Non-occult books that inform magical practice

My magical practice has definitely been influenced by books other than specifically occult ones.

I am a big fan of science fiction, especially Ursula Le Guin. I have also learned from theory of science fiction (Speculations on speculation), for example in thinking about the nature of reality and how to bring about change. I also enjoy “literary” novels (science fiction at its best is literature, but that’s a separate argument).

I read about wildlife, landscape, ecology. For example, books by Robert G McFarlane, Tom Cox, and Tim Robinson are awesome. A classic is Food for free by Richard Mabey. And The Making of the English Landscape by WG Hoskins will make you look afresh at landscape.

Archaeology is another fruitful topic. Francis Prior has written some great books. I especially enjoyed Randall McGuire, Michael Shanks, The craft of archaeology [abstract] [download PDF].

History is fascinating. Ronald Hutton (of course), Simon Schama (Landscape & Memory is amazing), David Olusoga, Mary Beard, Alex Owen, Diarmaid McCulloch. Pelican histories (England, Europe, India…). History of LGBTQ2SIA & BIPOC people. Trade union history.

My favourite social theories are social constructionism and Michel Foucault. I liked Valerie Walkerdine, Pierre Bourdieu (cultural capital theory), RD Laing, Lev Vygotsky. Michel Foucault and the social constructionists influenced my thinking about how deities arise (along with Terry Pratchett).

Social psychology (especially studies on group dynamics) is very useful. One of my favourite social psychology books was George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s Metaphors we live by.

Books on theatre. I haven’t read that many but I liked Peter Brook’s The Empty Space (Holy, Deadly, Rough, and Immediate). It definitely influenced my ideas on ritual.

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6 thoughts on “Non-occult books that inform magical practice

  1. I think my main favorites right now- most of which I /really/ think should be required reading by every Pagan, Witch, or Occultist at this point- are (1.) Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past; (2.) Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology; (3.) Archaeological Fantasies: How Pseudoarchaeology Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public; (4.) Invented Knowledge: False History, Fake Science, and Pseudoreligions; (5.) Convenient Myths: The ‘Axial Age’, Dark Green Religion, and the World That Never Was; (6.) Constant Battles: Why We Fight; The Myth of the Peaceful Noble Savage; (7.) The Social Instinct: How Cooperation Shaped the World; (8.) People, Plants, and Genes: The Story of Crops & Humanity; (9.) Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States; (10.) The Diversity of Hunter Gatherer Pasts; (11.) Gentlemen and Amazons: The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory; (12.) The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Will Not Give Women A Future; and (13.) Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens, and the Origins of Environmentalism.

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  2. Some themes or topics that I find illuminate my practice (in addition to those you’ve mentioned); linguistics, human evolution; plate tectonics, quantum mechanics and particle physics, mythology and myth studies, ethnology and ethnography, folk music and its history, computer and all that, poetry…

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