Pre 1800 books on magic


With or without a k on the end! I see lots of books on witchcraft (the one Carla recently did a thread on does sound interesting!), most I can trace back to Gerald Gardner or the Golden Dawn in general, no matter what they say. Most that say NOT Wicca, are, which wouldn't be a problem if that was the direction I wished to go. Few, if any, I have found can be traced back to anything really specific to the 1700's or earlier re witchcraft, or wise women, although I'm sure they must be out there. Not looking for a dark grimoire or anything, just would love to see information from much earlier than is usually found re oils, rituals, nature. So much claims a direct link to centuries long past, but when I do the research to find the source, it usually is based on Gerald Gardner or some aspect of the Golden Dawn. Anyone find any great old books as reference regarding Wise Women? I look at sources and am getting where I think it's just better to stay with my own rituals I form from scratch. Would be interesting to see some realllly old books though!


I can understand that. There hasn't been a secret society or magic(k)al organization who didn't claim antiquity, especially Gardner. But you might try looking into Enochian magic. It is perhaps very distinct from what you are looking for, but time-wise it fits, it's from the 16th century.

Although titled Modern Magick, Donald Michael Kraig's book has some very interesting references to older sources, even going into Kabbalistic magic, which I found particularly interesting. I also found his other book, Modern Sex Magic, very interesting as well. They do concentrate on the Golden Dawn, but both go into the traditions of magic from older times. They could be a good jumping off point for you.

As to the actual older source books, I have a list somewhere on my tablet, I'll give you a few names as soon as it is charged. But again, could be my own interests, they're not exactly the wise woman type.

ETA: Here we are. I've got the book of Abramelin the Mage from the 13th century, very involved and complicated stuff. I have the "Heptameron or Magical Elements" attributed to physician Peter de Abano (1250-1316), but I haven't read it. Also I have the Grimoire of Armadel, from the 17th century.


I don't know much about this, but I think most older books are like medieval grimoires and focus on ceremonial magic. You can see some of these texts here:

I look forward to seeing what people suggest.


My first thought was that, since writing about magic and witchcraft, from the point of view of being a witch was likely to get you burned at the stake (literally) in those days, I wouldn't expect many books on the subject. Then I thought of the "Malleus Maleficarum", written in 1486 by Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger. It is THE text for all your witch hunting activities. Thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people were put on trial and put to death using this book as the basis of the evidence. As such, it actually is an important text (we must study history to keep from repeating it, yes?).

It is available as a free download at;

{edit} I forgot, there's also a good write-up on it at Wikipedia of course;'_Hammer


thanks so much, closrapexa, Carla and Trogon!

I do enjoy historical background and research and different sources. To be honest, I'm not sure exactly what I am looking for. I guess it's more what I'm NOT looking for. I'm not looking for yet another book written in our time that purports to be something it's not, that they are hazy re references (one thing I can do, is research!) and sources and when I do follow as much as I can back, most leads to Gardner or Crowley and that's not what I'm looking for. So PLEASE keep any suggestions coming! The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know! :) I certainly don't expect to find all the answers in this lifetime, but that doesn't keep me from looking!


I have a book first published in 1896, but read on!

This book is a translation of cuniform tablets predating Christianity.

The book cover says,
"Babylonian Magic and Sorcery (the title)


'The Prayers of the Lifting of the Hand'

The Cuneiform Texts of a Group of Babylonian and Assyrian Incantations and Magical Formulae edited with Transliterations, Translations and Full Vocabulary from Tablets of the Kuyunjik Collections Preserved in the British Museum

Leonard W. King, M.A.
Foreword by R. A. Gilbert"


well that sounds interesting ThunderWolf!

I will check into that one as well.
Oh and this isn't really in this category we're talking about, but a book I found generally interesting was Noetic Magic. It's not an old book, not about spells but more about history. Not a widely published book, but if you do a search on Amazon, I believe it comes up.


There is the stuff you can find on-line such at esoteric archives, such as Agrippa's 'Occult Philosophy'. Waite's compendium of ceremonial magic is also available free online:

Barret's The Magus (basically a rip-off of Agrippa) --

If you can read German Scheible's Das Kloster is a huge compendium of magical texts (and the source for english compendiums such as Waite's).

For more folk magic type stuff Trachtenburg's study of medieval superstitions and magic among the jews can also be taken to an extent as reflecting that of the European communities of the period with whom they lived:

A search on "Fragments of Greek Magical Papyrus" might also bring up some stuff of interest.

That in Greek and English by Goodwin for example, which formed the basis for Crowley's Invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel:

"Binding Words: Textual Amulets in the Middle Ages" by Don Skemer.


My first thought was that, since writing about magic and witchcraft, from the point of view of being a witch was likely to get you burned at the stake (literally) in those days, I wouldn't expect many books on the subject.

I tend to agree with Trogon here. People forget that we are now in the 21st century where knowledge is thrown at you every minute and that just 'isn't' historically true. I am sure there may be a book here or there from that time period, but the concept of it being 'published' -NO- that would have happened years or centuries later. Besides, if there was a shelf of grimoires from the 1700s lying around - we'd all have a copy of them!

Magic/witchcraft/whatever is an oral tradition because you did not want proof lying around when the mob came to your door ready to torture you and burn you at the stake!