Interest in magic and sorcery has been rekindled in recent years due to the success of popular fiction and films such as the "Harry Potter" novels and "The Lord of the Rings". Surprisingly, much of that fancy is founded on fact, and now readers looking for the history and lore behind their favorite fantasies will have a resource on which to rely. With more than 500 entries, "The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy" is a fascinating A-to-Z reference to the history of the Western magical and alchemical traditions, sorting history from myth and folklore and examining mystical beliefs through the ages. With roots reaching back to ancient Egypt, the classical world, and the Middle East, magic and alchemy have often played an integral part in science, politics, and religion. From the quest for the Philosopher's Stone to 20th-century wizards like Aleister Crowley to contemporary pagans and wiccans, the full range of Western magic and its influence on society is documented here. Topics covered include history, lore, famous people, philosophies, procedures, materials, rituals, and relationships to science.