"These pages must stand for what they are--a brief account of the history in Christian times of that perverted way of the soul which we call magic, or (on a lower level) witchcraft, and with the reaction against it. That they tend to deal more with the lower level than with any nobler dream is inevitable. The nobler idea of virtue mingled with power either worked itself out eventually as experimental science (but the extent to which experimental science was at any time denounced has probably been exaggerated), or it was kept carefully secluded in its own Rites (and to know these one would have had to share them), or it did in fact degenerate into base and disgusting evils (as I have here and there tried to suggest). No-one will derive any knowledge of initiation from this book; if he wishes to meet 'the tall, black man' or to find the proper method of using the Reversed Pentagram, he must rely on his own heart, which will, no doubt, be one way or other sufficient."--From the preface.