In Stealing Fire from Heaven: The Rise of Modern Western Magic, author Nevill Drury attempts to chronicle and contextualize contemporary magical practices and practitioners. For the most part he succeeds, and offers the, um, uninitiated an introduction to current magical thought. He covers ground from the (relatively) well-known to the fairly obscure, stopping along the way to probe a little deeper into some of the philosophies and personalities involved. It is only as his history approaches the current day that his choice of subjects begins to appear arbitrary and his arguments unsupported, almost as if he wrote his conclusions prior to seeking any evidence to support them.
Drury’s focus is on the “Western esoteric tradition in the twentieth century,” but of necessity begins with a crash course in the overall history of western magic. This includes primers on kabbalah, alchemy, and tarot, as well as introductions to some of the key players, such as Eliphas Lévi and MacGregor Mathers. This is perhaps the strongest portion of the book, with balanced discussions of magical theory and its practitioners, resulting in a solid introduction to Western magic.… Read the rest