The Mirror of Magic
A History of Magic in the Western World
by 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 like seven pages of notes. I made a note of, in Mesopotamia, when it talks about how the Gods were reminded of the misfortune of mortals. 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 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 all of that and some of the names of those deities. For me, one of the most telling sentences is; 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. This book having been written in 1948, there is a lot of stuff in it about Nicholas Flamel that has 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 this book presents. 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 not about the practice.
There’s so much exciting stuff in this book that I couldn’t possibly cover it all in this book 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.
About the Author:
Dawn Borries is a prolific reader, having 3 books going at any given time. Dawn uses Tarot cards, Intuitive insights, and Numerology in her sessions with clients. She is also an Ordained Minister, Reiki and La Ho Chi Practitioner and Master. She is a certified EFT and TFT Counselor. Dawn calls herself a Spiritual Counselor, and Unicorn Lover. She can be found @eagleandunicorn on Facebook or @eagle_unicorn on Twitter.