Magic and writing have a close association, in terms of subject, structure and in the creation of literature itself. Magic is a ‘pretended’ or ‘hidden principle’, which uses the supernatural, or ‘some occult controlling principle of nature’ (OED). Magic therefore works in the way that mythic or metaphorical literary writing does, in seeking to reveal hidden connections and truths. Writers have always used the trickery of fictional invention, the hidden meanings of symbol, myth and psychology to achieve depth, as well as natural and supernatural motifs, both in their writing and in its process of invention.
The direct connection of myth to magic is then in the symbolic and in the supernatural. The natural and psychological processes myths suggest can also link myth to magic. Literary writing and myth are connected to magic again by their approach to the mysterious elements of creativity. Like myth and creativity, magic has change as a central concern.
The history of magic, both as a subject for writing, with its colourful characters and events, and in its use of ritual and archetype and with its themes of transformation, offers many possibilities for writing. The classes will range from discussions of the themes outlined above through different ways of relating magic to writing and creativity in theory and practical application.
Good preparatory/ background reading: Colin Wilson’s The Occult. Lindsay Clarke’s novel The Chymical Wedding. Also The Occult World, by Christopher Partridge (Routledge, 2016; in library). For historical view, try Owen Davies’ Magic: A Very Short Introduction. Edited by Glenn Alexander Magee, The Cambridge Book of Western Mysticism and Esotericism (2016; in library). LATE ADDITION The Magic Of Writing, Adrian May (2018).
Baring-Gould, Sabine. Curious Myths of the Middle Ages. 1866.
Bede. Ecclesiastical History of the English People.
Bettelheim, Bruno. The Uses of Enchantment. Knopf: New York, 1976.
Bierce, Ambrose. The Enlarged Devil’s Dictionary. Penguin: Harmondsworth, 1967.
Borges, Jorge Luis. The Book of Imaginary Beings. Penguin: Harmondsworth, 1974.
Brunvand, Jan. The Vanishing Hitchhiker: Urban Legends and their Meanings. Picador: London, 1983.
Carr-Gomm, Philip and Heygate, Richard. The Book of English Magic. Murray: London, 2009.
Cavendish, Richard. A History of Magic. 1987: Penguin: London, 1997.
Cavendish, Richard. The Black Arts. Pan: London, 1969.
Cavendish, Richard. The Tarot. Chancellor: London, 1986.
Clarke, Lindsay. The Chemical Wedding. Cape: London, 1989.
Crossley-Holland, Kevin, Trans. The Exeter Riddle Book. Folio Society: London, 1978.
Crowley, John. Little, Big. Millennium: London, 2000.
Day, Trevor. Magic Tricks. Collins: London, 1996.
Davies, Owen. Magic, A very short Introduction. OUP.
Dodds, ER. The Greeks and the Irrational. University of California Press: Los Angeles, 1951.
Drury, Nevill. The Watkins Dictionary of Magic. Watkins: London, 2005.
The Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Eliade, Mircea. Myths, Dreams and Mysteries. Harvill: London, 1960.
Euripides. The Bacchae and other plays. Trans. Philip Vellacott. Penguin: Harmondsworth, 1972.
Fortune, Dion. Applied Magic. Aquarian Press: Wellingborough, 1987.
Gardner, Richard. The Tarot Speaks. Universal Tandem: London, 1974.
Hyde, Lewis. Trickster Makes This World. Canongate: Edinburgh, 2008.
Kaplan, Stuart R. The Classical Tarot. Aquarian: Wellingborough, 1984.
Levi, Eliphas. Magic. 1860. Dover: New York, 2006.
Metzner, Ralph. Opening to Inner Light. Century: London, 1987.
Nichols, Sallie. Jung and the Tarot. Weiser: Boston, 1984.
Ritsema, Rudolf and Karcher, Stephen. I Ching. Element: Shaftesbury, 1994.
Ritsema, Rudolf and Sabbadini, Shantena Augusto, Trans. The Original I Ching Oracle. Watkins: London, 2005.
Roob, Alexander. Alchemy and Mysticism. Taschen: Köln, 2006.
Thomas, Keith. Religion and the Decline of Magic. Penguin: London, 1978.
Walker, Barbara G. The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. Harper Collins: New York, 1983.
Weston, Jessie L. From Ritual to Romance. Doubleday: New York, 1957.
Wilhelm, Richard, Trans. The I Ching Book of Changes. Routlage and Kegan Paul: London, 1968.
Wilson, Colin: The Occult. Mayflower: St. Albans, 1972.
Yeats, WB. A Vision. 1937.
Yeats, WB. Essays and Introductions. 1961.