by David Carroll ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 28, 1974
A serious work of social and intellectual history this has nothing to do with the antics of contemporary Satanists and conjurers. Delving into ancient cosmologies, Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Medieval, Carroll makes a compelling case for the religious and dramatic functions of the magician's art and world view in every society, not excluding our own, which is filled with unnoticed remnants of animism, homeopathic thought, taboos, holy relics and secret charms. (""Covering a yawn was once believed to prevent demons from stealing into the mouth and hence away with the soul."") The first law of the magical universe, says Carroll, is the notion that ""every part of the whole equals that whole,"" that an absolute correspondence exists between the microcosm and the macrocosm, between man and the universe, both vitalized by the same energy system. In this light the homeopathic notion that like produces, attracts and effects like, becomes anything but preposterous -- thus, a Sioux hunter attracts elk by dancing in imitation of them, and a Roman centurion eats the eye of an owl to attain night vision. Carroll gathers his evidence for the omnipresence of magic as a function of psychic energy (""I believe there is no legitimate use of magic. There is only the magic state of being"") with the history of some fabled practitioners and malpractitioners includign Queen Elizabeth's occult adviser, John Dee, the 18th century Sicilian street Arab who became the Count of Cagliostro and the real and legendary Dr. Faust. The book is illustrated with obscure and fascinating woodcuts and engravings -- opposing views of the Devil, a Renaissance palmist's drawing of the human hand as a mirror of the cosmos, an illustration of Rhabdomancy or hunting for gold with a hazel wand, another of metoposcopy or divination by moles, a series of signs and gestures practiced in Sicily to repel the evil eye. An enticing excursion into magic, White as well as Black, divine as well as diabolical.
Pub Date: June 28, 1974
Page Count: -
Publisher: Arbor House
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974
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