MAGIC IN ANCIENT EGYPT
By Dr Geraldine Pinch, published by the British Museum Press at £12.99. 190pp. ISBN: 0-7141-0971-1
This really is an excellent book! Dr Pinch, a lecturer in Egyptology at Cambridge University, presents a study of Egyptian magic which manages to be both authoritative and scholarly on the one hand while remaining easily approachable for the non-specialist on the other. Egyptian magic is one of those unfortunate areas in which New Age and cranky occultists have tried (and all too often managed) to foist all sorts of personal fantasies on the would-be magician or pagan as Truth. This account, profusely illustrated with black and white photographs of items in the British Museum's Egyptian collection, starts by discussing the very idea of magic and how it was perceived and portrayed in Egypt, following on with an examination of the relationships between the priesthood and magicians and between magic and medicine before going on to consider in depth the sources of evidence for written and more popular magic, magical techniques, the uses of figurines and amulets and magical practices connected with fertility and death. Dr Pinch rounds her book off with a look both at the survival of traditional Egyptian magic in early Christian Egypt and at its legacy to modern occultism.
Very highly recommended indeed for anyone with even a passing interest in this field and an essential grounding exercise for anyone who has overdosed on New Age-y pyramid fantasies!