There are three main branches of occult knowledge and practice; Astrology, which aims to guide human fortune by means of foreknowledge; Alchemy, which tries to secure power through the agency of the philosopher’s stone; and Ritual Magic, which seeks to control the spirit world. Elizabeth Butler’s classic study of the traditions and practices of ritual magic uses a wide range of texts and sources – from the pre-Christian rites of the Akkadians and Chaldeans to the Solomonic Clavicles of medieval Europe – to create a lively, detailed and absorbing history of human attempts to achieve mastery over the spirit world. Throughout, there is extensive quotation from the documents themselves, providing the reader with an authentic sense of the richness and power of these texts.
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