A Natural History of Magick

A Natural History of Magick
Poppy David and Jessica Roux
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

To provide an element of authenticity, a letter at the beginning of this book introduces it as a ‘precious scrapbook’ from 1925 by one Conrad Gessner, grandfather of Alfie to whom his opening letter is addressed.

There follows a first person narrative from the professor, purporting to be his research into magick practices starting with that in Ancient Egypt and going right through to modern magic in the 19th and 20th centuries. There’s a look at magick from the African continent, used still to this day for such purposes as healing the sick and helping crops to grow. However, magick knows no boundaries and respects no borders, so we’re told on the ley lines pages whereon there’s a world map showing how they all connect. Also referred to briefly on the same spread is Machu Picchu.

After the brief history come spreads devoted to overviews of single magickal forms including divination, cartomancy, numerology, alchemy and the making of potions. (Should you wish to try it, there’s even a recipe for a potion from one Guilla Tofanus who fled to France, said to conjure up fairies and sprites.)

Then you might need a wand, in which case the kind of wood from which it’s fashioned makes all the difference: for example if you happen to be a healing wizard, then a wand from a restorative tree is what’s required but so I read, it’s not entirely up to you for ‘in wand lore, it is magic that pulls a wand and its bearer together.’

It’s useful to have an amulet or talisman, an object containing magical power, to keep close at hand all the time, they’re popular even today; some examples are shown here …

Beautifully illustrated by Jessica Roux in pencil and watercolour, with a muted colour palette, this book is assuredly a fascinating read but I’m not sure who the target audience is. I suspect you might find it in the Hogwart’s lending library so fans of the Harry Potter stories may well go for it.

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