Resources of Interest for Early Modern Magic in England & New England (circa the 1500s to 1800)


Primary Sources

  1. The Key of Solomon. I’ve heard a lot of good things from several ceremonial magicians, including @thedesertgod , that the edition to go for is Skinner’s. He’s compiled, edited, and added scholastic commentary to The Veritable Key of Solomon, as well as The Magician’s Tables. Joseph Peterson, also recommended, has worked on The Lesser Key of Solomon and the Clavicula Solomonis (or Key of Solomon). I probably would read it in its original Latin, if you have the means. 
  2. Agrippa, Cornelius (false attribution). The Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy. 1655. Stephen Skinner also worked on an edition of this book. Unlike the actual Agrippa’s original three books, this volume does not hold much in the way of theory but offers plenty of practical instruction.
  3. Casaubon, M. A True and Faithful Relation of what passed for many years between Dr. John Dee…and Some Spirits. 1659. As a record of the seances held by Dr. Dee and Kelley, it recounts the techniques used to conjure spirits. 
  4. Chamberlain, Richard. Lithobolia. 1682. One family’s account of witchcraft perpetuated by the fetch of a neighbor.
  5. Culpepper, Nicholas. Complete Herbal. 1653. It provides a comprehensive description of the herbs, along with their medicinal uses and instructions on preparing them to treat illnesses. 
  6. Culpepper, Nicholas. The English Physician. 1652. The first medical guide published in the American colonies (apparently), it is intended for the average person. 
  7. Defoe, Daniel (assumed). A Compleat System of Magick; or, The History of the Black-Art. 1727. As a skeptic, like Reginald Scot, this anonymous author (who we’re pretty sure is Defoe) provides much information on the work of witches, conjurors, and cunning-folk. 
  8. Hale, John. A Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft. 1702. After the Salem witch trials, he challenges the legal proceedings and religious principals of witch hunts in general. 
  9. Magnus, Albertus (false attribution). The Book of Secrets. “Provides a portrayal of the magical culture that predominated in the 16th century. This work includes secrets which are divided into five distinct parts: Of the Virtues of Herbs, Of the Virtues of Stones, Of the Virtues of Beasts, Of the Planets, and The Marvels of the World.”
  10. Mather, Cotton. Memorable Providences. 1698. Having fanned the flames of the Salem hysteria, this book discusses several witchcraft cases in New England before the Trials arose.
  11. Mather, Increase. Cases of Conscience. 1693. Intended to vindicate the Mathers’ involvement in Salem, it was intended to prove that witches and devils could assume the shape of an innocent person. 
  12. Scot, Reginald. The Discoverie of Witchcraft. 1584. By attempting to debunk witchcraft as a hoax, it managed to record a good cross-section of their formulae. 
  13. Turner, Richard. Botanologia The Brittish Physician: or The Nature and Vertue of English Plants. 1664. Another guide to British herbs and medicine, by an astrologer, occultist, and botanist.

Modern Accounts

  1. Davies, Owen. Cunning-Folk: Popular Magic in English History. Hambledon and London, 2003. 
  2. Demos, John. Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England. Oxford University Press, 2004. 
  3. Godbeer, Richard. The Devil’s Dominion: Magic and Religion in Early New England. Cambridge University Press, 1989. 
  4. Merrifield, Ralph. The Archaeology of Ritual and Magic. Batsford, 1987.
  5. Semmens, Jason. The Witch of the West: or, the Strange and Wonderful History of Thomasine Blight. Semmens, 2004. 
  6. Thomas, Keith. Religion and the Decline of Magic. Peregrine, 1978.
  7. Weisman, Richard. Witchcraft, Magic, and Religion in 17th-century Massachusetts. University of Massachusetts Press, 1984. 
  8. Wilby, Emma. Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic. Sussex Academic Press, 2005.

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