'. . . as when iron is drawn to a magnet, camphor is sucked into hot air, crystal lights up in the Sun, sulfur and a volatile liquid are kindled by flame, an empty eggshell filled with dew is raised towards the Sun . . .'
An odd feature of the Bible is that it is full of stories featuring forms of magic and possession - from Joseph battling with Pharaoh's wizards to the supernatural actions of Jesus and his disciples. As, over the following centuries, the Christian church attempted to stamp out 'deviant' practices, there was a persistent interest in magic that drew strength from this Biblical validation. A strange blend of mumbo-jumbo, fraud and deeply serious study, magic was central to the European Renaissance, fascinating many of its greatest figures.
Brian Copenhaver's wonderful anthology will be welcomed by everyone from those with the most casual interest in the magical tradition to anyone drawn to the Renaissance and the tangled, arcane roots of the scientific tradition.