When it comes magic in late antiquity, the conventional wisdom was that if you were interested in philosophy and theurgy, you read The Chaldean Oracles; but if you wanted the practical stuff, you went with the Papyri Graecae Magicae. However the PGM is pretty much a recipe book, and a largely impenetrable one at that. For a cogent system of practice, you were pretty much left to your own devices.
Dr. Stephen Skinner comes to the rescue with Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic, the first of a planned two-volume set to tackle this subject with a practical eye. This first volume is an expansion of Skinner’s doctoral dissertation in classics from the University of Newcastle, so rest assured that the scholarship here is impeccable. It provides the necessary background information on Graeco-Egyptian magic: An overview of the relevant texts and their historical context vis a vis Gnostic and Hekhalot literature. A discussion of the theoretical and practical components and paraphernalia. And a valuable classification of the main types of operations presented in the PGM.
We’re told that the full-blown practical aspects will be laid out in the second volume, but it will make no sense without the information herein. It’s heady stuff, to be sure. The text is peppered with terminology presented in the original Greek, Hebrew and Coptic, and is packed with tables and illustrations. In other words, it has all the academic stuff that I just love. I can’t wait to read the second volume!
* Calendrical Considerations
* Composite Rites
* Daimonic Possession and Exorcism
* Ensouling Magical Statues
* Evocationary Bowl Skrying
* Evocationary Lamp Skrying
* Face-to-Face Encounters with a god
* Foreknowledge and Memory rites
* Homeric magic and divination
* Hymns, pagan
* Incenses, Herbs and Plants used in magic
* Invocation of the gods and the god’s arrival
* Magical Rings and Gemstones
* Mysteries and Initiation Rites
* Paredros or Assistant Daimon, securing a
* Procedures for Visions and Dream Revelation
In keeping with Golden Hoard’s other releases, the cloth edition is a sturdy hardcover with illustrated dustwrapper, custom endpapers, rubricated title page, and red ribbon marker. A leather edition, limited to 100 copies, is forthcoming. For details, including ordering information, see the Golden Hoard Press.