarily a bit shallow, but there are plenty of recommendations for further reading.

I must make a few minor negative comments, though.

- Some of the web links no longer work (but I suppose this is to be expected in a book that's a few years old).

- I don't like the typography of the pages by "guest" contributors; these are in faint grey print and uncomfortable to read.

- The authors have some strange ideas about Freemasonry, which is not at all magical, at least for members of the degrees recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England. And where on Earth did the authors get the idea that Freemasons carry a magic wand in their cases? As Masonry is based on the stonemason's trade, all symbolical tools used are connected with that. The only "wands" in a lodge are the wands of office carried by certain officers, and those are about six feet long and nothing like a magician's wand.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Alfred Douglas on 12 July 2009
Format: Hardcover
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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