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Release Date 22nd July 2024

A History of Irish Magic
Sally North and James North

A unique exploration into Irish druidism, fairy lore, miracle-working saints, sacred kingship, witchcraft trials, the Celtic Order of W. B. Yeats, the Theosophical circle of “AE”, and mystical artist Art O’Murnaghan, A History of Irish Magic is the first book of its kind - deeply researched yet highly readable.

Jointly written by Holythorn Press founders Sally North and James North, A History of Irish Magic is a quest to understand the magic and mystery of Ireland. This book examines ancient legends and folklore, tales of heroes and the fairy folk, and magical beliefs; some of which persist even to the present day. It also explores Ireland’s almost total absence of witch persecutions, unique in Europe, along with the dark and tragic consequences of belief in fairies. The book charts the enduring essence of Irish magical belief from ancient paganism, then through Ireland’s distinctly magical Christianity, to the late 19th century fusion of traditional magic and esotericism, and its deep influence on the wider 20th century pagan revival.  

Ireland has long been known as a land of wonder and enchantment, an island set apart. There is an interplay of culture, sovereignty, and the living spirit of the land; an ever-flowing stream which inspires and renews in every age.

THIS IS IRISH MAGIC.

372 pp. on heavy white Munken paper.

Hardback - Sewn binding, cloth with foiled decorations and title, dust jacket, limited to 300 only, 161 x 245 x 34 mm €60.

Paperback - Sewn binding, card covers, no limit, 156 x 234 x 30 mm. €33.

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PUBLICATIONS 2024

A Path to the Grail – Dion Fortune and Christian Gilson

The Guild of the Master Jesus originated out of Dion Fortune’s wish to form a new kind of Christian worship for adepts which would become The Church of the Graal. She wrote liturgy, rituals and other papers for the Guild, some which will be published here for the first time, along with informative and thought-provoking complementary essays by Christian Gilson who had unrestricted access to all the unpublished Guild materials from the Society of the Inner Light

 

A History of Irish Magic – Sally North and James North

This is our labour of love: a series of linked studies exploring druids, witchcraft, fairies, sacred kingship, Irish Hermeticists, W. B. Yeats and his Celtic Order, and the “Hibernian Adept” Art O’Murnaghan. This study is the first of its kind.

 

Flowering Dusk – Ella Young

This is her fascinating autobiography only published once before (in 1944). From her respectable but stifling Irish Presbyterian family, to theosophy and mysticism, the sacred land, nature beings, fairies. Then America in all its splendours, her life with the mystics of Halcyon and the “Dunites” a free-wheeling community of painters, writers, poets and visionaries in San Luis Opisbo. Ella transplanted her magical Irish ritual order to America, which continued her work until the 1980s.

 

The Alchemical Rose: Althea Gyles and W. B. Yeats – Sally North 

The enigmatic Althea Gyles is best known for the remarkable cover illustrations she created for W. B. Yeats, that and her rather scandalous love life. We usually see glimpses of her through the eyes of others, mainly Yeats, who frequently helped her financially and professionally. This book explores the relationship of Gyles with Yeats and others, including Aleister Crowley, her rejected lover. Sally discovered a previously unknown artwork by Althea Gyles, a print of this work will be included in the book.

 

Glastonbury Abbey (title tbc) – Paul Weston 

We discussed doing this book with Paul some time ago and are delighted that it’s now underway. Paul’s deep researches into the Abbey – its saints, kings, nobles, and sinners is sure to be a fascinating read.  Anyone familiar with Paul’s previous works in history, myth, psycho-geography and synchronicity can look forward to another thrilling and strange journey, this time into the Abbey and its secrets.

The Sphere Group – Sally North and Tony Fuller

A comprehensive collection of the Sphere Group documents, with biographical notes on each of the members. The book will include unpublished material and full colour illustrations of the ritual diagrams with expanded material. Also included will be a discussion of the “controversy” about the legitimacy of the group, actioned by Annie Horniman.

 

As usual, our hardback editions are very limited in number. We are taking pre-orders and expressions of interest informally at the moment on a first come, first served basis. Please get in touch at holythornpress@gmail.com if you’d like to reserve a copy or copies – there is no obligation on your part.

If time allows we will also be bringing out a series of booklets on topics of esoteric interest – more to follow on this in the next newsletter.

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News and Events

Glastonbury Occult Conference 2024

Dr. Sally North will be speaking on Druid and Christian Magic in Medieval Ireland.

Descriptions of what druids actually did are relatively sparse, if we discount writers from the classical world who dealt mainly with the druids they encountered in Gaul and Britain. Dr. North will discuss the druids as described in Irish medieval texts which describe their magical activities in some detail, including the actual spell chants used for battle magic.

The Irish saints were not averse to using magic of their own - though they called it miracles – frequently cursing and smiting their enemies. There are some fascinating points of contact and of difference between the two seemingly opposed groups which this talk will discuss, again, using medieval sources from “Vitae” or Lives of the Saints.

University College Cork - Study of Religions Research Seminar Series will take place on Wednesday 15 February from 5-6pm (Irish & UK Time/GMT) on MS Teams:

Dr Sally North: "A Labyrinth of Images: WB Yeats and the Celtic Order"

This seminar will explore the secret order which Yeats founded in 1896 with the assistance of Maud Gonne, George Pollexfen, Æ, and fellow initiates of the Golden Dawn. We will look at the techniques Yeats used to contact the Tuatha de Danaan and the ancient Irish heroes using selected extracts from his unpublished “Explorations” and initiatory rituals.

The talk is now available on youtube.

University College Cork - Study of Religions Research Seminar Series will take place on Wednesday 5th of April from 5-6pm (Irish & UK Time/GMT) on MS Teams: 

James North: AE Russell, the Dublin Theosophists and the Irish Avatar. 

This talk considers the spiritual, political and cultural programme of 1890s Irish Theosophy. It shows how the vision of a spiritual awakening connected with the West of Ireland was of enduring importance AE, and how several remarkable and forgotten figures in the Dublin circle led by AE took the inspiration of Irish Theosophy from its cradle in Dublin as far as India and the West Coast of America.

The talk is now available on youtube.

About Holythorn Press

Holythorn Press is a small publishing company based in Ireland and London. Our emphasis is on esoteric books which are not only informative, but also well-designed and high quality. We are passionate about bringing to the public books and ideas which were previously kept private, or, have been forgotten and are deserving of a new generation of readers. In addition we will be publishing new writing on esotericism and culture, including, but not limited to: history, poetry, art, and philosophy.

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