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The Book of English Magic Paperback – 1 Apr 2010
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'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 (GoodReads.com)
The hidden history of English magicSee all Product description
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Each chapter includes comments and longer passages from people who practice the various crafts in the present day and how they have affected their lives. There are also lists of places to see, things to do, websites to explore, courses to take - both in person and by correspondence or online- and lots of books to read if you want to explore particular topics in more depth. I found it interesting that the author also lists novels in which the various practices play a part.
I found this a fascinating read as it brought everything together for me in one place. I knew bits an pieces about most of the subjects covered but this book really shows how everything is connected and overlaps - 'As above, so below'. There are comprehensive notes on each chapter and an appendix showing how you can explore all these subjects without leaving your armchair. The book is easy to read and it brings all these subjects to life. I have added several books to my wish list as a result of reading this book.
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.
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'.
More seriously, there is one story on page 484 that is total fiction. The authors describe rituals carried out in a temple in a house in Whitby and at Boggle Hole in 1970. Those involved apparently were Ray Sherwin, Jo Sheridan, Alfred Douglas and Lionel Snell (Ramsey Dukes). In fact Jo and I had no connection with Whitby in 1970. We bought a house in Whitby in November 1971, but it was in such a poor state of repair that we weren't able to move in until February 1975. We sold the house in 1981. There was never a temple there and we practised no group rituals. Our house was used as a retreat from London where we could get on with our writing. Nothing more. We have never met Ray Sherwin or Lionel Snell. The only person we knew in Whitby with any connection to magic was a chap named Bernie who ran an occult supplies business called Starchild.
This is how myths get started: "Oh yes, Jo Sheridan and Alfred Douglas used to dance around Boggle hole with Lionel Snell and Ray Sherwin, trying to raise magical power". I've heard of Boggle Hole but we never went there. As for dancing round until exhausted - definitely not our style. Who started this tale, I wonder? Possibly someone who knew of magic being practised in Whitby in 1970, saw from the blurb on our books that we had a house in Whitby in the '70s, added two and two together and came up with five.
However, this should not distract from a fine book that will surely find a place on every magician's bookshelf.
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