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The Book of Black Magic Paperback – March 30, 2004

3.7 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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From the Publisher

Kessinger Publishing reprints over 1,500 similar titles all available through Amazon.com. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

A.E. Waite (1857-1942) is one of the best-known authors and translators of magic and the occult. He is the creator of the Rider-Waite tarot and is the author of several books including Book of Black Magic and Pictorial Keys to the Tarot.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Weiser Books (March 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877282072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877282075
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #384,919 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Arthur Edward Waite (1860-1942) was a professed mystic, an historian of mysticism, alchemy, magic, and secret societies, an industrious translator, and a man unusually willing to turn 180 degrees from a published opinion when faced with new and better evidence. His variously titled "Book of Black Magic and of Pacts" (1898, privately printed; public edition, 1911), or "Book of Ceremonial Magic," etc. (it is currently in print under the latter title as well), shows Waite rejecting the misinformation and misrepresentations of his old source and model, "Eliphas Levi" (real name Alphonse Louis Constant, c.1810-1875) and his sometime-associate in the Order of the Golden Dawn, S.L. MacGregor Mathers (1854-1918), and trying to offer the interested public a responsible survey of the literature of ceremonial magic.

The book in question, under a variety of similar titles, is frequently reprinted, although it is now very badly dated. Most of those editions I have seen seemed to be identical; I can't be sure of all them. The present, Weiser, edition, seems to be a reprinting of the original, somewhat shorter, and apparently less (or un-)illustrated, edition of 1898. (I would like to be clearer, but it's been several years since I actually handled it, and, to judge from information on Amazon, some of my recollections of it seem to have been wrong.)

In any version, the book also contains a number of oversights and errors of fact, but it retains considerable value and interest, and is worth reading with care, and *critical* attention.
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Format: Paperback
The so-called "Book of Black Magic" is more or less a compendium of some of the more infamous medieval grimoires such as the Red Dragon, the Grimoire of Honorius, etc. The book is worth the price for the sheer ammount of knowledge contained within. The general occult public is sometimes hardpressed to gain access to medieval manuscripts and grimoires or is not willing to pay an exorbitant fee for copies form the Bristish Museum. Even then, one must contend with the Middle English dialect (although a company called IGOS sells translated copies of many noteworthy grimoires) and the occaisional swear, crack, or scorch mark on the document. It is for this reason that the "Book of Black Magic" is a worthy addition to your shelf. Although the information is presented lucidly and translated the reader must still contend with the horrible illustrations of Waite (a true disgrace to produce a book with such poorly drawn sigils and seals), not to mention his sheer verbosity. In effect it is a trade-off......we gain this pure compendium knowledge at the high price of reading the pompous (and often inane) outpourings of A.E. Waite. Had this book been written as a sheer compilation without the annoying commentaries by Mr. Waite it would have been a 10. If you can filter his footnotes (which are longer than the book) it is a most worthwhile experience.

--Maofas
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By A Customer on May 25, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you've already got "The Book of Ceremonial Magick," then you don't need this. This book includes the second half of the aforementioned volume, and nothing more. Also, the writing style is a bit strange, very archaic, and includes mostly essays about Magick and different types of spiritual practices. Not exactly useful for anyone getting into Magick for the first time, but it does include information on the darker side, and probably what to avoid doing if you don't want to get bad karma.
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Basically a comparative compendium of several of the classic grimoires, it is quite reasonable as a sort of primer for those with an interest in the style of magic written about 5 centuries or so ago. I do not expect most modern wiccans would care for the attitudes and methods represented, but whether they like it or not, it is how magic was done and still is done by some.
Due to the rather comparative nature of the work, it was necessary for Waite to be rather sketchy in his examination of the grimoires. That is quite forgivable. He made no claim that he was including the ancient texts word for word, or even complete instruction from them.
As a sort of sampler, it is quite excellent. A person interested in the darker sides of magic can use this book to find what they might be looking for and then seek the actual text Waite quoted from in his excerpts. The older the better, since the modern reprints sometimes have left out bits the publishers feared might be "objectionable".
My one real displeasure in the reading was noting Waite's comment on the formula referred to as "The Composition of Death", where he mentions that it appears to him that the formula would result in a liquid rather than a powder. This indicated that he settled for available english translation of the time and did not bother to check the older versions. If he had, he would have known that the formula in the english version was incomplete.
That small displeasure was more than balanced by his reminder to readers that while in modern times the sacrifice of a lamb or goat to get parchment may seem bloodthirsty, it was an everyday occurrence since paper was not actually available when many of the old grimoires were written.
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