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Real Magic: An Introductory Treatise on the Basic Principles of Yellow Magic Paperback – February 1, 1989
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Definitely something newa book both scholarly and readable. -- San Francisco Chronicle (1971)
Groundbreaking and thought provoking, this seminal work of magical theory was perhaps the first logical, rigorously sensible look at magic. -- PanGaia, Issue #37, Number 3 of
Groundbreaking, this seminal work of magical theory was perhaps the first logical, rigorously sensible look at magic. -- PanGaia, #3 of 13 Pagan Classics
If you're looking for a book that shoots straight and tells it like it is, this is it. -- CollegeWicca.com
Simply the best general textbook and overview of magic written in modern times. -- The Necronomicon Files
Top Customer Reviews
Bonewitz does not write a superstitious text. He claims "I am not anti-scientific... What I have objected to is the modern worship of science as an infallible source of truth, endowed with 'supernatural' powers over mortal men."
Early on, Bonewitz describes laws of magic, gleaned from multiple cultures and magical system. These include relatively obvious ideas, such as the Law of Knowledge (Knowledge is power & Know thyself) and esoteric ones, like the Law of True Falsehoods (If it's a paradox, it's probably true).
He considers parapsychology, doing a useful job of considering some phenomena, and a more dubious job of trying to explain them. Nevertheless, this chapter does a coherent job of postulating why "mainstream" science does not verify parapsychological claims.
One of the most important chapters considers the difference between "Black" and "White" magic. "The whole idea of White as Good and Black as Evil is purely the result of cultural bigotries." (p. 95) While magic, as any other tool, can be ethical or unethical, ethics are not a matter of "light" or "dark."
His most practical chapter is the one entitled Fundamental Patterns of Ritual. "The best spells and rituals are modern ones, written by yourself and designed to affect you personally, with your twentieth-century mind." (p.Read more ›
At this point you're probably wondering why I gave this book 5 stars.
The reason is because this book is phenomenal. I had to ignore, or at the very least wade through his smarmyness, but what I found when I did so was pure gold. He explains in perfect but simple detail the fact and opinion behind magical practice, from classical hermetics to modern parapsychology. I grew by leaps and bounds while I read it.
This work was the first of its kind: A truly interdisciplinary review of magic and paranormal phenomena. While the author can't be called non-biased (by any stretch of the imagination... on any topic), he is well-researched, logical and thorough. I cannot recommend any book more than this for a beginner in the realm of magic. I wish it had been my first.
Unlike many other books on such topics, Bonewits writes in a clear, academic style, with bits of dry wit sprinkled throughout. I found it as lucid to read as an issue of _Science Digest_, and a fair bit more entertaining (his comments on haruspicy, for instance, contain a real howler). _Real Magic_ is written such that the beginner will pick up on the broad strokes while perhaps not catching the finer bits of detail that reveal themselves with further attention. The more right-brained might find it dry, however, as Bonewits examines magic with the tools of various by academic disciplines (I have heard that Antero Alli's _Angel Tech_ may be more palatable for such, but I have not fully read that book).
Make no mistake, this book does focus on magical theory, and it does so from a viewpoint that excludes the concept of the supernatural. I would call it materialist as Bonewits does, but that term has confused people in the past. Bonewits ranges from discussions of common elements of ritual practice worldwide to attempts to explain magical effects using scientific principles. Though there are suggested practical exercises sprinkled throughout, the book is not organized around them.
For those looking for followup reading, _Real Magic_ has an extensive glossary and bibliography, though the age does show on both of them in spots.Read more ›
Oh, and about "the Druid thing" -- Bonewits is one. He's a co-founder, in fact, of the New and Reformed Druids, which began as a collegiate rebellion against mandatory chapel attendance at one school. Chapel attendance was mandatory, but no rule dared specify HOW students should worship, nor WHAT (nor WHOM) they should worship, so modern Druidism was born (along with many inebriated rituals with uisghebegh, literally, "the water of life"), and it grew into a substantial and academically respected religious tradition of the modern world. The scholarly work of Bonewits went far towards this development.
But nothing written by Bonewits for the laity is to be feared as too academically dry for a good read. Au contraire! Bonewits writes with good humor and self-effacement. He remarks, for instance, how the first edition's, "So you've decided that your mother-in-law has got to go" became the second edition's, "So you've decided that the local dictator has got to go...." Thus begins one of the few actual spells Bonewits presents, his spell for anger and destruction.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just theory mostly, not much instruction, except the basics on tools. I really want more details, description on results and action with possibilities...Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
P.E. Isaac Bonewits' "Real Magic", has, since the 1970s, been considered one of the foremost introductions to magic on the market. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Cryptic Counselor
This was the first practical guide to magic I got my hands on at the age of 13. Looking back after forty years, it is arrogant, pretentious, spiritually blind and about 50%... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Cynndara
Basic priciples and understandings of esoteric arts will become very clear after one honest exploration of this book! Read morePublished 11 months ago by 108
I love the writing style and the very subtle humor used by Isaac Bonewits. This has been the most comprehensive book I've read on this subject, and definitely the most enjoyable to... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Kindle Customer
This book is harsh. Very, very harsh. The author was not only a specialist and advanced practitioner of magic, but also a strict atheist and materialist who interpreted magic as a... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Alexander Gieg