WoT Lenses: History of Magic 101

Are you a fan of the Wheel of Time series? Do you yearn for more than the now-completed series of novels you have already read a dozen times? Do you wonder if you could find that same sense of adventure and wonder in real life, drawing the world of the Wheel of Time story into your own world? Well, if so, this post series is here to help.

A few years ago I, like so many others, joined a website version of Hogwarts, and was sorted quite appropriately into Ravenclaw. That particular site was fun because it had actual courses submitted by more experienced members of the site, so one could actually do mini-courses in subjects like History of Magic, Potions, and Magical Creatures. Well, in reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books, I’ve often wished there was a White Tower where I could do the same. I was already in college, thus immersed in the real Ivory Tower of academia, but that is not quite the same.  Whatever makes these sorts of play-classes fun (online Hogwarts, etc), they are, and for adults and younger people alike. This week I’ve gathered together some resources on the history of science and magic, a subject that is actually taught in various forms at modern universities.

Here, for example, is a course from UCLA history department, Science, Magic and Religion

“Professor Courtenay Raia lectures on science and religion as historical phenomena that have evolved over time. Examines the earlier mind-set before 1700 when into science fitted elements that came eventually to be seen as magical. The course also question how Western cosmologies became “disenchanted.” Magical tradition transformed into modern mysticisms is also examined as well as the political implications of these movements. Includes discussion concerning science in totalitarian settings as well as “big science” during the Cold War.”

There are many other online college lectures that touch on the history of science, and many university courses now have podcasts. You may not get a degree from studying this way, but if your goal is just to learn new things, these free online course lectures are fantastic. (They are also a great way to get back into the college mindset if you are thinking of going back to school after a few years as an adult in ‘the real world’.)
 

If you prefer books, or want more, here are a couple great books I can recommend on the history of science, books that would be in the White Tower’s library for sure if we had one.

Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything, by Philip Ball
The Discovery of Time, by Stephen Toulmin and June Goodfield

There are many other excellent books available on the history of science, which in its infancy and n its alchemical origins is indistinguishable from magic. In fact, depending on how one defines magic, we may never have stopped practicing magic, we just call it by different names now that we’ve subdivided the forces of the universe into ‘electricity’, ‘gravity’, etc.

There are also some cool, somewhat readable ancient texts that most Brown Aes Sedai of our world would hope to own copies of-
Natural Magick, by Giambattista Della Porta
On the Sense of Things and On Natural Magic, by Tommaso Campanella
City of the Sun, by Tommaso Campanella
The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreutz, by Johann Valentin Andreae
Monas Hieroglyphica, by John Dee
Reipublicae Christianopolitanae Descriptio, by Johann Valentin Andreae
Mathematical Magick, by John Wilkins
The Discovery of a World in the Moone, by John Wilkins
Utriusque Cosmi Historia, by Robert Fludd

There are many other tomes that would be necessary to have a truly well-stocked library, of course, but these are a great start for any Brown sister. In addition, look for biographies and collected works of Giambattista Vico, Leonardo Da Vinci, Johannes Kepler, Roger Bacon, Sir Francis Bacon, Ibn Al-Haytham, Aristotle, Ibn Khaldun, Avicenna, Galileo Galilei, Edmond Halley, Robert Hooke, Christiaan Huygens, Tycho Brahe, Gottfried Leibniz, Blaise Pascal, René Descartes, and Sir Isaac Newton. These are just the tip of the iceberg, and many modern thinkers and scientists have written books that also belong in an ideal Brown Ajah library. For now, though these are a good start.

 

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About Ravenmount

Independent science nerd/writer/music blogger/arts enthusiast/theorist currently in Colorado.
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