Magic Without Mirrors: The Making of a Magician, by David Conway
Logios, 9781463761724,336 pp., 2011
For a large number of individuals of a certain age, Magic: An Occult Primer was the introduction to the world of magick. At the time there wasn’t a whole lot of information about the author available. In the intervening years The Magic of Herbs and Secret Wisdom: The Occult Universe Explored were also produced by the same author, but without (to my knowledge) as much acceptance and fanfare.
This book is essentially Conway’s autobiography. It is filled with amusing anecdotes and enlightening background information. It also contains snippets of magickal information as well, though that is not its primary purpose.
His reminiscences include family stories and remembrances from family friends about some of the individuals who were the “movers and shakers” of the occult movement in the early years of the 20th century, as well as lesser known (or even unknown) people who helped him to learn about magick.
If you want tons of information about the arts magickal, this is not the book for you. If, however, you want to know about the personal life of one of the more influential writers in the magickal field in the late middle part of the past century, this is a good book for you.
There are incidents which may seem too unbelievable to be real. And, quite honestly, I have trouble believing them. My belief, however, is conditioned by my own life experiences, and since I don’t share his life experiences I am not in a position to pass judgment on them. The book is entertaining and informative, in a chatty, over-the-back-fence kind of way. The lives and actions of some of the big names in the occult movement are slightly fleshed out although, once again, that isn’t the primary focus of this book.
Folks who have been reading my reviews for a few years know that one of my on-going regrets is that there are very few biographies and autobiographies available concerning the people who helped to bring the occult movement in general (and magick and witchcraft in particular) into general tolerance. This is one small brick in a memorial wall, if you will, which needs to be constructed before more of the members of that generation pass over to the other side of the veil. I am pleased to see this book (as well as a number of others, coming at this time.
Even if magick is not your primary interest, and even if you think you know everything you need to know about the relationship between the “real world” and the “magickal world” I think you will find this book interesting.