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The Black Arts: A Concise History of Witchcraft, Demonology, Astrology, and Other Mystical Practices Throughout the Ages (Perigee) Paperback – January 17, 1968

4.3 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 373 pages
  • Publisher: TarcherPerigee; 40th Revised ed. edition (January 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399500359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399500350
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
_The Black Arts_ by Richard Cavendish covers a great many topics dealing with the magical arts, particularly black magic. According to Cavendish, the primary motivating factor behind black magic is the hunger for power. This is expressed in the biblical story of the Garden of Eden in Genesis where the serpent tempts Adam and Eve by telling them that if they ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil they would be as gods. The traditional Christian perspective is that the black magician invokes demons or Satan himself and that his power comes from the Dark One. The magician however may believe that man and God are inseparable or that man can attain Godhood. The author begins by noting how magical principles operate, being based on the ideas of imitation, mimickry, and analogy. One fundamental principle believed in by most magicians is expressed by the phrase "as above, so below" meaning that the macrocosm is a reflection of the microcosm and vice versa. Indeed, it is in the writings attributed to the semi-mythical Hermes Trismegistus ("thrice-greatest Hermes") that this principle is most clearly expressed. In most traditional cultures, the left hand side is associated with evil, explaining why black magic is often regarded as the Left Hand Path among magicians. Cavendish next turns his attention to the modern magicians, including such figures as the notorious Aleister Crowley, Eliphas Levi, MacGregor Mathers, and A. E. Waite. The influence of secret societies such as the Golden Dawn and the O. T. O. of Crowley are explained and their role in the practices of these magicians is examined. Following this, Cavendish turns his attention to the mysteries of numbers and numerology. He explains how fortunes can be told by numbers associated with each letter in a name.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the best-written, most lucid accounts of black magic that I've read, and believe me, I've read a lot of them. I don't care if Cavendish believes a word of it, his review of what's what is fun.
Usually, the sceptics are too busy de-bunking, and the believers too busy being credulous, so the whole subject ends up being tedious. Unless, of course, you are determined to try some magic yourself, in which case, you will need all the credulity you can muster. Cavendish treats it all with a light hand, and gives a nice overview of the subject.
Have fun. Read this before you plunge into the study of the occult - it'll save you a lot of floundering around.
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Format: Paperback
Being a natural cynic, i ordered this book more with the idea of picking holes in every single arguement it put forward, rather than as a serious interest of mine. When i recieved it, my first reaction was, " my god, what a cheezy cover!". Not being one to judge a book by the proverbial, however, i soon delved into the dubious pleasures inside... and was actually pleasantly surprised. Instead of preaching to the unconverted or unconvertable, Mr Cavendish has put forward a fine, well researched report into many different areas of the "black arts", from numerology to black magic, without sounding pretentious or subscribing to the usual "bow down to your master" playground psychology that these sort of authors usually find themselves hankering after. Hence he makes the book not only readable, but also very enjoyable, and in parts even made me wonder if there was more to all this mumbo-jumbo than first meets the eye. Well done, sir!
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Format: Paperback
Cavendish's book is interesting insofar as it comes from an unusual perspective for those writing about the so-called Black Arts. His Christian bias is obvious, and nearly all examples he gives are shown through a Christian filter, but--unlike so many others--he isn't preachy. He doesn't condemn or support any of the practices within the book--this isn't a how-to guide or a religious tract, after all--despite his constant returns to the subejct of devil- or demon-worship. The quality of writing is fair and stays reasonably engaging throughout. The chief failing of this book--aside from the bias and emphasis on demon-worship--is his attempt to cover so much material in so little space. The chapter on the Kabbalah is particularly confused and rushed. He brushes past a great number of important details and doesn't always elaborate on his own discussions enough for the reader to pick up on the key details necessary for understanding.
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Format: Paperback
This was my first book on the Arcane Arts. I was 14 years old, when I started reading this book. It covers a lot of different areas of the Hidden Arts.The Book is well detailed, the bibliography within the book, is great for neophytes knew to the Arts, as well as, those seasoned in the Way and looking into areas that my be of further study.In retrospect from when I begin reading and studying this book, and applying the Arts. I feel, it is a great general read. The book focuses a lot on Western Esoteric Art. I still have the book in my Library/Den. It is well worth purchasing for the knowledge within, as with most Esoteric Books, those drawn to this area, are explorers, wanting to expand ones consciousness. It has been on my book shelf for over 35 years. Always enjoy coming back to read/study the House of Cavendish, "Black Arts."... a Great follow up to this book would be "The Magicians Companion" by Whitcomb....
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