The Black Arts: A Concise History of Witchcraft, Demonology, Astrology, and Other Mystical Practices Throughout the Ages (Perigee)
Product ID : 11053707
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40th Revised Ed.
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The Classic Study of the Occult Reintroduced in a 50th Anniversary Edition
The Black Arts is a fascinating and wonderfully readable exploration of the practice, theory, and underlying rationale of magick and occultism in all its branches, including witchcraft, spells, numerology, astrology, alchemy, kabbalah, tarot, charms, and summoning and control of spirits. This edition features a 50th anniversary introduction by historian of alternative spirituality Mitch Horowitz, who frames the book for a new generation of readers.
“We are all black magicians in our dreams, in our fantasies, perversions, and phobias... In
The Black Arts, Richard Cavendish has not only gathered many fascinating facts from the past and from our own time; he has also presented the philosophy of the black magicians and gives many excellent interpretations of their symbols and rites. He has done all this in such a concise and readable style that the reader is hardly aware of how much effort has gone into this work and how original are many of its ideas and interpretations ...Works such as Cavendish’s are a reminder that we are living in an era of amnesia. We have forgotten those vital truths that man once knew and by whose strength he lived.” —
Isaac Bashevis Singer, Book Week
The Black Arts, Cavendish captures the human striving and universality behind the magical search. He also demonstrates virtuosity for explaining ancient and more recent rituals, rites, and esoteric philosophies with splendid clarity … It stands nearly alone as a simultaneously comprehensive and inviting guide to the world of pre-modern esoterica.”—
Mitch Horowitz, from the new introduction
About the Author
Richard Cavendish (1930-2016) was a highly regarded and widely published British historian of magic, myth, and the occult. Educated at Oxford, Cavendish is best remembered for
The Black Arts (1967) and for editing the acclaimed 24-volume
Man, Myth & Magic: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Supernatural, published from 1970 to 1972.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
The World of the Black Magician
The driving force behind black magic is hunger for power. Its ultimate aim was stated, appropriately enough, by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were afraid that if they ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil they would die. But the serpent said 'Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil'.* In occultism the serpent is a symbol of wisdom, and for centuries magicians have devoted themselves to the search for the forbidden fruit which would bring fulfilment of the serpent's promise. Carried to its furthest extreme, the black magician's ambition is to wield supreme power over the entire universe, to make himself a god.
Black magic is rooted in the darkest levels of the mind, and this is a large part of its attraction, but it is much more than a product of the love of evil or a liking for mysterious mumbo-jumbo. It is a titanic attempt to exalt the stature of man, to put man in the place which religious thought reserves for God. In spite of its crudities and squalors this gives it a certain magnificence.
The great fascination of magic is in the type of thought on which it is based. Magical thinking is not random, it has its own laws and its own logic, but it is poetic rather than rational. It leaps to conclusions which are usually scientifically unwarranted, but which often seem poetically right. It is a type of thinking which has been prevalent all through the history of Europe, which lies behind huge areas of our religion, philosophy and literature, and which is a major guide-post to the regions of the spiritual and the supernatural, the regions of which science has nothing to say. There is no necessity to accept it, but it rings many a far-away, summoning bell