What is a grimoire? The word has a familiar ring to many people, particularly as a consequence of such popular television dramas as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But the grimoire represents much more than just magic. As this book richly demonstrates, the history of grimoires illuminates many of the most. Review: Grimoires: A History of Magic Books by Owen DaviesJad Adams finds a mixture of the sacred and profane in books of spells.

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The book also adds a very large footnote to Hutton’s and others’ work on the rise of magic amongst the elite in the industrialising West. Buy the selected items together This item: There are a plethora of texts mentioned, many of which I discover have been digitised, names of magicians in each period, many of whom were conmen as is to be expected and some terrific anecdotal stories of grimoire use and misuse.

Choose your country or region Close. But few people mqgic sure exactly what it means. Davies is excellent in tracing their path from Europe into the New World magc other Western colonies and back and forward across Europe, linking their influence to practical factors such as the availability boooks the printing press and the willingness and determination of the authorities to suppress them. Benjamin Franklin’s spoof astrological booke Poor Richard’s Almanack was circulated as the genuine esoteric article, but in fact gave a rationalist message within the binding of a grimoire.

A good interdisciplinary book in religion, sociology, anthropology, and history.

Grimoires: A History of Magic Books: Owen Davies: : Books

John Dee’s graveyard excursion was not novel. At their most benign, these repositories of bokos knowledge revealed how to make historu talismans and protective amulets, and provided charms and conjurations for healing illness, finding love, and warding off evil. The methods of securing these ends are similarly diverse, and range from channeling astral influences to signing pacts with the Devil himself.

I loved the writer’s approach to telling the story of the books themselves, more like a colorful anthropological study of the cultures from which they cameā€¦ A fascinating history!

The Secrets of Solomon: Books by Owen Davies. After the reader reaches the th centuries, it becomes an easier read. A History of Magic Books. Perhaps this may be one clue to the determination of the authorities to suppress the grimoire – in its cack-handed way, the grimoire says that no intermediation is required between the punter and his book.


The pulp novelist HP Lovecraft wrote of oen fictional grimoire, the Necronomicon.

However, some may be disappointed by the low degree of coverage of certain texts. The spiritual content bookss these early modern books is minimal despite the attempts of later generations to read back their own spiritual searchings into the grubby grab for power and money of what probably amounted no doubt with exceptions to a succession of charlatans, fraudsters, small time criminals and half-educated cunning folk determined to prey for profit on the unhappiness of the masses.

Lots of information, very dense, sometimes tedious. Some would call this embellishment but if it is all about spirituality where truth is paramount I would call it flat out lies. Not the most dynamically written account, but very informative and interesting.

Enlightenment and Treasure 4. Since this book is written mzgic a lay reader in mind, some topics aren’t explored as much as one might hope this doesn’t hinder the book, but it is worth pointing out for anyone interested in studying folkloric aspects of magicbut s book byy have a detailed Further Reading section that lists other books that would be useful for anyone studying the history of magic with possible primary sources some titles listed included anthologies of Greco-Roman and Coptic sources.

Magic moments

At their most benign, these repositories of forbidden knowledge revealed how to make powerful talismans and protective am No books have been more feared than grimoires, and no books have been more valued and revered. The word maic a familiar ring to many people, particularly as a consequence of such popular television dramas as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed.

Jun 06, Alison rated it really liked it. Apparently Oxford University Press decided that copy editors cost too much.

Davies traces the history of this remarkably resilient and adaptable genre, from the ancient Middle East to modern America, offering a new perspective on the fundamental developments of western civilization over the past two thousand years. Sep 23, Corbin rated it it was amazing.

His previous books include The Haunted: Before we get hyper-critical about their provenance, we might ask just how reliable the claims of divine authorship of the books of the Bible or the Koran are if we really, really think about this instead of accepting claims on faith. Learn more about Amazon Prime.


One common theme from earliest times until quite recently has been the use of such texts to discover treasure by calling up demons and dark spirits and then binding and interrogating them to reveal it. A History of Magic Books is one of those rare treats of extensive scholarship that is a pleasure to read. I was also unfamiliar with 19th and 20th century publications and their effects on Europe and South America. No trivia or quizzes yet. Why they used them, much less so.

He happily includes the diabolic but not the divinatory, discussing Paracelsus but dismissing or omitting the “usual” cures that reflect the spread of his beliefs and methods occult sympathy and chemically derived ingredients, for instance.

Aug 17, Mankey rated it really liked it. When her house was searched in twenty-five manuscript volumes on the occult sciences were found. Smoking Typewriters John McMillian.

Owen Davies is a dispassionate commentator in an area which all too often can attract cranks and fools and he tells this history with nuance and distance that is to be respected.

But at their most sinister they provide instructions on how to manipulate people for corrupt purposes and, worst of all, to call up and make a pact with the Devil. My primary concern is that I couldn’t help quibbling with the points Davies made on subjects I do know pretty well, especially when it comes to the variety of ways that early modern women and medical practitioners engaged with the magical world.

Feb 24, Katharine Kerr rated it liked it. Some would c Three things hit you in the head upon reading this book all the way through. Threaded throughout is the really satisfying theme that although so much magic is rooted in falsehood and myth-making, those foundational lies somehow matter very little to anyone drawn to the subject.

Learn daview about Amazon Giveaway. Before only monasteries grimoirse popes and university libraries had grimoiis bu now eevery one had them.