My first book, Arguing with Angels: Enochian Magic and Modern Occulture, is due to be released by SUNY Press next month (May 2012). The publisher has now released the first chapter of the book in electronic form on their website, so that you can read it there for free. This chapter is entitled “The Magus and the Seer”, and deals with John Dee’s angel conversations, the cultural and intellectual context, the role of the skryer, Edward Kelley, and some interpretations and explanations of what happened. When I wrote this chapter, already several years ago, it was intended as a “state of research” on Dee’s angelic diaries, and serve as an important reference for the rest of the book.
The book itself is not primarily about Dee and Kelley (or his other skryers), but is concerned rather with the reception history of the angel conversations in Western ritual magic. In particular, it makes a contribution to the ongoing discussion about the relation between ritual magic and modernity, about the struggle for legitimacy, about reinterpretations of magic in the face of a “disenchanted” world, and so on. It is also the first academic work to give full attention to what has come to be “Enochian” angel magic as a proper subset of occultist ritual magic, putting it properly on the map of academic scholarship.
As the publisher writes:
Examining this magical system from its Renaissance origins to present day occultism, Egil Asprem shows how the reception of Dee’s magic is replete with struggles to construct and negotiate authoritative interpretational frameworks for doing magic. Arguing with Angels offers a novel, nuanced approach to questions about how ritual magic has survived the advent of modernity and demonstrates the ways in which modern culture has recreated magical discourse.
In his blurb for the book, Henrik Bogdan at the University of Gothenburg, author of Western Esotericism and Rituals of Initiation, writes that “Arguing with Angels is a major contribution to the study of Western esotericism in general, and to the study of Enochiana in particular.” If this convinces you, the book is already available for pre-order, from the publisher itself, and from sites such as Amazon and Book Depository.
Shortly, I will create a page in the side-bar here at Heterodoxology, in which I will keep updated information about the book, and post links and notices about reviews as they become available. So stay tuned!
This blog post by Egil Asprem was first published on Heterodoxology. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.