Francis Young discusses the commercial side of magic in Tudor and Stuart England here for the History Vault. He also notes that the use of magical spells and other swag might get you into legal trouble.
For more about grimoires, check out Owen Davies, A History of Magic Books (Oxford, 2010).
The Calgary Herald highlights some Canadian devotees of law and magic here. Claudia Bustos, magician Ryan Pilling, and Jay Ingram, author of The Science of Why and former host of The Daily Planet Show are among those investigating witchcraft and the Canadian Criminal Code, Piltdown Man, and other mysterious topics on January 17th. Good to know there are kindred "spirits" north of the border.
The Guardian visits Enchantments, New York's long-establsihed witchcraft store, and delves into the source of its success. Owner Stacy Rapp says part of the shop's attraction is due to the balance between "male and female energies." I might not be a customer for other items Enchantments offers but I am a big beliveer in balance between men and women. We''re all in this adventure together. If we can make it more of an enchantment, I'm for that.
This book is one I've thought (vaguely) about writing, but soon realized I had the interest but not the expertise. Here it is, though, from Colin J. Williamson, visiting assistant professor of film and media studies at Franklin and Marshall College.
What does it mean to describe cinematic effects as “movie magic,” to compare filmmakers to magicians, or to say that the cinema is all a “trick”? The heyday of stage illusionism was over a century ago, so why do such performances still serve as a key reference point for understanding filmmaking, especially now that so much of the cinema rests on the use of computers? To answer these questions, Colin Williamson situates film within a long tradition of magical practices that combine art and science, involve deception and discovery, and evoke two forms of wonder—both awe at the illusion displayed and curiosity about how it was performed. He thus considers how, even as they mystify audiences, cinematic illusions also inspire them to learn more about the technologies and techniques behind moving images. Tracing the overlaps between the worlds of magic and filmmaking, Hidden in Plain Sight examines how professional illusionists and their tricks have been represented onscreen, while also considering stage magicians who have stepped behind the camera, from Georges Méliès to Ricky Jay. Williamson offers an insightful, wide-ranging investigation of how the cinema has functioned as a “device of wonder” for more than a century, while also exploring how several key filmmakers, from Orson Welles to Christopher Nolan and Martin Scorsese, employ the rhetoric of magic. Examining pre-cinematic visual culture, animation, nonfiction film, and the digital trickery of today’s CGI spectacles, Hidden in Plain Sight provides an eye-opening look at the powerful ways that magic has shaped our modes of perception and our experiences of the cinema.
Available in hardback ($90), paperback ($28.95), Web PDF ($28.95), epub ($28.95).
Between Magic and Rationality: On the Limits of Reason in the Modern World (Vibeke Steffen, Steffen Joehncke, and Kirsten Marie Raahauge, eds.; Museum Tusculanum Press, 2015) (Critical Anthropology).
Here is a description of the contents from the publisher's website.
In Between Magic and Rationality, Vibeke Steffen, Steffen Jöhncke, and Kirsten Marie Raahauge bring together a diverse range of ethnographies that examine and explore the forms of reflection, action, and interaction that govern the ways different contemporary societies create and challenge the limits of reason. The essays here visit an impressive array of settings, including international scientific laboratories, British spiritualist meetings, Chinese villages, Danish rehabilitation centers, and Uzbeki homes, where we encounter a diverse assortment of people whose beliefs and concerns exhibit an unusual but central contemporary dichotomy: scientific reason vis-à-vis spiritual/paranormal belief. Exploring the paradoxical way these modes of thought push against reason’s boundaries, they offer a deep look at the complex ways they coexist, contest each other, and are ultimately intertwined.
Rostam J. Neuwirth, University of Macau, Faculty of Law, E32, has published Law and Magic: A(nother) Paradox? at 37 Thomas Jefferson Law Review 139 (2014). Here is the abstract.
In the past, paradoxes and similar rhetorical figures that are summarized by the term “essentially oxymoronic concepts”, have been frequently applied to describe mystical experiences or, more generally, “change” that represents the uncertain or the unknown. Thus, their usage has primarily been a privilege of the arts, literature or the occult sciences. Today, however, essentially oxymoronic concepts are increasingly permeating scientific, legal and other public discourses as much as advertisements or daily conversations. Concepts like “globalization paradox”, “co-opetition”, and “piracy paradox”, products labeled “ice tea” and “Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs)”, and films entitled “True Lies”, are just a few examples that testify to this wider trend. Their usage appears especially prevalent in attempts to scientifically describe and understand the often complex relations between two or more different phenomena or fields. In this regard, the relation between law and magic may be no exception, as it can also be framed by, or gives rise to, several paradoxes. For instance, in early history, and later, in the context of colonialism, laws have often outlawed magic as “witchcraft” or “charlatanry”, based on the belief that their character is irrational, as opposed to the rational character of the law. Paradoxically though, contemporary laws and legal practice still maintain a high degree of rites, rituals and rhetoric, similar to those that have been applied in magic. Similarly, as Jerome Frank has remarked, despite the law’s focus on certainty, it striking to see how often “magical phrases” are used in its language. The apparent contradictions in the nature and language of the law are therefore taken as an opportunity to cast some light on various issues that link law and magic in order to gain some insights about the nature, origin, and role of law generally.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. The article forms part of the conference papers from the Law and Magic symposium held at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, June 2014.