Francis Barrett - The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer; being a complete system of occult philosophy - 1875

Francis Barrett - The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer; being a complete system of occult philosophy - 1875
Esoterie, Geïllustreerd - Aantal: 1 - Handgekleurde illustraties

Quarto: XVI, 175, 198 pages.

Portrait frontispiece and 22 engraved plates (one bound as frontispiece), including five hand-coloured. The publisher's advertisement leaf (lacking in most copies) is not present here.

Some very minor soiling but generally an excellent copy, in later half cloth, uncut, and rebacked with some of the original spine preserved; some slight wear. A very striking book.

This is an 1875 facsimile of the original 1801, with five (and not four, as generally carried by the 1801 edition) coloured plates.


‘Composed in the Christian tradition, The Magus was a farrago of Renaissance alchemy and natural and talismatic magic that fitted contemporary Gothic taste... The book's most startling feature was a set of gargoyle-like portraits of demons conjured up in ritual magic ceremonies’ (DNB).

‘Singulier et remarquable ouvrage d'une importance capitale pour les études magiques; les figures sont des plus curieuses et belles.’ (Caillet).

‘The Magus did offer the public a fairly complete occult manual, which taught the principles of arithmology and correspondences, planetary and Kabbalistic magic, and scrying technique. A series of potted biographies of 'great magicians' completed the work. There was stuff aplenty for the aspiring magi, as well as for the gothic novelists who were a part of the same reaction against classicism and pure reason’ (Joscelyn Godwin, The Theosophical Enlightenment (1994), 119).


Much of the material was collected by Barrett from older occult handbooks (Zoroaster, Hermes, Apollonius, Dee, Paracelsus, Roger Bacon, and a great many others) but most seems drawn from Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy and Pietro d'Abano's Heptameron. Previous demonologists such as Binsfeld (1589) had drawn up lists that comprised a hierarchy of devils, and attributed them with the power to instigate people to commit the seven deadly sins. Lucifer was associated with Pride, Satan with Anger and so forth. In The Magus Barrett altered the ‘roster of devils’ and Satan now became a prince of deluders (serving conjurers and witches).
The book was originally published with two books in a single volume, as was common with many texts of this period. It facilitated the modern revival of magic by making information from otherwise rare books more readily available.

Influence: on Mormonism?

It may have influenced the novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton and the occultist Eliphas Levi. Even farther afield, some have speculated on long chains of influence from various religious texts including, through Masonry to Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter-day Saint movement. In a lecture to the Mormon History Association (20 April 1974) the immediate Past-President of the organization, Dr Reed C. Durham claimed that Barrett’s contained a list of magic seals including ‘the very talisman which Joseph Smith had in his possession at the time of his martyrdom’ (in 1844).
The importance of the book during the 1800s and more recently is the subject of the PhD thesis by Robert A. Priddle, ‘More Cunning than Folk’: An Analysis of Francis Barrett’s The Magus as indicative of a Transitional Period of English Magic, (University of Ottawa, 2013).

A quite extraordinary and very scarce book, especially in this condition. It has, as it should, separate title pages: The true secret of the philosophers' stone: p. [51]; The magus; or, Celestial intelligencer: p. [71]; The magus; or celestial intelligencer, book II. Part I. Containing magnetism, and cabalistical magic. The cabala; or, the sacred mysteries of ceremonial magic illustrated: p. [31]; On the particular composition of the magical circle... book II, part III: p. [105]; The magic and philosophy of trithemius of Spanheim: containing his book of secret things ... part IV: p. [128]; Biographia antiqua; or, an account of the lives and writings of the ancient and modern magi, cabalists, and philosophers: p. [141].

Aantal boeken
Esoterie, Geïllustreerd
Auteur/ Illustrator
Francis Barrett
The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer; being a complete system of occult philosophy
Zeer goed
Publicatiejaar oudste item
Eerste druk in dit formaat
Oorspronkelijke taal
London: for Lackington, Allen, and Co., 1801 [but 1875].
Harde kaft
Handgekleurde illustraties
Aantal pagina‘s.
28×22 cm
Nog niet geregistreerd?
Door gratis een Catawiki-account aan te maken, kun je bieden op onze 65.000 bijzondere objecten die iedere week geveild worden.