Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Book Review: A History of Magic, Witchcraft, and the Occult by DK

book review, witchcraft, pagan, DK Publishing, history of witchcraft, witchy

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. I was provided a copy of this book for an honest review.

I don't know about you, but I spent a lot of my childhood flipping through DK Publishing's books, especially their encyclopedias. In fact, one of my favorite books growing up was their herbal remedies book, which I tracked down as an adult. I remember spending every single school trip to the middle school library flipping through the book. Even as a pre-teen, I was called to be a healer. Needless to say, when I saw that they were publishing a book on the history of magic, witchcraft, and the occult, I knew I needed to give the book a read, and I'm glad I did.

A History of Magic, Witchcraft, and the Occult is a short, beautifully illustrated history of magical practices around the world since the beginning of man. They cover everything in an unbiased way, completely free of judgment, which I greatly appreciated. Furthermore, this is a concise history book written by historians, not witches. In fact, the authors and consultants are all historians who have specifically studied historical occult practices, making them experts in the field. From Professor Suzannah Lipscomb, who wrote the forward, to Dr. Sophie Page who was consulted throughout the book, each person involved in the writing of A History of Magic, Witchcraft, and the Occult has extensively studied magical history from a historian's point of view. In fact, Dr. Sophie Page is well known in the history community for her extraordinary books on magic and witchcraft, particularly European medieval magic and astrology. Needless to say, this book is a refreshing historical take written by experts. I cannot say the same for history lessons in modern books on witchcraft, which are written by witches and often biased toward their personal beliefs.

shamanism, trance, history of witchcraft
Image from DK Publishing

Like all DK books, this one is beautifully illustrated, with pictures of artwork, crystals, herbs, amulets, and other magical objects from around the world. Each is captioned and explained, helping the reader decipher and interpret the meanings of what is being presented. Its an extremely easy read. Most people could probably flip through the book in a day or two, maybe even in a couple of hours if you really tried. While short, this book is an excellent introduction to magical practices around the world, both historically and in modern times. It is not, however, complete. Because of the breadth of knowledge they are discussing, most sections are very brief in their explanation. This does not, however, detract from the book. In fact, I found myself taking extensive notes on subjects I wished to learn more about. I have a list of 10-15 items I want to spend more time researching, specifically about Nordic traditions. You see, both my mother and father have Swedish and Norwegian roots, and I've felt a deep desire to trace these roots back to magical practices. This book provided me with a ton of great starting points that I am excited to pursue. If you too are wondering where your magical studies should go, I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of this book. It's a great foundation for adults and children alike to figure out which magical practices speak to them as well as a great way to learn the history of modern practices. This gives context and meaning to our work that is otherwise lacking.

amulets, witchcraft, history of witchcraft, talisman
Image from DK Publishing

I did have one issue with the book: the use of the word g*psy. I know this was likely unintentional and much of the world does not see this word as a slur, but I was disappointed nonetheless considering the context the word was used in. Despite this, I still absolutely loved the book, and highly recommend it to new and seasoned witches alike. You may be surprised by what you learn throughout the pages. A History of Magic, Witchcraft, and the Occult is set to be released on August 17th, 2020, but you can preorder a copy of the book now!

If you liked this post and would like to support future content, please consider leaving a small tip in the jar. 


  1. This look very interesting and intriguing perhaps someday with more practice for myself I could read such a book. Thank you for sharing it! ~Jessica~

    1. I think you could tackle it now. It was pretty easy to get through and super short in comparison to some other books on the topic. Its bound to give you some awesome ideas too about things you may want to learn in the future.

  2. Same here, big time! DK books - especially their incredible Eye Witness series (which I lapped up like water in a desert as a youngster) were an integral element of my early reading years as well. I still very much enjoy them and have no doubt that I'd be properly glued to this engaging photo filled read as well.

    Thank you very much for the terrific review, sweet Willow (I am with you 100% regarding misappropriation/misuse of the word gypsy).

    Autumn Zenith 🧡 Witchcrafted Life

    1. You would think in this day and age that books wouldn't still be making that slip up, but I guess not! This DK book is otherwise pretty awesome.


This witch loves to hear from her readers, so please share your thoughts below!