Book Review – The Mirror of Magic: A History of Magic in the Western World by Kurt Seligmann

Book Review

The Mirror of Magic: A History of Magic in the Western World by Kurt Seligmann (1900-1962)

Collector’s Edition

Inner Traditions 2018


I am somewhat at a loss here as I cannot say enough about this book. In part it is because of the memories I have from when I came across an earlier edition on the second floor of a used bookstore in Philadelphia, May of 1986. I was looking through the stacks, enjoying the fact that this bookstore not only existed, but was one of many such stores, and unlike those in my hometown, real books such as Seligmann’s classic The Mirror of Magic could be found in it.  I also was blessed enough to obtained a copy of Paul Christian’s The History and Practice of Magic on a later trip. I was in town to pick up my girlfriend at the time and spend a weekend in Atlantic City, whereupon I was promptly sunburned to a nice bright pinkish-red hue. Not quite the color of the Philosopher’s Stone, but I could have given a deity or two a run for their money.  The book stayed with me far longer than she did, and I eventually parted with my copy, a hardcover.  Men can be such fools when it comes to their books and their women. So, to have a hardback edition, and one of such exquisite quality, is not only a reminder of a different time, but a reading pleasure as well.

As the title states this is the ‘Collector’s Edition’ because of its physical production quality, but also because only a book of tremendous value is worth such effort – and Mirror of Magic is such a book worthy of that effort. Containing over 250 black and white illustrations, in excess of 500 pages, and indexed, the book measures at a standard 7×10 inches, sitting nicely on your shelf. The addition of an attractive dustjacket, silver stamped magic circle on the cover, and red cloth bookmark all add to its attractiveness.  Mirror of Magic has stayed in print (under different titles) since first appearing in 1948, and deservedly so.  Many of the illustrations are from Seligmann’s personal library, and the text reflects a deep understanding of the various expressions of magical and esoteric philosophy and practice across the ages.

Whether you are a collector or a practitioner, this books will be a treasure in your library. In fact, it makes a fabulous gift for someone you know who appreciates quality.   However, please, do yourself the favor and purchase the hardcover edition despite the availability of an e-book. This book is a treasure.


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