Author Topic: top 10 grimoires - an experts selection  (Read 3863 times)

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top 10 grimoires - an experts selection
« on: April 08, 2009, 01:12:44 PM », Wednesday 8 April 2009

"Grimoires are books that contain a mix of spells, conjurations, natural secrets and ancient wisdom. Their origins date back to the dawn of writing and their subsequent history is entwined with that of the religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the development of science, the cultural influence of print, and the social impact of European colonialism."

Owen Davies, professor of social history at the University of Hertfordshire, has written extensively about the history of magic, witchcraft and ghosts. Here he picks his top 10

1. The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses
Although one of the more recent grimoires, first circulating in manuscript in the 18th century, this has to be number one for the breadth of its influence. From Germany it spread to America via the Pennsylvania Dutch, and once in cheap print was subsequently adopted by African Americans. With its pseudo-Hebraic mystical symbols, spirit conjurations and psalms, this book of the secret wisdom of Moses was a founding text of Rastafarianism and various religious movements in west Africa, as well as a cause célèbre in post-war Germany.

2. The Clavicule of Solomon
This is the granddaddy of grimoires. Mystical books purporting to be written by King Solomon were already circulating in the eastern Mediterranean during the first few centuries AD. By the 15th century hundreds of copies were in the hands of Western scientists and clergymen. While some denounced these Solomonic texts as heretical, many clergymen secretly pored over them. Some had lofty ambitions to obtain wisdom from the "wisest of the wise", while others sought to enrich themselves by discovering treasures and vanquishing the spirits that guarded them.

3. Petit Albert
The "Little Albert" symbolises the huge cultural impact of the cheap print revolution of the early 18th century. The flood gates of magical knowledge were opened during the so-called Enlightenment and the Petit Albert became a name to conjure with across France and its overseas colonies. As well as practical household tips it included spells to catch fish, charms for healing, and instructions on how to make a Hand of Glory, which would render one invisible.

4. The Book of St Cyprian
Grimoires purporting to have been written by a legendary St Cyprian (there was a real St Cyprian as well) became popular in Scandinavia during the late 18th century, while in Spain and Portugal print editions of the Libro de San Cipriano included a gazetteer to treasure sites and the magical means to obtain their hidden riches. During the early 20th century, editions began to appear in South America, and copies can now be purchased from the streets of Mexico City to herbalist stalls high in the Andes.

5. Dragon rouge
Like the Petit Albert, the Red Dragon was another product of the French cheap grimoire boom of the 18th century. Although first published in the following century, it was basically a version of the Grand grimoire, an earlier magic book which was infamous for including an invocation of the Devil and his lieutenants. The Dragon rouge circulated far more widely though, and is well known today in former and current French colonies in the Caribbean.

6. The Book of Honorius
Books attributed to Honorius of Thebes were second only to those of Solomon in notoriety in the medieval period. In keeping with a strong theme in grimoire history, there is no evidence that an arch magician named Honorius lived in antiquity - as manuscripts ascribed to him stated. Through prayers and invocations, books of Honorius gave instructions on how to receive visions of God, Hell and purgatory, and knowledge of all science. Very handy.

7. The Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy
Cornelius Agrippa was one of the most influential occult philosophers of the 16th century. He certainly wrote three books on the occult sciences, but he had nothing to do with the Fourth Book which appeared shortly after his death. This book of spirit conjuration blackened the name of Agrippa at a time when the witch trials were being stoked across Europe.

8. The Magus
Published in 1801 and written by the British occultist and disaster-prone balloonist Francis Barrett, The Magus was a re-statement of 17th-century occult science, and borrowed heavily from an English edition of the Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy. It was a flop at the time but its influence was subsequently considerable on the occult revival of the late 19th century and contemporary magical traditions. In the early 20th century a plagiarised version produced by an American occult entrepreneur and entitled The Great Book of Magical Art, Hindu Magic and East Indian Occultism became much sought after in the US and the Caribbean.

9. The Necronomicon
A figment of the ingenious imagination of the influential early 20th-century writer of horror and fantasy HP Lovecraft, this mysterious book of secret wisdom was penned in the eighth century by a mad Yemeni poet. Despite being a literary fiction, several "real" Necronomicons have been published over the decades, and today it has as much a right to be considered a grimoire as the other entries in this Top 10.

10. Book of Shadows
Last but not least there is the founding text of modern Wicca – a pagan religion founded in the 1940s by the retired civil servant, folklorist, freemason and occultist Gerald Gardner. He claimed to have received a copy of this "ancient" magical text from a secret coven of witches, one of the last of a line of worshippers of an ancient fertility religion, which he and his followers believed had survived centuries of persecution by Christian authorities. Through its mention in such popular occult television dramas as Charmed, it has achieved considerable cultural recognition.

If you have any others you think are missing let us know what they are.


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Re: top 10 grimoires - an experts selection
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2009, 01:46:29 PM »
The BoS by Gardner is not the founding text of modern wicca. It is however the founding text for Gardenerian Wicca, the branch of Wicca founded by Gerald Gardner. There is no official text for Wicca, it is primarily an oral tradition. Each wiccan writes his or her own BoS for personal use.


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Re: top 10 grimoires - an experts selection
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2009, 10:49:57 AM »
Your missing the Book of Abraham I believe. This was the text that Nicholas Flamel is said to have recieved from a poor man in exchange for money for food. The book was leather bound and had a metalic binding. This book is said to have contained the alchemical texts for creating the philosophers stone, the creation of powerful golems, and other writings. Story goes that it disappeared or never existed or that such a book is a lost item.  That's just a rough history and the entire book was written in ancient Hebrew.
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Re: top 10 grimoires - an experts selection
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2009, 11:05:32 AM »
dude you are forgetting the covenent of Shemhazzai, the book of raziel, and the immortals grimoires (the book of metatron and sandalphon)
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Re: top 10 grimoires - an experts selection
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2009, 12:20:15 PM »
I think he was going for more popular books that are in publishing now. This was a news post by popular demand. These books are popular and common the other books we read tend to be more serious and less well known (no offence to the books on this list). These are common grimoires that any person can purchase at pretty much any major bookstore (like borders). These books are basics and entertainment books (although I highly feel that the book of shadows is not an entertainment book as some may feel about some of the others).
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Re: top 10 grimoires - an experts selection
« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2010, 10:10:32 AM »
This list was very helpful!
And I see what Miss Rave is saying. I'm sure these books would be much easier to find!

So, a quick question: Would these books be a good starting point? As far as reading gimoires goes, that is.


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Re: top 10 grimoires - an experts selection
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2010, 12:53:45 PM »
Ah! Thank you.


Because everyone loves the alphabet, yeah?

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Re: top 10 grimoires - an experts selection
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2010, 08:07:50 PM »
i made a joke but thought id better remove it in case you took it the wrong way and banned me. for some reason it wont delete so i had to edit it out
« Last Edit: September 05, 2010, 08:09:36 PM by boodle »