Top 10 Most Significant Historical Grimoire

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Note:  TopTenz.net and its owner does not endorse the practice of witchcraft or sorcery, and we are pretty glad it’s hard to get your hands on these books, because we want y’alls souls to stay sparkly clean.  “Let no one be found among you who makes his son or daughter pass through fire, no… an augur or soothsayer or diviner or sorcerer, none who cast spells or traffics with ghosts and spirits, and no necromancer.” Deuteronomy 18:10-11 *so endeth the note.

The term “grimoire” originated from the Old French word “grammaire” which meant “grammar” and was used to refer to all books that were written in Latin.  However, by the 18th century, the term had taken on a new meaning: medieval European magic textbooks.  Grimoire were collections of spells, instructions on how to create magical objects, and guides to summoning demons, angels, and spirits.  They frequently contained astrological dioramas, lists of mystic entities, and even instructions for mixing medicines.  While in modern society the term “grimoire” has come to encompass any kind of collection of magic, authentic grimoire were based off the magical traditions of Jewish, Muslim, and medieval Christian rituals and texts.  Therefore, authentic grimoire didn’t usually contain Pagan rituals or magic.  I have collected a list of ten of the most influential and historically significant grimoire throughout history.  My goal was to present them in chronological order.  However, because many grimoire don’t have definite publishing dates, I have had to take liberties in arranging them.  Also, many grimoire had multiple names.  For each entry I have tried to include their most important ones.

 10. Sepher Ha-Razim/The Book of Secrets/The Book of Amulets (3rd Century)

Sepher Ha-Razim

The Kabbalistic tradition says that the Sepher Ha-Razim was given to Noah by the archangel Raziel and then passed down to King Solomon, one of the major figures of the Old Testament for his wealth, wisdom, and magical power.  This text predates other major Kabbalistic texts such as the Zohar and the Bahir.  It is split into seven sections, not including a preface, which mirror the seven days of creation and the seven heavens.  Each section contains a list of angels and spells that can be performed.  These spells are of a wide variety. They can be used to heal, attack foes, predict the future, and bring good fortune.  The incantations take many forms: repetition, reversed language, and foreign words and names.  These spells also make use of ritual objects and animal sacrifices.

 9. The Picatrix/Ghâyat al-Hakîm fi’l-sihr/The Aim of the Sage/The Goal of the Wise (10-11th century)

The Goal Of The Wise Vol

The Picatrix is widely believed to be a book of early Arabic magic.  Originally written in Arabic, the Picatrix was one of the first and most important texts written about astrological magic.  It also holds the distinction of being one of the largest grimoire in history.  Although it is impossible to confirm who actually originally wrote it, it is frequently contributed to Andalusian mathematician Ahmad Al-Majriti.  It was translated into Latin in 1256 and went on to become extremely influential on Western magic, being used even by Renaissance mages like Cornelius Agrippa and Marsilio Ficino.  It contained spells that ranged from “how to destroy a city with the Ray of Silence” to “how to influence men from a distance.”  The text also had a list of magic images and detailed their uses.  Frequently this would take the form of engraving the images of stars on specific objects.

 8. Liber Juratus/The Sworn Book of Honorius (13th century)

The Sworn Book of Honorius

The Liber Juratus claims to be the product of a conference of magicians who wanted to consolidate all of their knowledge into one text in order to save them from persecution be Church officials.  At the time, the Church was trying to destroy all books of magic.  In fact, one of the reasons why authentic grimoire are so rare was because the Church was so efficient at discovering and burning them.  The text is presented as a conversation with the angel Hochmel.  The word “Hochmel” is a version of the Hebrew work “Chockmah” (wisdom).  The book spans 93 chapters and a wide array of subjects, such as how to conjure and control demons, how to discover treasure, and how to save one’s soul from purgatory.  One of the major features of the Liber Juratus is its methods for gaining the “Beatific Vision” where one receives a vision of the Face of God.

 7. Sefer Raziel Ha-Malakh Liber Razielis Archangeli/Book of Raziel the Angel (13th century)

Sefer Raziel Ha-Malakh Liber Razielis Archangeli

The Sefer Raziel Ha-Malakh Liber Razielis Archangeli is considered to be one of the definite and most important books on Jewish magic.  It is supposed to hold all of the knowledge of the Universe.  This particular grimoire was partially based off the aforementioned Sepher Ha-Razim.  Both were bestowed upon prominent biblical figures by the archangel Raziel.  However, whereas the Sepher Ha-Razim was revealed to Noah, this was revealed to Adam.  Supposedly, after being forced to leave the Garden of Eden with Eve, he prayed to God for guidance.  God then sent Raziel to teach him the ways of nature through this text.  It covers topics such as angelology, the zodiac, gematria (a system of assigning numerical values to words and phrases), protective spells, and talismans.  It also includes a list of the various names of God.  This text became especially prominent in German Renaissance magic along with the Picatrix.

 6. The Key of Solomon/Clavis Salomonis/Mafteah Shelomoh (14th-15th Century)

The Key of Solomon

The Key of Solomon is one of the most famous, important, and influential grimoires of all time.  While it claims to have originated with King Solomon, it dates back to the 14th or 15th century Italian Renaissance.  It inspired many other grimoires such as The Lesser Key of Solomon.  The incantations and spells contained within were considerably powerful.  Before they could be performed the practitioner needed to confess his sins and be purged of evil, thereby invoking the protection of God.  The text includes instructions for conjurations, invocations and curses to summon and control spirits of the dead and demons.  In addition, it details all of the different purification rituals, special outfits, and mystical instruments that need to be used during said practices.

 5. The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage (1450s)

The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage

The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage was originally a collection of magical and Kabbalistic secrets.  However, it gained particular popularity when it was later adopted by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (a magical order in Great Britain during the late 19th and early 20th century) and the religion of Thelema (developed in the early 20th century by Aleister Crowley).  The text itself is a kind of epistolary novel wherein Abraham of Worms describes his journey from Germany to Egypt along with Abra-Melin’s secrets to his son Lamech.  According to the text, Abraham met the powerful Egyptian mage Abra-Melin who taught him Kabbalistic magic.  The text contains a complex and elaborate ritual for contacting one’s guardian angel and receiving magical secrets from him.  In all, the ritual takes eighteen months.  There are several other spells and magics contained within: the casting of love charms, flight, invisibility, and the ability to discover buried treasure.

 4. Heptameron (‘Seven Days’) of Peter de Abano (1496)

Heptameron

The Heptameron of Peter de Abano was written by noted Italian philosopher and astrologer Pietro de Abano who died in prison during the Inquisition on claims of heresy and atheism.  He lived from 1250-1316, but his Heptameron wasn’t published until the late 1400s.  The text is a manual of planetary magic.  It details the rites for summoning angels for each of the seven days of the week.  It also contains instructions for the creation of magic circles, the consecrations of salt, water, and incense, and planetary hours.  This grimoire was especially important as it influenced the Lemegeton, a famous 17th century book on demonology.

 3. The Munich Handbook/The Munich Necromantic Handbook/Munich Manual of Demonic Magic/The Necromancer’s Manual (15th century)

The Munich Handbook

The Munich Handbook is an unusual grimoire in that it focuses on demonic magic and necromancy.  It almost completely glosses over angels and the rituals for summoning them.  Interestingly, it is believed by experts to having been written by none other than a member of the clergy.  Many of its spells include the sacrificing of mythological and folkloric creatures and animals.  For instance, one spell for creating an imaginary banquet involves the sacrifice of a hoopoe (a colorful bird found throughout Afro-Eurasia).  The book is also important for more than its magical contents.  It is a window into how the clergy and learned Christians viewed and practiced magic during the Middle Ages.

 2. Grand Grimoire/The Red Dragon (1522?)

Grand Grimoire or The Red Dragon

The Grand Grimoire is a book of black magic that claims to have been written in 1522, but may have originated after the 18th century.  It is considered to be the most evil and dangerous grimoire in existence.  The text has a sinister purpose: the summoning of Lucifer or Lucifuge Rofocale (the demon in charge of the government of Hell) in order to make a Deal with the Devil.  It also contains a hierarchy of infernal spirits.  But in addition to the summoning of demons, it contains a large number of spells, formulas, and secrets.  These include spells to make people dance completely naked and invisibility.  But be warned!  The Grand Grimoire is considered to be so atrocious that even experienced magicians and practitioners of the occult warn against it.

 1. Libri Tres de Occulta Philosophia by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa/ Three Books of Occult Philosophy (1531)

Libri Tres de Occulta Philosophia

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The Three Books of Occult Philosophy was written by famous German magician, astrologer, and alchemist Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa.  The books dealt with Elemental, Celestial, and Intellectual magic.  These three kinds of magic are subdivided into many other different disciplines that include the four elements, astrology, Kabbalhaism, numerology, angelology, scrying, and alchemy.  The three books were landmarks in discussing magic in scholarly and intellectual terms.  They also contain a large amount of pagan and Neoplatonic magic.  It is also a source of great curiosity as it makes references and provides extracts on magic from obscure and/or lost works from famous historical figures such as Pythagoras, Ptolemy, Plato, and Aristotle.  Even by modern standards, they are considered to be the authoritative texts on magic by occultists.

 


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32 Comments

  1. i didn’t see any of the harry potter books listed..what gives???..lol…relax people..i’m screwing with you

    • Conservatives are so un-original. A child could have foreseen a comment like yours. All of you are so consistent in your utter absurdity. That’s what you come up with? Grow up.

        • I have a Ph.D. in 20th century US political history. I think I know what i’m talking about.

          Bitter and hateful? Are you serious? Have you read or listened to what conservatives say about Obama? Veiled threats of coups and violence? I have never heard such hateful rhetoric as i have in the last few years, and it’s all from your side. You people are pathetic, self-centered children. The entire point of modern conservatism is to turn greed into a virtue. That is sad. Absolutely pathetic, the lot of you. You wouldn’t know reasoned discourse it if slapped you in the face, so steeped in absurdity, propaganda, hatred, and fear as you are.

          By the way – did you know that Fox “News” won a lawsuit in Florida in 2003 with the legal defense that they have no obligation to tell the truth? You can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Akre.

        • First – I don’t care what you have a degree in. A PhD just means you have more fries to sell at Burger King.

          Second – why does a degree in 20th Century Political History give you license to unleash your bile on a guy who posted an obvious joke?

          Third – wow. You found conspiracy theory stuff on Google! Did it take your degree to use that?

          Fourth – if you think the “entire point of modern conservatism is to turn greed into a virtue”, then what do you call it when your side wants to take that money for its own means and purposes? “You earned that money, and therefore it belongs to ME ME ME ME ME ME ME!!!”

          Fifth – bitter and hateful? Check your own reply for proof, Mike.

          Thank you for this opportunity to clean a PhD’s clock. Usually I only get to do it to JD’s.

        • im sorry, for being an educated man you are surely blinded by the simplest of schemes… you really think your side is so great that it has not one time done anything that the other “side” has done??

          republicans and democrats are both idiots trapped in an eternal battle against each other wher you guys are being used like pawns… obviously your attempt at an educated failed mike if you couldnt even break through the conditioning that your “team” is somehow the better of the two…

        • I am an educated woman Also working on a phD. I don’t come to sites such as these (we’re talking spiritual, right?) to discuss my OPINION on politics. What does that have to do with Magick? (which by the way is what I was searching for), only to come upon someone, obviously first-year, raving and ranting about how smart he is. Pul-ease! save it for debate class.

          Yeesh. Some people start to get smarter, and then think they know everything. The smartest people know, they know NOTHING! So chill out and open your mind. I promise you will be smarter in your next rendition of “the truth”.

          🙂

        • Can’t reply directly to your last, so here it is:

          Haha! Just like George W. Bush, you declare victory even though you’ve lost (“mission accomplished”?) and take your ball and go home. Of course, you entered the arena of intellectual combat unarmed, like all conservatives, because you all live in a fantasy land that never existed. Taxes are necessary for any society to function; how do you not understand that? How is “starve the beast” different from anarchism? The elimination of government authority is anarchy. That’s what Republicans want? Are you insane?

          Ask yourself: why are nations such as Germany and Canada weathering this storm far better than we are? Look it up on “the google.”

          Ask yourself: when was the US at its best? The 1950s, when the top tax rate was 90%, we had a strong labor movement, and a rational Republican president. Look it up on “the google” and stop pretending you understand what you are talking about.

          You must understand the bitterness and hatefulness of comments directed at the President, yes? You do read English, yes?

          A court case is not an internet rumor. Look it up. Or don’t you know how to use “the google”? Read about it; you wouldn’t be the only one who was surprised — even I was, and I never fell for R. Murdoch’s nonsense.

          You make me laugh. Declaring victory without hitting the target. You truly are a Republican.

        • >> Can’t reply directly to your last,.

          There’s a reason for that.

          >> Haha! Just like George W. Bush

          You want proof of liberal hate? See the above.

          >> Taxes are necessary for any society to function; how do you not understand that?

          I do understand that. You mistake me for a libertarian. The problem is that you don’t want a functional society – you want an enslaved society.

          >> why are nations such as Germany and Canada weathering this storm far better than we are?

          Because we’re bigger, we risk more, and the last 2 Presidents have been economic failures.

          >> when was the US at its best?

          The 1980’s – Middle / Late 90’s.

          >> You must understand the bitterness and hatefulness of comments directed at the President, yes? You do read English, yes?

          Yes. I do. http://tinyurl.com/6ds3wcp

          >> A court case is not an internet rumor. Look it up.

          I’m actually familiar with the court case. I’m also familiar with the conspiracy theorizing around it and the hate that liberals have for Fox News (which, interestingly, doesn’t exist for CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS, or any of the innumerable left-leaning news sources).

          >> You make me laugh. Declaring victory without hitting the target. You truly are a Republican.

          Yes I am. And I’m guessing you’re unemployed.

        • I’ve been employed since I was 14. I work three jobs, and commute 2 hours every day to do so. I’ve never dodged my taxes, I’ve never taken money from the government.

          to suggest that taxes in and of themselves lead to an “enslaved” society is absurd.

          You are statistically incorrect about the 80s — and Reagan’s* policies put us on the path to ruin. And of course, part of the “boom” of the 80s was — what? You guessed it! Government defense spending! Government spending is largely the cause of that fake “boom”! The elimination of regulations freed things up for a few years, but led to the end of most major airlines and the collapse of the savings and loan industry. How are either of those helpful, ultimately? The reason we have come to ruin, thanks in large part to Republican policies, is the LACK of regulation in the last 15 years! Most economists agree on this. Government oversight is necessary to preserve stability, and requires tax revenue to function.

          The major issue is the repeal of the Glass-Steagal (and other Depression-era legislation) which was designed to prevent exactly the circumstance we find ourselves in now. Again, the lack of regulation is what allowed Wall Street to engineer the largest transfer of wealth to the wealthiest among us. How does this help you? Read Paul Krugman for an education.

          George W. Bush was, according to most historians, the worst president in our history (or at least since Harding). He deserves all the bile anyone chooses to throw on him for using the 9/11 attacks to extend our imperial overreach and bring us to ruin. How do you not see that?

          *(GHW Bush was a better president that he is given credit for, I think.)

    • As the owner of this site, I have never hidden the fact I am a Christian (see my many comments). If that offends you to the point you can’t read this site…have a good life surfing elsewhere, you are always welcome back, of course.

      • While I don’t quite echo Jordy’s feelings, I was a bit miffed by the editorial note. While you may be a christian, many are not, and many people practice witchcraft/wicca as a religion. I think it may be slightly disrespectful to them for you to essentially say that you hope people don’t follow their beliefs, and then quote a Bible verse. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but I think that this may have gone a bit far. I only say this because I honestly think it could have been hurtful to some people, although I’m sure this was never your intention. There is nothing wrong with anybody expressing their faith, and a forum where people are able to do so freely is a wonderful thing. But there is a difference between expressing one’s faith and denouncing the faiths of others. I think you may have inadvertently stepped a little close to that line.

        No disrespect meant. Of course, it’s your site so you can say what you want and we’re all free to say what we please in any walk of life but, as you know, actions prompt reactions. We’re all free to tell our bosses exactly what we think of them on a Monday morning. They are also free to make sure we don’t come back Tuesday if they wish 🙂

        That’s me done, anyway. I love the site. Keep up the good work. Peace x

  2. TopTenzMaster,
    I’m with you. I joke around a little but I too am a Christian. It appears we are a minority these days, especially on the internet, but that’s fine with me.

  3. Hi, I’ m a muslim but I was not by any means offended by that paragraph. If anything, it created the perfect introduction to the article.

    I think that these days, people have fallen in the other extreme and, in their try to be respectful towards another person’s belief we are transforming religion into taboo.

    Relax,TopTenz readers, a paragraph from the Bible will not burn anybody’s eyes and it is perfectly appropiate in the context. Great job and wonderful article!

    Please excuse my spelling mistakes (if any) because English is not my native language.

  4. The internationally known rock music group RUSH released and album in 1975 called “Caress Of Steel” which contained a song of 12-14 minutes called “The Necromancer” maybe you should listen to it and read the lyrics on the inner sleeve and give you a modern interpretation of what “Grimoire” really means

  5. I just think that your note was unnecessary. Writing about something doesn’t mean endorsement, and I assume that most people would read it with that understanding.

    • Hi, Mike. As a Christian I felt it was important to let people know we do not support these books, but just put them this list up as an interesting read. I would never want to be the reason that lead someone down a path I feel would be dangerous for their eternal soul. In fact, I debated even posting this list for that very reason.

  6. Hold on a second.

    So people who practice Wicca or other neopagan religions are going to hell for witchcraft? And you felt the need to let us know that you believe this?

    OK, you can believe whatever you want and run your website the way you like, but I’m letting you know that I won’t be revisiting a site that endorses bigotry and intolerance.

    Look to your own soul before you judge others, buddy.

    • I don’t judge anyone. God alone is the judge of us all. That is what I believe. I also believe the Bible is God’s Law and it should be followed. So, yes, if you practice witchcraft you will be judged by God and it looks like that judgement won’t be good. Not my words, but God’s words. If you choose not to believe or follow Him that is your choice, of course. I wouldn’t make that choice lightly though and I don’t take what I write or say lightly either. If I believe the type of behavior that these books support could be damaging to you soul, it is my God-given responsibility to tell you, so I don’t lead you down a path I feel is wrong. I considered killing this list altogether because of my beliefs. Instead I published it, but I needed to put the editor’s note so my opinion and this site’s opinion was and is clearly understood. I do not apologize for that or for my beliefs. I am sorry that you will not be visiting the site again, but if you do you will always be welcome.

    • Well Lauren, what are you so strung out about ? perhaps you are a bigot as you don’t allow Christians to express their beliefs but feel you are o.k to divulge yours and call anyone who disagrees with you a bigot ?. Your argument is laughable and childlike in its observations. Goodbye and good luck in the real world where other people have different faiths and opinions. .o ooh scary isn`t it. Please grow up.

  7. As someone who has a purely academic interest in grimoires and magical texts, and as a writer who finds this kind of stuff invaluable research for her fantasy fiction, this was a wonderful read. Thank you for posting the lists–I’m going to see if I can find these books regardless, not because I practice magic but because, again–valuable research for my fiction.

    I would also like to add that while I don’t mind your disclaimer at the beginning, I did feel that the part where you stated “pretty glad it’s hard to get your hands on these books because we want y’alls souls to stay sparkly clean” was unnecessary. It would have been enough to say “we do not endorse witchcraft or sorcery.” This is from both a writing and a personal point–I am an atheist with a purely academic and research-oriented interest in grimoires, so I’m not really in fear of my soul being “clean,” and just stating that you don’t advocate witchcraft would have been enough.

    At any rate, I have no qualms with you if you’re a Christian–it’s just something to keep in mind in the future. Again, thank you for an informative column!

  8. I’d like to point out this part of the article:

    “While in modern society the term “grimoire” has come to encompass any kind of collection of magic, authentic grimoire were based off the magical traditions of Jewish, Muslim, and medieval Christian rituals and texts. Therefore, authentic grimoire didn’t usually contain Pagan rituals or magic.”

  9. To the owner of this website: I think its really amazing how you wrote the introduction… and explained all of the contents of this list. in the current times, a lot of people who identify with one faith or another are hush-hush about this thing so I wanted to say that your candid-ness about this topic is refreshing. also I thoroughly enjoy the majority of your lists. just thought that it’d be cool to express my thanks.

    • Shell Harris on

      Thanks for the thanks, Karou. I try to make the site a good source of interesting knowledge without be too restrictive based on my personal beliefs.

  10. Aurora Black on

    Seriously?! Keeping our souls sparkly and clean?! As a witch i take offense to that….i know for a fact y’all aint perfect…so i know y’alls souls aint “sparkly and clean” get over yourselves….and theres nothing wrong with ANY kind of magic!

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