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Such concerns were for hunting, crops and warding off sickness. The state of magic moved on as the landscape of Britain is filled with landmarks that at first modern Brits took no notice of. This changed with the likes of John Aubrey and William Stukely who recognized them as Pagan holy sites and worthy of attention. Originally they were straight line paths from one place to the next.

Trade caravans and pilgrims followed these routes. To tap into these Ley lines one could use a variety of methods but one stood out and that was dowsing. By use of tools inclusive of pendulums and dowsing rods Ley lines could be discovered. Dowsing is also an effective means for finding water and oil. Druids who were the philosophers among the Celts rose to prominence. Their writing was using the Ogham alphabet.

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Now not much is known about the Druids so we have what is called an imaginative reconstruction. The Romans obliterated any traces of Druidic culture. The reconstructions come from scratch. Druidism or neo-druidism developed in Britain growing through three stages. First group mimicking the Freemason was more like a workers club offering fraternity, friendship and union style benefits.

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Finally the druids became a spiritual magical movement. They modeled themselves after the Mason with initiations and ceremonies and casting circles. Symbolic use if herbs, animal totems and vision quests are made use of. No magic book on England would be complete without mentioning Merlin. Some call him Mardyn the wild one. No one knows who he really is. They know he existed; of course King Arthur is something else entirely.

Merlin was an adviser to the king. In reality he may have been a chieftain who came from Ireland and Scotland. Geoffrey Monmouth spoke of him in his works. Many feel that Merlin's prophecies came to pass. Others still say they are yet to pass. The chapter continues with further talk on the legends of the Grail and their internal spiritual uses.

As the Romans were forced to flee the Anglo Saxons and the Jutes entered the scene. A system of magic and sorcery was built upon the foundation of what was left behind of the Romans and celts added to the Germanic tribes brought with them. The Anglo Saxon brought with them beliefs in elves, dwarves, gnomes and faeries. They also brought the Runic alphabet with them. The Runes branched off and took different courses in Britain then they did in Germany.

The Anglo Saxon had a belief that sickness was caused by mischievous elves. The Anglo Saxon sorcerer has verbal charms and herbs that were meant to counteract such things. The Herbs were often imbued with powers bestowed up them by certain astral bodies. The Runes were used for fortune telling and Binding runes could be used for magical spells.

Binding is when runes were worn as a talisman or amulet. Two runes would be combined for certain desired result. High magic came to play with the importation of Alchemy. Alchemists in the west have always sought two things: how to turn metals into gold and how to perfect the soul. Alchemists in the East also wanted to perfect the soul but they were also searching for immortality. Eventually Alchemy would lead to chemistry but the idea of certain herbs being associated with planetary influence and perfecting the soul would find their way into High Magic.

High Magic is all about Theurgist magic which is geared for perfecting the soul. The book has a few real interesting activities associated with alchemy that can be performed at home. John Dee was very interested in both Astrology and alchemy. A gifted magician he plunged into magic whole heartedly. His interest in magic would lead to an interest in angels.

He was a favorite of the Elizabethan court. He would get together with a cohort who is clairvoyant who was able to decipher the Enochian language. They would later go off treasure hunting with his cohort Edward Kelley. Their treasure hunting exploits were not as successful as hoped. Edward Kelley ended up getting arrested. John Dee retired. Low magic is using magic to procure things like love, money and even fighting of sickness. It had much in common with Anglo Saxon sorcery. The people that come to mind are Witches, Wiccans and Cunning folk.

Wicca was introduced in by Gerald Gardner. Without going into his life details Wicca has been controversial. It made the term witch a positive connotation. Their focus was on positive magic. The controversy is the actual age of whatr is called Wicca. Witch craft is not the same as Wicca in al cases. The original witches were actually cunning folk who lived in the countryside villages. They would perform magick to protect people from the evil work of witches. They would also say their incantation invoking Jesus.

The second group of witches were those accused of witch craft and burned at the stake. Many were innocent. Finally there is Wicca. Wicca took many things of ceremonial magic including invocations from the Key of Solomon. They also took the initiation from the Masons. Combining theories from India and the far east, Gerald Gardner formulated his own brand of magic.


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The book is too exhaustive to give a thorough summarization unless you are writing a term paper. It has interviews, places to visit, activities, book you name it. This book gets five stars out of five stars if you are any way into magic then buy the book ASAP. Feb 01, Tim Pendry rated it it was amazing Shelves: five-star , esoteric , religion-spiritual , history , popular-culture , cultural-studies.

I cannot praise this book enough both for its content and its style. It is a hefty tome at over pages but beautifully bound and once you get over the odd use of a lighter typeface for 'practitioner' contributions designed. The structure is worth commenting on because, quite simply, it works and it puts to shame a lot of the shoddy editing that you currently get in the publishing industry. Carr-Gomm and Heygate tell the story of English mag I cannot praise this book enough both for its content and its style.

Carr-Gomm and Heygate tell the story of English magic in twelve successive roughly chronological chapters, each with contemporary resonance, taking us from in simplistic terms earth magic, druidry, Anglo-Saxon magic, the arthurian tradition, the folk magic of the pre-modern era, alchemy, the world of John Dee, the cunning folk of rural industrial England, freemasonry, the magical orders of the late ninetenth century, Crowley and his more benign contemporaries like Dion Fortune and, finally, the contemporary world right up to the emergence of chaos magic.

Each chapter contains a narrative that introduces you to the contemporary manifestations of the historic experience and then intersperses this with practical magical insights for example, how to hunt for ley lines or the basics of magical numerology or the tarot as well as extended interviews with practitioners in each field. These 'insights' will give you sufficient flavour of a practice for you to decide whether to investigate further. On top of this, the authors provide exceptional and up to date resource materials - fiction related to the era, biographies of key figures, information on where to go and how to get more information, including access points to current magical schools, even those with a bit of a health warning attached.

There are, of course, useful further reading lists, advice on bookshops and internet sites and even lists of publishers and academic and specialist courses. Finally, the overall tone is measured, balanced, fair and thoughtful. There are even periodic health warnings against misunderstanding or misusing magical techniques or expecting too much or the wrong thing. This book exists well within the contemporary culture of British not just English paganism - humane, tolerant, eclectic. There is a certain national pride that England has Wicca as its global contribution to the major growing religions though Druidry may claim some status here and the argument that England is the most magical country in the world certainly seems to hold water as each chapter unfolds.

There are many views of what magic is and what it means and the authors are fair to all of them - whether there are really existent realities or whether the phenomena are psychological is all the same to them. They take no sides. There is an amusing passage where the authors compare the 'styles' of serious pagans, new agers, wiccans, freemasons and the thelemites and chaos magicians at the harder edge of the game so that 'choices' to dump Judaeo-Christian restriction and plump for an alternative have very many options that will fit many different types of personality.

Personally, I am a pagan-sympathetic observer with thoroughly chaotic and thelemite tendencies who is just a little resistant to the professionalisation of the latter. For me, this is a book of many possible techniques and of many more in decades to come by which persons, individuals, find their own ethical and 'spiritual' paths without benefit of authority. Of course, there are traditions that do have hierarchies and grades with freemasonry probably at the most extreme end of imposed order and secrecy and weak personalities can be overwhelmed by strong personalities but the general trend of English magic is embedded in that very English blend of individualism and pragmatism that makes us strangely passive yet supremely stubborn if our Ancient Liberties are threatened.

My recommendation to the reader is to relax and let the book flow through you, taking notes of those techniques and cultures that most appeal to your nature. You can lay the book aside a bit better informed about what is on offer if you ever need something to give you meaning or explain the world better than scientific positivism though intelligent magic, as the authors frequently suggest, is not incompatible with science by any means.

Or you can take up one of the traditions, follow through on a reference until it has served its purpose - and then find another for a new purpose later. Basically, make your search a pleasure not a chore - though the best results clearly come from immensely hard and focused labour. This is the real point of magical thinking - although the authors end the book with no less than 16 uses of magic, in essence the primary use is self development, finding your true nature and working it in the world. Magic represents a radical democratic and yet oddly conservative tradition of resistance to being told who you are by authority of any type and yet it is not anarchic even at its most chaotic.

It constructs an ethic from experience, an understanding of difference between persons tolerance and of what makes us all so similar nature. And one footnote about the English tradition. In much of the world, the new paganisms have grown because they have to say something to the unsure and disempowered and this is clearly so with the spread in the US of neo-pagan ideas but, in the UK today, the simple egalitarianism of the pagan revolution is expressed in the breadth of intellect and achievement that leavens and assists the paganism of the street.

As you read through the many testimonies in this book, you will see people with serious academic accomplishments rub alongside people whose status in society may be 'lowly' but who are accomplished in their abilities to see things the rest of us do not or in giving some sort of 'spiritual' service to others. The respect of each for all and of all for each is in marked contrast to cultures that 'look up to' priests, rabbis or imams and leave their spiritual thinking at the door of the church, mosque or synagogue.

This is not to denigrate the latter - they have their role as community religions which contain many strands of deep intellectual engagement, mysticism and consolation - but the structural difference despite the High Priestesses and Grades of some advanced magical and pagan traditions is that power comes from below instead from above. The wicked tantric Crowley was seeking to liberate his followers, even from their allegiance to him! Highly recommended and enjoyable - a book I shall keep close by my desk for reference.

Jan 06, Allyson Shaw rated it it was ok. Not sure who the audience is for this book. Serious practitioners will find it all a bit superficial and scatter-shot, curious skeptics will find it equally frustrating. It is poorly edited as well. The activities sections struck me as humorous-- as if they were written for children or perhaps it was going for some kind of Martha-Stewart style occult advice? I wish I could recommend this book, but I really can't. Guess who's back? Back again! IT ME! I mean at this point most of my goodreads friend could have entirely forgotten who I am and I wouldn't blame them, or you if it relates to you as you read this right now.

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Alright now let's jump into the actual review. This is a wonderful book for any Guess who's back? This is a wonderful book for anyone with a casual interest in magic or a total beginner. The world of magic is so wide, there are tons of different ways to practice, different belief systems, some practice it as part of their religions while others view it as a simple philosophy and considering the amount of people who to this day find it truly shameful or even absolute blasphemy, it can be hard to find a mentor.

This book could help you begin your journey as a magician. It presents the reader with an array of easy magical projects you can realise with next to nothing and gives a great introduction to english magic from the middle ages to current day, along with an incredibly long list of resources ranging from books to websites, to bookshop adresses and sites you might want to visit, magical festivals you could take part in or simply assist to etc.. I think knowing about well known magicians and the movements they have created certainly would help a newcomer to find their footing in the magic world and decide what they want to explore most.

It is also a great ressource if you want to understand more profoundly the basis of the magical worlds of books like Harry Potter,the Lord of The Rings, His Dark Materials series etc.. The only reason why I didn't give 5 stars to this book is that it's definitely not advertised as a beginner book and I wish I had known that prior to reading it.

If you are familiar with the history of the UK and magic in Europe you probably won't learn too many new things.


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However, it is a very easy and even entertaining read, the historical bits being spaced apart with small essays -from professors and other magic practitioners- on whichever subject the chapter is about, giving us a more modern take on everything we just read. The book contains really beautiful illustrations such as these you may see on the cover, really giving the impression that it is an old grimoire. It is for sure a nice addition to my collection and one I would consider giving to a teen or young adult with an interest in the occult since it touches on so many things, from dowsing to chaos magic and wicca, not to mention the old norse gods and druidry!!!

Mar 13, Naomi rated it it was ok. There is some good writing here, and the book is an entertaining read. Some of the chapters are excellent for beginners to the subjects, particularly the ones on the history of Enochian and other Renaissance magic, and the chapters that chart the influence of these early-modern ceremonial forms of magic into more recent magical history. Unfortunately, there are a lot of problems with the other chapters and their research, particularly the ones on 'ancient' magic, and the examples of people's pers There is some good writing here, and the book is an entertaining read.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of problems with the other chapters and their research, particularly the ones on 'ancient' magic, and the examples of people's personal application of magical systems get irritating when you're enjoying some of the history.

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There is an 'old religion' paradigm here that tries to suggest that much magic dates back to pre-Christian times, but with little evidence presented of this. There are also mistakes like calling Luna the goddess of the sun. Those were the ones I noticed - there might be a lot more in the chapters where I'm not familiar with the history.

I wouldn't rely on this as a primary source, but parts of it are interesting. Not the early parts, though - so stick with it till the end if you're interested in the better parts. A good book to read about the different types of magic you want to know about, but a little bit boring for the parts you don't. The Book of English Magic promised to bring this all together, and talk about the history of practising magic in England while also looking at the literature in which it has flourished, topping it all off with some pointers for those looking to begin their own magical practice.

I was in this for the first two promises, thinking that I could just ignore the third. The Book of English Magic is an extremely comprehensive book on the various strands of magic that have been practiced in these isles, whether that be dowsing, the casting of runes, numerology, tarot, crystal balls, transmutation, and so on. In doing so, it also looks at the various orders that have sprung up over the ages, be they pagans, freemasons, chaos magickians their own spelling, not mine and so on.

Each chapter includes notes on further reading resources, interviews with current practitioners, and notes on how to practice this type of magic yourself. From a historical perspective, this was fairly interesting…however, the utter sincerity with which everything was presented started to make me feel like I was going to strain something this was not helped by the practitioner interviews being presented in a very light grey which was absolute murder on the eyes. Before long I found myself struggling not to roll my eyes at the in my opinion nonsense being presented as mystical, ancient truths, especially in the cases - which were many - where the meaning for runes, tarot cards, magical rites and such had all turned out to have been made up by a handful of people in the 60s.

I soon found myself reading a couple of sentences, scoffing loudly, and then wandering off to do something else instead. May 02, The Usual added it. If I were being fair, I'd say that a book that tries to cover everything from crop-circles to freemasonry, and from Merlin to Aleister Crowley is necessarily going to be broad and shallow. If I were being fair, I'd say that the sheer breadth of material sampled means that no-one is going to believe in all of it, not even the authors, and that there will always be interesting side-routes left unexplored.

If I were being fair, I'd say it takes a deft hand to make reality as interesting as fiction If I were being fair, I'd say that a book that tries to cover everything from crop-circles to freemasonry, and from Merlin to Aleister Crowley is necessarily going to be broad and shallow. If I were being fair, I'd say it takes a deft hand to make reality as interesting as fiction and vice-versa. If I were being unfair, I'd say that I was hoping for something a little more scholarly-historical and a little less Ladybird Book.

If I were being unfair, I'd suggest that a book that can't get its astrological symbols in the right order might lack somewhat in credibility. If I were being unfair, I'd grab the authors by their collective throat and beg them, please - in the name of whichever deity they currently hold sacred, in the name of whatever creed they choose to adhere to, however ludicrous it may appear to be; in the name of all the Gods and all the saints and all the powers under heaven, please - to stop name-dropping J.

Tolkien and J. Bloody Rowling every few pages. If I were being balanced I suppose I might say all of the above, and note that, like most of the things we think of as English, English Magic is mostly not English. So I have. View all 3 comments. Dec 11, Christine rated it liked it Shelves: king-arthur , witches-and-wizards , kindle , tolkien , sir-terry-pratchett , myth-and-lore-english-welsh. I think I would have gotten more out of this book if I was interested in becoming a follower of Wicca. I was looking more for a history, and this is very general about history.

Mar 14, Dakota rated it liked it. Facts were presented unbiased with no adherence to chaos-magic, druidry or wicca. I caught a whiff of nationalism though which kind of threw me off. The nationalism is granted since it is a book of ENGLISH magic but at least some subtext of inspiration from other countries would have been nice. Overall a good book and a nice general review of the history of magic in E 3. Overall a good book and a nice general review of the history of magic in England. Not a specific historical account but more like a stepping off point to find recourses for further research.

Apr 29, Bri Saussy rated it really liked it Shelves: european-magic-witchcraft , general-occult-occult-history. The Book of English Magic is one of the best works I have read on magic in a long time. It focuses exclusively on English magic through the ages, touching on hedgewitchery, Druids, Wiccans as started by Gerald Gardner , cunning folks, Ceremonial Mages, Alchemists, and Chaos Magicians to name a few. I love it when the practical and magical meet up and the authors did a fantastic job on this count. This book does not deal with the UK as a whole, it mentions Scotland and Wales a few times but it really is focused on magic as it has been practiced in England.

Treat it like a survey course and really, it could be one and you will walk away feeling infinitely more educated about the history of magic and those who practice it. Essential reading in my opinion. Forget the usually accepted definition of magic - a conjuror on stage doing magic tricks. This book isn't about that type of magic. It is about the history of magic in England - from earliest history to the present day. It covers such practices as dowsing, scrying, herbal remedies, charms. It is all too easy to dismiss all these subjects as mumbo jumbo but reading this book with an open mind might make you revise your opinion.

Each Forget the usually accepted definition of magic - a conjuror on stage doing magic tricks. Very Short Introductions VSI series combines a small format with authoritative analysis and big ideas for hundreds of topic areas. Written by our expert authors, these books can change the way you think about the things that interest you and are the perfect introduction to subjects you previously knew nothing about. A Freemason and astrologer, Sibly c. One can imagine Mr Norrell sitting by the fire in heated argument with Ebenezer Sibly over the boundaries between beneficial and iniquitous forms of magical practice, and its national importance.

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Norrell would undoubtedly have had regular correspondence with the influential occult bookseller John Denley. Jonathan Strange would have made the ideal companion as Barrett careered around the countryside from one ballooning disaster to another. Barrett gave private tuition on the magical arts, and one of his pupils was a Lincolnshire cunning-man named John Parkins. When this rural magician returned to his home near Grantham he set up a Temple of Wisdom, and began publishing a series of divinatory, herbal and magical texts.

In we find Strange using his magic in the service of Lord Wellington, and that same year Parkins advertised a lamen or talisman for military and naval officers in his Cabinet of Wealth, or the Temple of Wisdom. Featured image credit: Magic Library.