Originally published by Mowbrays of Oxford, then reissued as Magic of the Western Mind by Llewellyn, A History of White Magic was an attempt by a then up-and-coming author (in his words) to “explain to the intelligent layperson that an interest in magic was not so weird or deviant as is generally assumed.”
In retrospect we can say it’s a good deal more than that as Gareth Knight, in keeping with the ancient craft of the historical annalist, chronicles the sphere of magical influence from classical antiquity to the modern lodge, arcing through ancient mystery religions, early church theology, Medieval lore, Renaissance science, society manifestos, to the magical fraternities of the last century.
But rather than just being historically encyclopaedic, the author weaves an organic fabric from the spindles of various Western traditions without ever allowing sensationalism to unravel the work (as other authors working in the milieu are sometimes wont to do). For Knight, Magic is the bridge between Science and Religion, but one that has been detonated by misconception, fear, and at times, wilful ignorance. He urges the reader to make the reconnection by utilising Coleridge’s Theory of the Imagination as a master mason’s tool, one that can be wielded in all processes of human cognition and thought. Readers will get to meet many shadowy figures recently subjected to tabloid treatment at the hands of commercial scribblers (Bruno, Gordiano, Ficino, Fludd, Dee, Bacon, etc.) – but in a truer and more illuminating light. Knight teaches us to discern between theurgy and thaumaturgy, between the true magus and the vain trickster – and ultimately how Magic is still relevant to the modern world.
A History of White Magic is available from most book trade outlets, or direct from our website.