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Monday, May 9, 2011

The Book of English Magick


The Book of English Magick
Philip Carr-Gomm, Richard Heygate
John Murray Publishers, 2009

Philip Carr-Gomm an expert on Druidry has written a book that is a tour de force. Covering the magical history of Britain all the way from it's prehistoric Shamanistic beginning all the way up to the present. The book is comprehensive, informative and very interesting. if you are new to magic I advise you pick up a copy of this book and read it. The over view will help you get to where you want to go in the realm of magic.

Not only does the book offer a rich textured history of magic but it also comes with exercises the novice can do so they can get their feet wet. If you are a long term practitioner then this is your chance to dabble in something a bit outside of your field. For further exploration the book offers a treasure trove of web links and books for further exploration. Awesome.

Right now there are more magical practitioners in Britain then every before. The early prehistoric people began doing their Shamanistic practices in caves often times using chants, altered states of mind and visualization in order to control the world around them. 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. later on other people would find our they were connected by Ley lines. Originally they were straight line paths from one place to the next. Trade caravans and pilgrims followed these routes. in around 1925 it was theorized that these land lines were like energy routes and could be harness for magical practice. 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. many dowsers will tell you never to use dowsing for personal gain or unearned wealth. Druids who were the philosophers among the Celts rose to prominence. Their writing was using the Ogham alphabet. 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. it was a means of support. The second phase was more of a cultural celebration where in the Brits who joined still retained their Christian affiliation while practicing Celtic/druidic rites as a cultural thing. 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 1954 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.
The history of magic continues with descriptions of Alesister Crowley, Freemason The Golden Dawn all the way through Chaos Magick. 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.

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