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The Mirror of Magic: A History of Magic in the Western World, Kurt Seligman, Inner Traditions. This 1948 classic is a glorious synopsis of Western occult history, prepared by one of the most well-known Swiss Surrealist painters of his time. Though primarily known for his artwork, painter and engraver Kurt Seligman was also a practicing occultist and historian with a rather impressive mystical, antiquarian library. This is of course brought to the forefront in his Mirror of Magic, as he combs his personal stacks to bring the reader oodles of intriguing historical tidbits found nearly nowhere else around.
Those of us who have been in the game a while will be happy to see Seligman’s synopsis containing so many of the names and profiles of brilliant and influential occult minds now sadly missing from modern occult discourse. Names like Albertus Magnus, Pico della Mirandola, Roger Bacon, Iamblichus and our perpetual friend Agrippa.
The sheer number of classic illustrations and engravings is nearly worth the cover price alone, and Seligman does not merely show without telling. His descriptions and analyses of alchemical symbolism and mystical art trends are both inciteful and clever. Seligman’s book on a whole is a gem of historical magic, as beguiling now as it must have been when it was released 70 years ago.