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The Occult, Witchcraft and Magic: An Illustrated History

de Christopher Dell

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1524180,749 (3.82)1
From the earliest Paleolithic cave rituals, magic has gripped the imagination. Magic and magicians appear in early Babylonian texts, the Bible, Judaism and Islam. Secret words, spells and incantations lie at the heart of every mythological tradition. Today, magic means many things: contemporary Wicca is practised widely as a modern pagan religion in Europe and the US; 'magic' also evokes the cathartic rituals of Chaos magic, but stretches to include the non-spiritual, rapid-fire sleight of hand performed by slick stage magicians who fill vast arenas. The book is packed with authoritative text and a huge and inspired selection of images, chosen from unusual and hidden sources. The material is presented in 100 entries, and includes some of the best-known representations of magic and the occult from around the world.… (més)
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Mielenkiintoista asiaa noituudesta yms. ehkä jopa liikaakiin yhteen kirjaan. Joka tapauksessa tämä kannattaa lukea jos kirjan nimessä olevat asiat kiinnostavat. ( )
  AceVonS | Jul 14, 2022 |
First of all, this book is heavy. And for good reason. Each page is a glossy, gorgeously crafted series of text and illustrations. Aesthetically, this book is absolutely gorgeous. The font is very gothic, the front and back covers are eye-catchingly laid-out, and each and every illustration is rendered in such detail that the only thing reminding you that it's not the real copy is the gloss.

The content of the book is - essentially - a summary of the history of the occult and magic since the beginning of human society. No mean feat. Dell manages to give insight and background to magic from the early humans, to the Middle Ages, to the Renaissance, to today. He does so with a critical eye - one that isn't dismissive of the subject, and one that gives weight to the topic. Whether or not magic is real, this book gives a detailed and respectful look at the history of the magical arts and sciences (and tricksters), with biographical insights to certain individuals. Reading this gives you a really good perspective and understanding on how magic has influenced and developed our society. For example, alchemy developed into the modern science of chemistry. The term "mesmerise" comes from the work of Dr Mesmer, who thought you could act upon individuals "from a distance".


Dell gives each section of history (arranged in chronological order) it's own depth and look. His style of writing is interesting and often mildly dry. But what gives Dell his killer edge in this book, is the sheer amount of detail and research he's done. And not just into western occultism, but also Eastern and native occultism. Dell draws links between the various world and historical cultures and makes it feel like there are similarities and links between their magicks. One could reasonably say, that after reading this book, the history of magic is more a history of humanity's desire to understand and change our environment and others, and the history of our interaction - he points out that western magic is influenced by Arabic scholars, Indian mysticisms, and ancient Druidic beliefs.


The only criticism of this book, is well... This book is really heavy. It makes it difficult to physically read.

Otherwise, I reccomend this book wholeheartedly to anyone interested in the occult or magic, in any shape or form.
( )
  yassie_j | Feb 11, 2019 |
The pictures are pretty but it's a bit all over the place, plus you have to go to the back of the book to get the picture credits to see if the illustration is contemporary to the topic being discussed or a later impression, which can be important because pictures can be coloured by culture, learning and biases and what the artists is commenting about.

This book left me wanting more, more detail, more information and defiintely a better time0line. It starts from very eurocentric classical history bias and runs through the european experience before including african and american and it's a fairly superficial look. Howver the bibliography is extensive.

An interesting coffee table book about magic and the occult. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Oct 17, 2018 |
Although 400 pages long, this book goes by all too quickly. I believe the longest section in the entire book was four pages, interspersed with heavy illustrations throughout. The illustrations are what propelled this book from a two star book to a three star - they are beautiful, incredibly detailed, and sourced at the back of the book as well as in footnotes at the bottom of each page. When it says an illustrated history, it means an illustrated history. There are probably more images than there is writing in the book. That isn't necessarily a bad thing.

While the book treats each subject very shortly, it does treat a vast array of subjects. Although every section is fleeting, it is more than enough to pique the imagination and make you want more. For a more thorough view of the histories this delves into [b: The Secret History of All Ages|36858068|Philosophical History of Free-Masonry and Other Secret Societies Or, the Secret Societies of All Ages Considered in Their Relations With, and Influence On, the Moral, Social, and Intellectual Progress of Man|Augustus C L Arnold|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/book/50x75-a91bf249278a81aabab721ef782c4a74.png|58626403] is the best bet, but this is a nice (and less daunting) introduction. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
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From the earliest Paleolithic cave rituals, magic has gripped the imagination. Magic and magicians appear in early Babylonian texts, the Bible, Judaism and Islam. Secret words, spells and incantations lie at the heart of every mythological tradition. Today, magic means many things: contemporary Wicca is practised widely as a modern pagan religion in Europe and the US; 'magic' also evokes the cathartic rituals of Chaos magic, but stretches to include the non-spiritual, rapid-fire sleight of hand performed by slick stage magicians who fill vast arenas. The book is packed with authoritative text and a huge and inspired selection of images, chosen from unusual and hidden sources. The material is presented in 100 entries, and includes some of the best-known representations of magic and the occult from around the world.

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