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The Book of English Magic

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  352 ratings  ·  36 reviews
The Book of English Magic explores the curious and little-known fact that of all the countries in the world, England has the richest history of magical lore and practice. English authors such as J.R.R.Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Terry Pratchett, and J.K.Rowling, dominate the world of magic in fiction, but from the earliest times, England has also acted as home to generations of e ...more
Hardcover, 562 pages
Published June 2009 by John Murray (first published January 1st 2009)
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The book is really pretty, but I am kind of disappointed in the content.

I feel like it's been poorly edited, too. For example, here's a pretty eyebrow-raising error with regards to astrology signs. 6 signs were mixed up, and it wasn't caught in editing. I feel like if you're trying to teach people what their sign is (this segment was doing that) then you ought to be sure you leave them knowing what their sign really looks like.

Yeah. Wonky. There's a lot of superfluous stuff in here, and while th
Nimue Brown
If you read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel, and wondered what the real history of English magic looked like, then this book is, quite simply, the answer. Not quite as glamorous as Clarke’s fictional world, or the magical England of Harry Potter, it is none the less a history resplendent with strangeness, eccentricity and curiosities. This book brings together the real stories those writing about fictional English magic have been drawing on all along. For anyone interested in the literary angle, ...more
A beautiful book, but disappointing. I wanted more STUFF, not a bunch of warmed-over mythology. Interviews with current Wiccans & self-proclaimed sorcerers aside, this is a collection of half-truths (so which trees were sacred? Which parts? What did "magicians" do with them?) and outright misinformation (the Druids did NOT build Stonehenge, which predates their arrival in Britain).
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
Tim Pendry
I cannot praise this book enough both for its content and its style. It is a hefty tome at over 500 pages but beautifully bound and (once you get over the odd use of a lighter typeface for 'practitioner' contributions) designed. It may not be cheap (25) but it is excellent value.

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 magi
A book that definitely falls between two stools, The Book of English Magic is both an introduction to magic for the novice practitioner and a historical analysis of the various traditions that make up the wildly diverse body of esoteric thought and practice in England. As such, it's not very satisfying in either aspect: the suggestions for practitioners are somewhat undercut by the more rational analysis, and the rational analysis is undercut by the suggestions for practitioners. It's hard to ta ...more
Steve Cran
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
Bri Saussy
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. One of the aspects of the book I like best is that each chapter comes with a recommended reading list that covers both primary source material pertinent to the chapter’s subject as well as fiction wo ...more
A very interesting book giving an overview of magical practices throughout the history of England. Including practical tasks to try out, places to visit and a wealth of suggested reading material for anyone wanting to find out more information.

It did feel that some areas were glossed over, where I would have liked more detail, but at over 500 pages how much more can you put in without becoming too weighty?!

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in finding out more about the rich tapest
David Pantano
A fairly comprehensive overview of magic in the English world, more than than a book of English Magic, which strictly speaking doesn't exist, with the exception of the new-brew Chaos Magic. The authors Carr-Gomm and Heygate do a good job of covering a broad range of topics including the history, organizations, personages, types, techniques and lore associated with magic in the Isle of Albion. As to be expected from a book of this nature, the topics are light on philosophical discourse and heavy ...more
Allyson Shaw
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.
Harley Pope
The book provides a sweeping overview of English magic. It's a bit of a potted history, and some other reviewers have questioned it's accuracy and pointed out some mistakes, although I didn't see anything too glaringly obvious that would detract from the reading experience. Sadly, on the whole the individual taster exercises suggested towards the end of each chapter felt a bit gimmicky and lacking depth or power.

However, the book excels at presenting the history of magic in an exciting and acces
Bodhidasa Caldwell
An entertaining and informative, if flawed, read. The structure was what impressed me most. The author provides us with a history drawn from the mystery that is the early magickal traditions of England. It is just one possible history, of course. With this we have selective fictional and 'factual' bibliographies and some gentle explorative activities to give one a sense of the content explored, for example finding the celestial influences in ones own astrological chart (if you are into that sort ...more
Basic overview of magic in England over the ages. Not enough detail, but interesting nonetheless.
Miranda Boyer
A wonderful comprehensive beginners guide to the history of occult magic in England.
Michael Kelly
This is the best overview of the history, traditions and personalities of magic in England that I have ever read.

It's broad enough in scope to give the reader a complete overview, it's full of hints and tips for further study (and practice) for those who wish to add flesh to these bones, and it charmingly champions eccentricity.

It comes across as warm and chattily enthusiastic instead of dryly academic, and the frequent diversions to discuss personalities, with contributions by several notable m
Somebody said that this is more of a magic travel guide than a book about magic. That's probably an accurate description of its content. I would recommend reading it if you're interested in English/British history since much of the related lore would explain why certain things were done in English culture. It also gives explanation to possible purposes for places like Stone Henge beyond the usual 'it was an observatory' idea.
Initially, it was its cover that attracted my attention when I was wandering in the library. I picked it up, flipped through a few page, thinking I knew nothing about magic except for Harry Potter. So it went back to the shelf. After a few minutes, I had a sense that "hey just borrow it! there is no harm anyway!"

Perhaps that was a magic?

The book has given me a lot of knowledge on British history and many things that I had never heard e.g. Abbas Giant. It is so interesting and has given me a lot
I had high hopes for this book...should have read the reviews...
Olivia Waite
A marvelous overview of English magical history and tradition, with many suggestions for further reading and many leaping-off points for the imagination (which is really what I was reading it for, so hooray!). Part of me wished for a more linear narrative, but the other parts of me were too busy having fun and enjoying the view into an unknown-to-me subculture.
This is a great introduction to Magic. It straddles the line of history book and new age how to book. The authors aren't afraid to point out how the truth differs from popular beliefs about the origins of certain schools of thought. But they also present a view that the "truth" lies somewhere in between the history and the myth.
Interesting - but it only touches the very surface of the subject matter... which is a shame. I did however enjoy the many tellings of all the historical peoples who helped caracterize England as the most influential country when it comes to Magic... both philosophically and religously.
Anne Reynolds
Christina Oakley-Harrington, the owner of Treadwell's in London, recommended this book to me. It is a wonderful introduction to all aspects of magic, witchcraft, ghosts and the paranormal. I couldn't put it down and will refer to it often in my writing. Thanks Christina
This is a wonderful book! It is amazing how detailed it is. The authors go into the history of so many aspects of English magic and it's really wonderful. I haven't finished it completely--but it's a heavy book. It can at times be rather dry so take your time when reading this.
Bryan Boring Van Unen
I was admittedly intimidated by the size of the book, but I knew Philip and Richard would deliver. Not only was this book informative (despite the inaccuracies pointed out by another review), but it was fun to read. I couldn't put it down.
Interesting, especially if you like English magic and fantasy authors, simply because it brings out a world that you would most likely have never seen without it. Druid meetings, divinations, J.R.R. Tolkien... a magical history of english magic.
Found myself oddly disappointed in this overview of the history of magic in England. Unsure of the intended audience, as the real value in this text was for the bibliography and recommended resources.
The history sections of this book were interesting, but that's about it. Others have pointed out several inaccuracies which caused me to take this book with a big grain of salt.
The authors of this book believe in magic (and they're not referring conjuring tricks). I found it interesting most of all as a source of reference.
Jessie B.
This is a strange book, both a history, a look at current occult practices and even a how to book.
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Philip Carr-Gomm was born in London, raised in Notting Hill Gate, and educated at Westminster School and University College London.

He met his first spiritual teacher, Ross Nichols, the founder of The Order of Bards Ovates & Druids, when he was 11. He began studying with him when a teenager, and joined the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids at 18. He studied meditation with Olivia Robertson in Ir
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“Ultimately, the purpose of magic is to free our potential, not bind us to ideas.” 9 likes
“The risks involved in the pursuit of magic are--put simply--either getting frightened by unpleasant perceptions or becoming deluded. Unfortunately it is possible to suffer from both symptoms at the same time.” 6 likes
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