72 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 1999
Cornelius Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy must rank as one of, if not the most important work ever written on the Western Occult tradition. Written in relative youth, it nevertheless has an immensely broad range of topics covering Goetia ("Black magic") and Theurgia ("White magic') while still remaining in the Christian tradition. Agrippa's work certainly provides numerous practical instructions, but always ties together a wide range of classical and traditional sources in a broad theorectical framework. As a traditional astrologer I found his exposition of astrological magic to be among the best available in English, better than Marsilio Ficino's Three Books of Life (though the Boer translation is fairly universally disliked). Much of astrological magic still remains locked up in Latin, Thabit Ibn Qurra's De Imaginibus, edited by Carmody and Picatrix, edited by Pingree being the most salient examples. I should note, however, that Brill has just published a new edition of Agrippa in the original Latin which does differ in some respects from the Freake translation that Tyson has edited in this edition. For example, Chapter 50, Book II at 403 Agrippa describes the construction of amulets for love and concord between two people. The first full paragraph in the Tyson edition ends, "...let them [the two images] be wrapped up in silk and cast away or spolied. In the Latin Brill edition the sentence states that the images should be wrapped in "fine linen cloth" and "buried". Nonetheless if I could have only one book on the Western occult tradition (perish the thought!) this would be it. Anyone with a serious interest in studying or practicing in this area should have this book
48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 1998
I'm normally very skeptical about anything produced by Llewellyn, but not only is this an honest reproduction of Agrippa's brilliant works (I've seen the first English translation for myself--1560, I think), but Donald Tyson's scholarship is almost comparable to Agrippa's own. The notes are extensive & do a marvelous job of fleshing out the myriad brief & passing references in the text. Quotes from Agrippa's most likely sources provide timely insights into his own mind, and Tyson in addition offers a notes on sources foreign to or later than Agrippa for comparative study. Tyson's editing does not disturb the text at all, but rather makes it that much more clear. His diagrams & seals are well produced, & his corrections (which include skilled reanalysis of the Hebrew) & major additions are saved for the back of each chapter and of the whole volume. These appendices, and the bibliographical notes as well, are intelligent, clearheaded & very useful. Agrippa's genius is well known, but Tyson's fine scholarship for this volume deserves acknowledgment as well. I recommend this book especially strongly to serious students of magic who are tired of the flood of New Age-y magical manuals & gothic garbage tossed out like so much glitter by these shallow modern writers who use "magic" as a substitute for intelligence, or as a solution to their ego problems.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2009
I first encountered Cornelius Agrippa as a very young man many years ago in a very short extract of his work appearing somewhere or other, and I was hooked. Determining to track down his Three Books of Occult Philosophy I was astonished to learn that (at that time) there were only two known places in the world where his writing was kept. The first was under lock and key in the Vatican (surprise! surprise!) and the second was in the University of Chicago Library (and only available in the Reference department to bona fide scholars conducting "serious academic research"). Disgusted by the extent of the apparent censorship in the so-called Free World, I gave up. But over the years Agrippa remained in the back of my mind as someone clearly worth reading. Then, recently, I stumbled upon the Llewellyn publication available on Amazon. Excited by its availability (at last!) I immediately ordered a copy (half expecting to be disappointed in my younger self's taste). On the book's delivery I was a wee bit intimated by appearances. It is, after all a hefty tome of some 938 pages, and, to discourage further, it is an OLD text, some five hundred years old, in fact, and, to top it off, pubished in a BLACK binding! But, and this is the crux of it all, be not discouraged! If you are at all interested in the most important source materials on the true nature of the world, this is THE book. Beautifully written, brilliantly annotated, and ACCESSIBLE! I speak here as a layperson and sceptic with very little esoteric knowledge and even less of the occult. Agrippa's treatise is a breath of fresh air in a the midst of a confusion of New Age waffle. Great stuff! Enjoy!
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 4 May 1998
This is the book most often found at the heart of many of the modern groups practising some form of Western esoteric/magickal system. This book influenced the Golden Dawn and many other groups which went on to form the foundation of classical magick in the West. Today, this heavy tome is still a treasure trove of information, technique, and erudition essential to anyone wishing to walk the path of Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, or other such related paths. Even Chaos magicians will find something useful in this book. It's a tremendous resource.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 21 June 2012
I have not doubt the book printed edition weighs a ton and is probably well worth the expenditure and the muscle power to hump it around from bed to armchair or vice versa. The Kindle edition leaves a lot to be desired but it is cheap and gives a good insight into the contents of the printed edition. However I am most disappointed to find the is no access to a table of contents or index, there are no notes or marks and no page numbers so navigation around the 600 odd pages is a nightmare and intellectual insight becomes a real chore. Noses to the grindstone will be required lads and lassies if you are considering putting it on your Kindle for a quiet browse in bed. I only downloaded the Kindle Edition to my PC so I'm not sure what it looks like on the actual portable Kindle that I have purchased also but I think readers will struggle there. The paperback printed edition looks really good value at £24 which is a substantial discount
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2011
This book is a treasure trove of random weirdness. Having never purchased a 'real' magic book before this book contains a wealth of information, mind you a lot of it is very random. Although bought as a curiosity, in an attempt to find inspiration for musical composition, this book is a rewarding read. Having a nice biography section, well written introduction and excellent notes and commentary. Some of the text is hard to follow, especially the construction of symbols and diagrams but repeated reading probably solve this. I am not familiar with much of what Tyson and Agrippa discuss, and thus am not able to judge its accuracy however Tyson's scholarship seems erudite and thorough.
Most importantly to me is that the book is NOT 300 odd pages as stated... perhaps the original is, but this edition is nearer to 900....thats right 900 pages. I nearly fell over when I received it from the courier.
It also looks fairly awesome sitting on a coffee table when relatives come round as it is huge ominous and black. It is definitely not easily portable. Top work old dead magic genius fella and modern translator guy, bravo.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2007
Most of other books (including "The Magus", for example) directly or indirectly take information from this book. This is fundamental book and may be the only you really need in your magic library. You certainly will not be disappointed!
This edition is also prefixed with a very interesting biography og Cornelius Agrippa. Edition is good but it is paperback, which is niot very convinient for such a thick book. Get a good cover for it if you can.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 23 July 2007
This is a curiosity from another age. In the 16th Century, much of what we would now regard as science was not based on observation or experiment but, rather like law, based on prescedent and the words of earlier writers and written sources of authority. This book is a treasure trove on contemporary magical beliefs, and techniques for making people fall in love with you, telling the future and so forth. Writers of books like this, especially Shakespeare's contemporary, Dr John Dee, are supposed to be the models for Prospero in 'The Tempest.'
WB Yeats, who subscribed to a kind of Jungian belief in a collective unconscious, used this book as a source of images for some of his poems. His idea was that people would instinctively know what he was talking about as they shared the same unconscious.
It is rather sad to see that some people living in 2007 should regard this book as a scientific text of some sort, but there you go.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 September 2014
Of course, the "real" book is fine. However, this kindle book is so badly formatted it is useless.
The table of contents consists of book 1, 2, 3 -- that's all!
The text is one continuous flow, respecting neither section headings nor paragraphs.
Tables are exploded -- one cell after the other, without any indication of how the bits come together in which row or column.
Any foreign alphabet (usually Hebrew I guess) is transcribed as Roman letters with some accent or the other, so it is impossible to unravel them.
It seems the book was simply turned to text, so no formatting, tables, foreign alphabets, etc, were preserved, like saving a word file as text!
The book is public domain, being some hundreds of years old, so far better copies are available online for free.
A stupid purchase on my part.
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 1999
Complex but annoyingly old-english. It's hard to read, but well worth the time and money, depending on what you're looking for. Tyson's explanation of the more obscure parts help very much, and offer important ideas that would have otherwise been missed by our modern-leaning minds.