Black Magic Part Two: The Research Rant
Researching magic and the occult has never been easier than in the past years. There are a plethora of books and other sources that the internet has made available. However, a researcher must be aware that the quality of what they are reading must be questioned.
Much of the problem lies with a bias on the part many occult writers who interpret their subject matter poorly. A great example would be a book on traditional Mexican sorcery that interprets Aztec tradition within the frame work of modern neopaganism. Another example is where interpretations of traditional magics neglect the darker side of those traditions. If cunning folk exist, then there has to be something to fight. But what? No clue.
The reason for this exclusion is simple. Many writers are practitioners, and they wish to write their subject in the best light. Exploring the negative applications of magic and occult knowledge is, therefore, left alone. A magic mail order business that I used to receive catalogs from said it best in regards to the Lesser Key of Solomon: buy it for historical value just don’t try it at home.
Another problem that I’ve encountered is finding good histories on the subjects. I’ve found some good histories on English magic and American magic. But I’ve been sorely disappointed with finding anything on Mexican magic and Chinese magic.
While ceremonial magic and goetia are going to be the centerpiece of my story, the setting does call for some knowledge of traditional Mexican magic. And, for that matter, I do want to explore magical traditions outside of standard Euro centric traditions. I’m not writing Harry Potter (even though I’ve read a book that makes the case that England is the magical nation par excellence).
If only I can find gems in the piles of detritus.
It almost makes me want to make it up. The reason why I don’t is the subject of my next post.