Fictional Practice: Magic, Narration, and the Power of Imagination


Volume Editors: and
To what extent were practitioners of magic inspired by fictional accounts of their art? In how far did the daunting narratives surrounding legendary magicians such as Theophilus of Adana, Cyprianus of Antioch, Johann Georg Faust or Agrippa of Nettesheim rely on real-world events or practices? Fourteen original case studies present material from late antiquity to the twenty-first century and explore these questions in a systematic manner. By coining the notion of ‘fictional practice’, the editors discuss the emergence of novel, imaginative types of magic from the nineteenth century onwards when fiction and practice came to be more and more intertwined or even fully amalgamated. This is the first comparative study that systematically relates fiction and practice in the history of magic.

Prices from (excl. shipping):

Add to Cart
Bernd-Christian Otto is Senior Research Fellow at the International Consortium for Research in the Humanities at the University of Erlangen-Nuremburg. His research focuses on the history of magic, where he combines different methodologies such as conceptual history, discourse analysis, social theory, and ritual studies.
Dirk Johannsen is Professor of Cultural History at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS), University of Oslo. His research focuses on narrative cultures, literature and popular religion in the nineteenth century, cognitive approaches, and trolls.

Contributors are Carole M. Cusack, Owen Davies, Ethan Doyle White, Claire Fanger, Kyle Fraser, Marco Frenschkowski, Christian Giudice, Aðalheiður Guðmundsdóttir, Dirk Johannsen, Ane Ohrvik, Bernd-Christian Otto, Hugh Urban, Justin Woodman, Kateryna Zorya.
List of Figures
Notes on Contributors

  Bernd-Christian Otto and Dirk Johannsen

1 Magic as Pollution: Fictional Blasphemies and Ritual Realities in the Roman Period (1st cen. BCE–4th cen. C)
  Kyle Fraser

2 The Medieval Anti-Faust: Stories, Rituals, and Self-Representations in the Flowers of Heavenly Teaching
  Claire Fanger

3 Enchantment and Anger in Medieval Icelandic Literature and Later Folklore
  Aðalheiður Guðmundsdóttir

4 Narratives of the Witch, the Magician, and the Devil in Early Modern Grimoires
  Owen Davies

5 When Ritual Texts Become Legendary Practice and Fiction in Nordic Folklore
  Ane Ohrvik

6 Magic and Literary Imagination in H. P. Blavatsky’s Theosophy
  Marco Frenschkowski

7 The Emergence of Fictional Practice in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn: W.B. Yeats’ Talismanic Poetry

  Dirk Johannsen

8 “My Life in a Love Cult”: Tantra, Orientalism, and Sex Magic in Early Twentieth-Century Fiction
  Hugh B. Urban

9 Drawing Down the Moon: From Classical Greece to Modern Wicca?
  Ethan Doyle White

10 Drinking from Hecate’s Fountain: Kenneth Grant’s Typhonian Trilogies and the Fusion Between Literature and Practiced Magic
  Christian Giudice

11 If One Knows Where to Look, Fiction is Magic: Reading Fictional Texts as Manuals of Magic in Post-Soviet Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus
  Kateryna Zorya

12 “Cthulhu Gnosis” Monstrosity, Selfhood, and Secular Re-Enchantment in Lovecraftian Occultural Practice
  Justin Woodman

13 A Magickal School in the Twenty-First Century: The Grey School of Wizardry and Its Prehistory
  Carole M. Cusack

14 Fictional Practice from Antiquity to Today
  Bernd-Christian Otto


Students and researchers in the study of esotericism, religious studies, anthropology, literary, cultural, and historical studies as well as those interested in novel approaches to the history of magic.
  • Collapse
  • Expand