Sunday, August 01, 2004

Review: Black Magick Woman

Black Magick Woman: The Sinister Side of the Song of Solomon
By Janet Tyson
EcceNova Editions, 2003
ISBN 0-9731648-5-9, 196 pages

You may never look at the Song of Solomon the same way again. Traditionally thought of as a love song or a symbolic tribute about God’s love for Israel, Janet Tyson, a Fellow with the University of British Columbia, takes you on a whole new and unorthodox interpretation of this classical Hebrew tale.

In Black Magick Woman, the Egyptian Priestess Bathya is portrayed as a seductress casting spells and using sorcery to get what she wants most from King Solomon: his royal bloodline. The song, Tyson claims, was originally intended to convey to Israeli men the dangers of women, especially foreign women. It also might have been a lesson to keep the Jewish blood pure. As times changed, so did the interpretation of the song.

Tyson goes through each line in the Song of Solomon in great detail, getting right down into the symbolism, incantations, and other cultural, historical and religious aspects. This makes the work an awesome academic accomplishment and a fascinating read. It also somehow manages to accomplish this with an easy style that doesn’t send the reader’s head spinning, like so many academic books do. Overall, whether you are familiar with the Song of Solomon or not, Black Magick Woman is highly recommended.

© 2004 . This review originally appeared in the Summer 2004 issue of WynterGreene.

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