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Magus: Complete System of Occult Philosophy Paperback – 1 Mar 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Red Wheel/Weiser; New edition edition (1 Mar. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877289425
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877289425
  • Product Dimensions: 27.9 x 3.1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,899,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

Its author is as mysterious as its subject matter. The one appearance of English occultist FRANCIS BARRETT (b. circa 1770) upon the literary scene is this mammoth 1801 work, a complete study of ritual magic, in practice and in its theoretical underpinnings. Drawing on numerous works of the arcane and the occult, this one-of-a-kind book ignited a fervor for magic, in all its forms, in the Europe in the early 19th century, and may have even influenced Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church. Subtitling his tome Celestial Intelligencer, Barrett promises here to present a "complete system of occult philosophy," containing the "ancient and modern practice of the Cabalistic art," and showing "the wondering effects that may be performed by a Knowledge of the celestial influences, the occult properties of metals, herbs, and stones." Alchemy, talismanic magic, magnetism, ceremonial magic, the conjuration of spirits... Barrett reveals the secrets of all these disciplines, and more. Featuring all the original charts, diagrams, and illustrations, and including Barrett's biographies of famous occultists from Agrippa to Zoroaster, this is a fascinating work of occult and cultural history. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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NATURAL MAGIC is, as we have faid, a comprehenfive knowledge of all Nature, by which we fearch out her fecret and occult operations throughout her vaft and fpacious elaboratory; Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dmitry Dulepov on 16 Dec. 2007
Format: Paperback
The content of this book is taken without additions but with omissions from Agrippa's "The Three Books of Occult Philosophy", with all errors from the original book and without mentioning the original author. Still it may be easier to read because it is smaller than original Agrippa's book. But beware of erros.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Dec. 1999
Format: Paperback
this is interesting, if not a little amusing in gives a good insight into how easily spooked people where about occult matters in the beginning of the 19th century. it has a valuable section on talismans, with symbolism borrowed from zodiacal and kabbalistic circles. I think it even makes some use of the Lemegeton of Solomon for some of the finer points about ritualistic magic in the kabbalah section. Barret also includes a full but somewhat peotic depiction of basic alchemical philosophy, and also what he terms Natural magic (i guess this is something to do with druidism, wicca ???) This makes a good reference book, if not simply becasue so many half-wit new age freaks seem to refer to it continuously in their own works. at least this way you can check their references...
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Oct. 2001
Format: Paperback
Barrets work is excellant. The language is old english and should prove to be one of the forefront referances I have on my shelf. Not many older works such as this have been published, so this is a rare opportunity for anyone with a few bucks to get a fascimle of this founding work. Only by examining the past can we come to an understanding of the future.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 25 reviews
63 of 78 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful work of plagarism 19 April 2001
By D. Boyer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Francis Barrett plagarized 100% of this book from Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy, so there is some good information present, but none of it is original. (well, maybe some of the interesting illustrations) So if you're interested in the full story, seek out Agrippa (though do not buy Kessinger's version. For some reason they only include the first book, but still call it "Three Books of Occult Philosophy". Buy Llewellyn's--it's a beautiful production.)
39 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Historical worth of The Magus 19 April 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Many people have written very dispariging remarks about The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer [first published in 1801]. They probley write such knowagable insights about another auther as well - the Most Honored Counsellor to King Charles the Fifth, and a Judge of the Prerogative Court...Henry Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim. Agrippa lived around 500 years ago, and he wrote a book that is still having an impact today - 'The Three Books of Occult Philosophy'. It is the standard by which all other magical tomes are judged, and The Magus is no exception. The fact that Barrett basterdized the 'Three Books' is well known. But keep in mind, the 'Three Books' had long since fell into obscurity (300 years old by Barretts reconing) and there were no other tomes of any worth (save perhaps Johann Weyer's 'De praestigiis daemonum'). Also keep in mind the timeframe Barrett was living in (1801): 25 years after the American Revolution, 11 years after the first French Revolution, 2 years after George Washingtons death, the Marquis de Sade was still alive then, and Napolion was comming into power. Barrett did an outstanding job, concidering. His book stated the 'modern day magic movement' and directly influenced Eliphas Levi, Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, Aleister Crowley, and so-on. Its impact was enormass, regardless of the glaring inconcistances (and errors) in the text, tables, and with the glyphs. Its history alone make it a book to be respected and admired. Sincerly, Shawn W. Ooten
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Essential for the Occultist in You! 15 Mar. 2006
By K. M. Peters - Published on
Format: Paperback
I can confidently place Francis Barrett's The Magus along with the greatest of all magical/occult books in mainstream press: Dictionary of Angels by Gustav Davidson, Three Books of Occult Philosophy by Agrippa, Black Magic by AE Waite, and Aleister Crowley's 777. For those that are hardcore occultists or even those who are merely curious, this book has alot to offer everyone.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
One of the Most Important Texts of Traditional Western Magic/the Grimoire Tradition! 16 Mar. 2014
By L. Pedersen - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First of all, please forgive me for this review being somewhat lengthy, but a work such as the present title deserves nothing less and so I hope you will indulge me.

For those who are truly passionate about traditional western magic (i.e., the grimoire tradition), Francis Barrett’s classic “The Magus” is absolutely indispensable! Ever since its publication by Lackington, Allen in London, in 1801, this work has had a massive impact on the occult community and it is one of the most influential pieces of literature within its field. It inspired, among others, the famous French occultist and author, Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant, 1810-1875), as well as the founders of one of the most famous of all esoteric societies known today, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Barrett’s purpose in compiling “The Magus” was to present a “complete” handbook of occultism (with a strong emphasis on magic) that would make readily available a collection of the most important teachings of occult/magical theory & philosophy along with the mechanics – as well as examples – of practical application. And in my humble yet honest opinion, he most certainly succeeded in doing exactly that!

Regrettably, however, “The Magus” has undergone a lot of unfavorable publicity over the past several years; this typically at the hands of unqualified individuals, falling under such a title due to the fact of obviously never actually having read the book they are so eager to cast aside. The occult community of today is filled with remarks like ‘A wonderful work of plagiarism’, ‘A bastardization of Agrippas “Three Books of Occult Philosophy”’, and so forth, along with comments on how Barrett stole the information mostly from Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa’s “De Occulta Philosophia Libri Tres” without accrediting him.

All of this is – with all due respect, yet the truth must stand fast and for all to see – nothing but the same unqualified statements that are merely being rehashed by individuals who, like the original commentators, have apparently never bothered to READ the book! Please allow me to spend a few moments of this in defense of a historical work that deserves our respect, as a work important to the study & practice of traditional western magic as well as the cultural treasure that the text is.

The term “plagiarize”, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, reads as follows:

‘To steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own: use (another's production) without crediting the source’.

Now please allow me to quote a passage from “The Magus” itself:

‘we have, at a vast labour and expence, both of time and charges, collected whatsoever can be deemed curious and rare, in regard to the subject of our speculations in Natural Magic – the Cabala – Celestial and Ceremonial Magic – Alchymy – and Magnetism…’

This if from page v of the preface of Barrett’s work – the very PREFACE!!! Barrett is mentioning already here that the book is a collection of teachings and nowhere is he downright claiming that this is a work entirely of his own. However, I can see how some people may feel that I am just projecting and seeing what I want to see in this passage so please allow me to support it with more “evidence”:

‘To which we have annexed a great variety of notes…’

Further remarks indicating that this work was not one of his own writing (above quote also from the preface, page v). We shall continue, however:

‘…all of which we have collected out of the works of the most famous magicians, such as Zoroaster, Hermes, Apollonius, Simon of the Temple, Trithemius, Agrippa, Porta (the Neapolitan), Dee, Paracelsus, Roger Bacon, and a great many others; to which we have subjoined our own notes…’

This quote (on page vii of the preface) follows immediately after Barrett has gone through an overview of what the book contains. And if you recall the definition of plagiarism, this passage here clearly abolishes all such claims regarding “The Magus” as Barrett is clearly listing the writings of Agrippa as being part of the contents of his book – thus NOT presenting any of this as his own, or using material from Agrippa’s books without accrediting him. He even ads – again – that these writings of other occultists are then merely accompanied by his own notes.

As one last quote, if you would indulge me; something that does not even require any additional commentary from me as everything is as obvious as human reason can ask for (at the very end of page 50 of Book I, Part I):

‘The Author having, under the title of Natural Magic, collected and arranged every thing that was curious, scarce, and valuable, as well his own experiments, as those in which he has been indefatigable in gathering from the science and practice of Magical Authors, and those the most ancient and abstruse, as may be seen in the list at the end of the Book, where he has put down the names of the authors, from which he has translated many things that were never yet published in the English language, particularly Hermes, Tritemius, Paracelsus, Bacon, Dee, Porta, Agrippa, &c. &c. &c.; from whom he has not been ashamed to borrow what he thought and knew would be valuable and gratifying to the sons of Wisdom, in addition to many other rare and uncommon experiments relative to this art.’

This defense of Francis Barrett’s “The Magus” is important, I believe, for a proper review to be done due to the general misconceptions and general spreading of false information that may otherwise feed further possibilities of misunderstandings about a book as important as this. As I have said, I personally find “The Magus” to be indispensable to the grimoire tradition as we have, in this work, a collection of the best of the best: Agrippa’s occult and magical theory & philosophy – the “how does it work?/why does it work?” behind the purely practical instructions of the grimoires; the operational mechanics of magic as found in pseudo-Agrippa’s “Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy”; and the two grimoires, “The Heptameron” and Johann Trithemius’ “The Art of Drawing Spirits Into Crystals”, to complete the package with practical examples.

Much of the core-material on magic found in Agrippas 1533 classic, “De Occulta Philosophia Libri Tres” – a treatise that was not readily available in the late 1700s/early 1800s – was made more easily accessible by being printed almost verbatim by Barrett. And the famous – and, to some extent, infamous – so-called fourth book, or “Of Occult Philosophy, or of Magical Ceremonies – The Fourth Book”, by pseudo-Agrippa, which was basically a more practice-focused distillation of what Agrippa covered in his three books, had now also become easily obtainable to the occultists of the time. Barrett’s goal of making difficult to find, and costly, teachings of occultism – especially magic – readily available, and all collected into one volume, edited to read as one single text rather than bits and pieces of this & that chopped up and glued together, was fully accomplished and he should be commended for it rather than shunned. He did nothing wrong and everything right, and the occult community of today owes him more than they will ever realize.

I still recommend “The Magus” as the first and most important text to any and all who wish to venture into the study & practice of traditional western magic as it basically has everything one needs to understand it (with sufficient study of the treatise, naturally) as well as practice it; as mentioned earlier, it even includes a couple of grimoires to give clear examples of things that have been covered earlier in the text. While Agrippa’s three books are still of immense importance due to these containing even more than what Barrett included therefrom in “The Magus”, the former ought to be studied later and Barrett’s work first simply due to the latter having the best of both worlds: the theory & philosophy as well as the practice thereof.

One last thing I wish to say… the very best edition available of this work at the present time is, without a doubt, that of Red Wheel/Weiser (my own copy of which I purchased nearly a decade and a half ago, back when the publishing house was just called "Samuel Weiser, Inc."), due to this being a facsimile of the original rather than a re-typing of the book. While the Weiser edition is but a mere paperback (and ought to be a beautiful, properly bound hardcover), I still find it preferable to have a facsimile that retains the early 19th century charm – with old style “s” printing and all – rather than something that has been entirely reset in modern type.

As for the contents, I believe this is better left to the individual simply looking in the inside of the book here on and reading through the viewable Table of Contents, rather than my rehashing it here.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Puts your reason to the test...interesting and challenging 31 Oct. 2000
By "arfca" - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book is chock full of interesting takes on the Bible and God as well as practical ways for affecting reality through spiritually charged knoweldge and their items. Barrett like Esuebius pulls together a lot of older information that, again, puts one in a p[osition to better consider reality and your p[lace in it with God. A must read for seekers, intelligencers, and psychonauts; or just someone normal who wants to change their mind.
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