Book Review – The Mirror of Magic: A History of Magic in the Western World by Kurt Seligman

Book Review
The Mirror of Magic
A History of Magic in the Western World
Author Kurt Seligman
Original Copyright date 1948

Mirror of Magic is a comparative religion book. It starts with Mesopotamia and goes all the way to the 18th century.

I’m one of those people that I make lots of notes whenever I’m reading a book. So, with this book, I’ve made seven pages of notes. In one of the notes that I made on Mesopotamia, it talks about how the Gods were always reminded of the misfortune of mortals. I did find it interesting that back in Mesopotamia, there is no moral distinction between good or bad, or light and dark, spiteful forces could live side by side with charitable ones. It was believed that man would have been prayed to chaos had he not employed the magical arts to protect him against evil influences. In this dualistic world, both evil and good, or light and dark are worshiped alike.

I had always known in the back of my head that the Jewish faith had more than one Deity at one point in their history. This book explores that all of that some of the names of those duties. For me one of the most telling sentences is in the part of this book, on the Hebrew faith, is “they were preoccupied with the life to come after death — unknown to the old religion of Moses. They longed for the establishment of a heavenly Kingdom that would mark the end of their hopeless struggle.”

I also found the chapter on Alchemy interesting, starting with the very first quote by Basil Valentine: “This operation, like the ancients, is the truth convenient for women.” Zosimus declared that knowledge of metals, precious stones incense dated back to the epic mentioned furtively in the book of Genesis—”The sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair.” According to Mr. Seligmann, the ancients (whoever those people maybe) believed that this was the beginning of alchemy, these were fallen Angels teaching mortal women the art of alchemy in exchange for mundane pleasures. The chapter on alchemy even goes on to explore the philosopher’s stone and Nicholas Flamel. Now with this book being written in 1948, there is a lot of stuff in it both the old stuff and about Nicholas Flamel that have now changed, with archaeology and other Sciences teaching us more about the past. But this is still an exciting part of the book.

The chapter in witchcraft I found interesting. There are different parts of transcripts from trials; there are various things written in court papers that are presented in this book; I don’t remember seeing or reading anyplace else. It’s one of the longer chapters in the book, but it’s informative about history.

There’s so much more exciting stuff in this book that I couldn’t possibly cover it all in this review. But this is a book I’m glad to have in my library. The Mirror of Magic is a book that I will go back and reread, and I’ll write more notes. It is also a book that has led me to research more of the history of magic, paganism, witchcraft, and even Judeo Christian beliefs.

The Mirror of Magic: A History of Magic in the Western World on Amazon


About the Author:

Dawn Borries loves reading and was thrilled to become a Reviewer for PaganPages.Org. Dawn, also, has been doing Tarot and Numerology readings for the past 25 years. Dawn does readings on her Facebook page. If you are interested in a reading you can reach her on Facebook @eagleandunicorn.