The Book of English Magic: Book Review

The Book of English Magic, Phillip Carr-Gomm & Richard Heygate, The Overlook Press, 2009. (Hardcover)

The Book of English Magic by Carr-Gomm and Heygate (2009) gives readers a comprehensive introduction to magic in English culture. This is a textbook style historical review of occult and magickal culture in English history. It goes from pre-history and ancient Britain to modern occult culture covering a range of topics (though certainly not everything). Some topics covered include dowsing, Ley lines, Druids, Anglo-Saxon magic, astrology, alchemy, Renaissance grimoire, Arthurian myth, cunning folk, Freemasonry, The Golden Dawn and other magickal orders, ceremonial magic, and Chaos Magick. In addition to general subjects covered, historical figures like Dr. John Dee, Aleister Crowley, and Dion Fortune and their contributions to magic are discussed. The material is broken into easy to read articles. Also, one advantage of this book is each section includes more resources. Unlike many books in the occult section, this book is well researched and well referenced. Clear footnotes and appendices are in the back of the book including a section for even more suggestions for further reading. Each section also includes fictional sources for inspiration into time periods and systems of magic. This is a through study of magic in English culture that beginners to experienced witches, wizards, warlocks, or the generally curious could enjoy.

I found a few sections of the book uninspiring and a little long but overall enjoyed this book. Despite that not all sections were of personal interest to me, all sections were full of useful information. Some sections include exercises on the material covered in the chapter. I most enjoyed the Tarot exercise included in the 20th century section. Additionally, all sections give a list of suggested activities to further investigate various magickal subjects. Unfortunately, most of these activites cannot be accomplished by those not in England. However, I can personally see value in many of the suggested activities like visiting the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle and Tintagel castle as they were activities I found both fun and spiritually fulfilling during my time in England. These suggested activity sections are useful of particular use to anyone with a magickal interest planning a trip to England. Overall, I think this a good reference book. The hardcover edition I have is excellently designed and printed on good quality paper with impressive illustrations. For this reason alone, I think this book is a great addition to any magickal library. I have not seen any other books as comprehensive as this on the subject of English magickal culture.

Full Disclosure: I purchased this book. All views and opinions expressed in this article are mine alone and I was not paid or asked by author or publisher to write this review.


About Pixie

I'm just your average 20-something trying to figure it out. I am also a theologian, yogi, witch, pagan, dirty hippie, activist (progressive politics), feminist, knitter, environmentalist, and friend. I've also been accused of being a hipster - I am not sure about that. I am sometimes happy to be Gen Y (go Harry Potter) and most of the time confused (seriously guys... ) by everyone else. My hobbies including knitting (and maybe crochet), quilting, recycling, cooking, writing, reading, and biking. I'm finishing up a masters in public policy and when I worked worked in political nonprofits as an activist.
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2 Responses to The Book of English Magic: Book Review

  1. Pingback: Pagan Reading Challenge « Pixiecraft: Adventures of Magick and Devotion

  2. Pingback: New Release: The First Technomancer « The Raptor's Claw

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