Anthropology's long and complex relationship to magic has been strongly influenced by western science and notions of rationality. This book takes a refreshing new look at modern magic as practised by contemporary Pagans in Britain. It focuses on what Pagans see as the essence of magic - a communication with an otherworldly reality. Examining issues of identity, gender and morality, the author argues that the otherworld forms a central defining characteristic of magical practice. Integrating an experiential ethnographic approach with an analysis of magic, this book asks penetrating questions about the nature of otherworldly knowledge and argues that our scientific frameworks need re-envisioning. It is unique in providing an insider's view of how magic is practised in contemporary western culture.
'Susan Greenwood has clearly made excellent work of her PhD research in writing this book. But more than that her research is insightfully accurate in its reflection of the Pagan community, and the central concerns of Paganism. 'This is an academic book that certainly does add something to the Pagan community, and is well worth reading.' Pagan Dawn 'All in all, a valuable but reasonably priced book which is highly recommended.' Reviewed by Daniel Cohen in Wood and Water 'It does provide an illuminating insight into popular urban neo-paganism at the end of the 20th century.' The Cauldron 'Greenwood weaves her own fascination and involvement with magic, to communicate the essence of magic, as she experienced it herself, with the rigours of scientific enquiry. This is the book's strength, as the author includes interesting emic details of the path of the seeker of High Magic practices, as well as scientific paradigms that employ an etic perspective. Yet the two are magically interwoven, the one not losing sight or consideration of the other.' Journal of Contemporary Religion 'A valuable contribution to the studies of religion, magic and ritual, offering insights into human consciousness and modes of engagement within the contemporary world.' The Australian Journal of Anthropology 'Western occultist communities do not often receive this kind of scrutiny, and we are all in Greenwood's debt for her unblinking analysis of them.' Contemporary Psychology