A Starting Occult Library, Part 2

After my previous post about assembling an occult library, we had some suggestions in the comments.   I’ll add that most of these would have been included if that post had been longer, but that means I’m likely on the right track.  We’ll start with Enoch:

When I read the words “Cthulhu Mythos and the occult” I assumed he was looking for works on the overlapping of the two subjects, like in the works of Grant, Hine, and Satanis.

I got the sense from the writer that this isn’t what he meant.  Really, in my opinion, the only book you need on that topic is Phil Hine’s Pseudonomicon.  I’d add Kenneth Grant’s The Magical Revival as the origin point for much of Lovecraftian occultism (though hardly the first work on the topic), but it’s now around $200.

Dave-ID says:

As far as old voluminous tomes on history goes, if you can get them I think Thorndike is the most accurate (for the time anyway!). I like the books in Penn States “Magic in History” series. Includes some classics by E.M. Butler and a lot of new material.

Thorndike’s History of Magic and Experimental Science is definitely a wonderful series.  It has its problems – it’s really a history of experimental science and magic’s influence thereon, which means it gets progressively less interesting to magic scholars as it proceeds.  The main barrier here is the price, though some volumes are available in cheap reprints.

I’d definitely concur on the Penn State Magic in History series, especially on E. M. Butler’s Ritual Magic.  I haven’t read a single bad one in the series, and I’ve read most (Unlocked Books being the most recent).  Still, you should buy in the series based on your interests, or pick up some copies on the cheap.

Finally, we have Phil:

I think Keith Thomas’ Religion and the Decline of Magic is useful not just for the witchcraft angle, but for filling in the greater social context in which works like Turner’s English translations of the Fourth Book and Ars Notoria and Scot’s Discovery were published…

McLean’s edition of the Magical Calendar makes a valuable appendix to Book II of Agrippa’s Occult Philosophy, but also see Joe’s note about further research into the sources of this…

I’d agree that Thomas’ book is dated but nonetheless a good source, and that the Magical Calendar is a useful source once you’ve got a work such as Agrippa’s already.  You can find Joe Peterson’s comments on the topic here.

Keep those suggestions coming.  I’m going to branch out shortly to some other fields of interest.

UPDATE:  I know I said I couldn’t pick out a good general work on the history of magic, but, um, this guy has, and I suppose I should agree with him.

Published in: on February 10, 2009 at 5:58 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Thanks very much for making these posts! I’ve been interested in building an occult collection for several years but didn’t know of a good starting point.


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