Book review: Queer Magic

queer magicPrower, Tomas. Queer Magic: LGBT+ Spirituality and Culture from Around the World. Llewellyn, 2018.

As it’s Pride Month, it seems a good time to do a review of Queer Magic, a book which takes you on a journey around the world and across the centuries to explore the intersection between LGBT+ people and magical practices and spiritualities.

While a lot of queer studies focus on the experience of LGBT+ people in the modern West, Prower’s book is truly global in scope: encompassing every continent and touching on Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, the Celts and Vikings, Hinduism, Budhism, Islam, African traditional religions, Aboriginal Australia and more.

Queer Magic uncovers the stories, cultures, beliefs and lives of people who have often been left out of mainstream historic acounts because of their gender or sexuality. As you go on your journey around the world in this book, Prower is an amiable and knowledgeable guide, full of information and wisdom. Queer Magic shows us that being LGBT+ is not a new phenomenon, nor one created or confined by modern Western concepts of gender and sexuality. LGBT+ people are everywhere, in all human cultures at all times.

While Prower is very much our “tour guide” on this voyage, he also includes other voices throughout, with special guests from around the worldwide LGBT+ community who share their personal experiences of life in particular cultures as well as queer magical practices and meditations. This makes Queer Magic a book by and for the global queer community and elevates the voices of queer people from outside mainstream Western culture.

The book does at points lean heavily on the “G” of LGBT+, a point which Prower acknowledges in the introduction, noting that throughout patriarchal history, women’s lives were often not recorded. Still, the book does a good job of providing representation for lesbians, bisexuals and trans folk as well as gay men.

My partner and I read this book to each other, a chapter a night, as a way of both discovering more about LGBT+ cultures around the world and deepening our own understanding of what it is to be a queer pagan, part of a global “tribe”, and the central metaphor of the book as a voyage, with different stops to disembark and look around, made it perfect for this kind of reading.

Prower writes in the introduction that “this kind of queer communal gathering of wisdom, magic and personal experiences is truly a blessing of our time”. Queer Magic represents the collected tales of thousands of people whose voices were silenced by history, and whose stories are ready to be heard once again.

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