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Ch.20 Grimoires of Magick (WMB 20.b)

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @


Chapter 20, part b

The first of the grimoires is Liber Juratus, or The Sworn Book of Honorius, which can be dated by references to it in the thirteenth century under its other name of Liber Sacer or Liber Sacratus. Existing manuscripts of this grimoire can be dated to the fourteenth century (e.g. Sloane MS 3854), and it is known that John Dee had a copy of this grimoire (Sloane MS 313, with Dee’s marginal notes). Liber Juratus contains the original Sigillum Dei Aemeth (’Seal of God’s Truth’) used by Dee and others, the oath at the beginning, long lists of appropriate angels for planetary and zodiacal work, and a whole host of material results to perform rituals for.

Next is the Heptameron (’Seven Days’) of Peter de Abano, a manual of planetary magick with the planetary archangels. This book was first published in 1496, and then also published with Agrippa’s Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy as an appendix in 1554, and in Latin in 1600, being subsequently translated into English by Robert Turner in his 1655 edition of the Fourth Book. The disparity between the publication date and the earlier lifetime of Peter de Abano has been held up as a reason for it not being his work, and it has been suggested he was not a magician. However, not only were magickal books often published posthumously, but de Abano was twice tried by the Inquisition as a magician (unsuccessfully) and also mentioned grimoires in his 1310 work Lucidator. There is also good evidence to support the attribution of the Italian scholar Peter de Abano (1250-1316) as the author of the Heptameron.[1] The conjurations in this book are extremely important, having influenced the Key of Solomon and the Lemegeton. Included in its contents are the creation of the magick circle, the consecrations of salt, water and incense, and planetary hours. This is all material which would be repeated and adapted throughout the subsequent grimoires.

The works of the German Abbot Johannes Trithemius (1462-1516) have also played a significant part in influencing both the subsequent magick of the grimoires and also the Wiccan tradition. Trithemius wrote the Steganographia, which contributed directly to the Lemegeton as the sub-books of the Theurgia-Goetia and the Ars Paulina. Dee also used a copy of the Steganographia as part of the inspiration for the Enochian system. Trithemius’ work The art of drawing spirits into crystals contains the magick circle used by Alex Sanders, and also has reference to the use of the wand in conjuring the magick circle, and words spoken during this conjuration. One of his other books, Polygraphia, seems to be the origin of the Theban Script.

Trithemius was thus not only a significant magickal scholar, whose influence can be seen not only in the work he produced, but also in his students whose work would find its way into later magickal traditions, namely Henry Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1533) and Paracelsus (1493-1541). Although Trithemius himself was very anti-witchcraft, as can be seen by his statement in Liber Octo Quaestionem, this did not prevent the use of his works subsequently in witchcraft. His antipathy towards witches and support of the church line was clear when he declared:

“Witches are very pernicious; they make pacts with demons and by solemn profession of faith, become vassals of the demons, whom they worship everlastingly. They must not be tolerated, but rather terminated wherever found.”[2]

Henry Cornelius Agrippa (1486-1535) was a student of Trithemius whose work was a foundation stone of modern magick. His three volume Three Books of Occult Philosophy were distributed privately as manuscripts around 1510, and then printed in 1531. This work is a huge collection of material from natural magick to Qabalah and sigilisation. The other classic work of Agrippa’s is his Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy. This book, of six parts, was only partially written by Agrippa, who wrote the first two sections, Of Geomancy, and Of Occult Philosophy, or Magickal Ceremonies. The latter contains significant material on creating the magick circle, the Liber Spirituum, consecrations and invocations. The remainder of the book includes the Heptameron of Peter de Abano (discussed previously), and the Arbatel of Magick (covering Olympic Spirits). Agrippa also wrote one of the first books which could be considered feminist and was ahead of its time, in his 1529 work, Female Pre-eminence: or the Dignity and Excellency of that sex, above the Male.

Johann Weyer (1515-1588) was a student of Agrippa’s, whose contribution is more through transmission of material and attitude. Weyer’s book Praestigiis Daemonum, published in 1563, contained a harsh rebuttal of the hideous Malleus Maleficarum which had been used so cruelly by the church. Sigmund Freud rated this book as one of the ten most significant books of all time, possibly because Weyer was the first person to adopt a psychological approach to the issues of both the witches and the witch-hunts. The 1583 edition of this book contained an appendix called Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, of sixty-nine demons, (almost identical to the list of seventy-two demons in the Goetia), which was reproduced by Scot in his Discoverie of Witchcraft.

Reginald Scot (1538-1599) produced a grimoire in spite of himself! Scot wrote the book The Discoverie of Witchcraft in 1584 to diminish fear and belief in witches. However, as we have already shown, this work became a standard manual for those seeking to learn more of the practices of magick and witchcraft, drawing as it did from a wide range of sources. Thus, for example, we see the recipe given by Scot for flying ointment being copied and spoken by the chief witch (called) Hecate in Thomas Middleton’s 1613 play The Witch.

Scot found himself in direct opposition to King James I of England (who was also known as King James VI of Scotland), who ordered the book to be burned and wrote his own extreme anti-witchcraft work of 1597, Daemonologie.

It is amusing to note that later versions of the book included even more grimoire material, adding further to the sources available to its readers. The third edition in 1665 gained a second book to the Discourse of Devils and Spirits and nine extra chapters on conjurations. Scot listed many of the grimoires, as can be seen in the list below (our notes in square brackets), perhaps unintentionally providing a reading list for his readers:

“these conjurors carrie about at this daie, bookes intituled under the names of Adam, Abel, Tobie, & Enoch…Abraham, Aaron and Salomon [Key of Solomon]…Zacharie, Paule [Ars Paulina], Honorius [Book of Honorius], Cyprian [probably Clavis Inferni], Jerome, Jeremie, Albert [Albertus Magnus], and Thomas: also of the angels, Riziel, Razael [Sepher Razael], and Raphael…Ars Almadell [Almadel], ars Notoria [Notory Art], ars Bulaphiae, ars Arthephi, ars Pomena, ars Revelationis, &c.”

[1] See The Goetia of Dr Rudd, Skinner & Rankine, 2007 [2] Liber Octo Quaestionem, Trithemius, 1515

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.


My name is Sorita d'Este

and this is my website and blog!  Thanks for visiting - I hope you are finding what you are looking for!


Many years ago I dedicated myself to the pursuit of both esoteric knowledge, and an understanding of polytheism, the Gods and Nature.  I have been a full-time writer, author and publisher, specialising subjects linked to the occult, witchcraft, Paganism, mythology, ancient religions and magic - and all kinds of things in between since 2003. 


I live on a hill in Glastonbury, overlooking the marshes of Somerset,  a place of myth and legend, and a crossroad for many different religions. Here I am frequently found digging and growing, serving my fluffy rescue cat and navigating the unknown with my teenage son.  

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