I almost ignored the press release for “The Witches Almanac: Sorcerers, Witches and Magic from Ancient Rome to the Digital Age” by Charles Christian. I mean, these days the new age/witchy marketplace is overloaded with almanacs. However, this doesn’t really feel like an almanac. More like a self-contained reference book.
Dictionary.com defines an almanac as,
“an annual publication containing a calendar for the coming year, the times of such events and phenomena as anniversaries, sunrises and sunsets, phases of the moon, tides, etc., and other statistical information and related topics.
a publication containing astronomical or meteorological information, usually including future positions of celestial objects, star magnitudes, and culmination dates of constellations.
an annual reference book of useful and interesting facts relating to countries of the world, sports, entertainment, etc.”
And the thing is, “The Witches Almanac” isn’t really any of those things, other than being filled with interesting facts. So, what is “The Witches Almanac?” Essentially, Christian has put together “a biographical dictionary of the best-known practitioners and exponents of magic from the earliest times through until the present day.” The author explains, “This is primarily a book about people, but instead of the traditional approach of a biographical dictionary with all entries in strictly alphabetical order, I’ve opted to split the text into separate chapters, each dealing with a particular theme or chronological era containing a brief explanatory narrative discussing the historical context and issues of that theme/era followed by the relevant biographical entries.”
The historical context Christian provides makes “The Witches Almanac” a pretty solid text on the history of magic. It doesn’t compete with “Magic: A History: From Alchemy to Witchcraft, from the Ice Age to the Present” by Chris Gosden, but for all the biographical information provided, there is an awful lot of history contained within. And as far as operating as a “biographical dictionary” of magicians, “The Witches Almanac” does a fantastic job. I was hard pressed to think of any practitioners that may have been missed. Also, rest assured, “The Witches Almanac” has an excellent index, just in case you want to find a specific person.
If you’re looking for a rough history of magic that has the main focus on the practitioners that shaped it, “The Witches Almanac” by Charles Christian is not to be missed!
You can learn more here.
Get your own copy here. (This is an affiliate link to my Bookshop, which supports independent bookstores throughout the United States. If you use this link to purchase the book, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.)
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