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Customer Review

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a grounded, informed survey of magical practise in England from the Tudor period into the 17th c., 23 Jun. 2009
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth-Century England (Penguin History) (Paperback)
Keith Thomas' classic and controversial work provides a grounded and informed survey of the spectrum of magical and mantic practise in England from the Tudor period into the 17th century, focussing upon astrologers and other pratitioners of traditional magical and divinatory arts: the period during the Civil War when censorship broke down and a flood of alchemical and hermetic works from Agrippa to Paracelsus became available in the vernacular is especially fascinating. Thomas' deals intelligently with witchcraft and those accused of it and while never shying away from the ubiquitous reality of Magic and magical practises in the pre-Enlightenment world he makes short shrift of those who would uncritically assert the historical reality of furtive, organised 'witch-cults' persisting through the centuries or who would desperately try to conflate these fantasies with the figures of the Cunning-Folk whose vocation was essentially Christian in conviction. WB Yeats asserted that scholarship is not iself the Sibyl but is sometimes capable of clearing away the rubbish obstructing the Sibyl's cave - this controversial classic by Keith Thomas proves the truth of that adage. An invaluable, highly detailed resource which will be prized by those studying the astrologers of 17th century England such as William Lilly and the reality of the magical arts in that period.
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