Witchcraft and Magick

An illustration of a witches sabbath with the Devil seated in the center from Laurent Bordelon’s satirical work A History of the Ridiculous Extravagancies of Monsieur Oufle, 1710. Similar to Don Quixote, the titular character reads too many books, in this case books on “Magick, the Black-Art, Daemoniacks, Conjurers, Witches etc”, and it rots his brain, causing him to have fantastic delusions. Image: University of Glasgow Library. Full French text: archive.org


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A glamour is a spell cast by faeries, witches, sorcerers, and deities to make people or things appear more attractive. It can give the appearance of youth, beauty, turn rags into luxurious clothing, and make worthless objects appear to be treasures.

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Diagram of magickal instruments described in Trithemius’ Book of Secrets: a magic circle, crystal, the Holy Table of Arch Angel Michael, incense/herb burner, magic wand, and candles. From The Book of the Magi, Francis Barrett, 1896. Source: Wellcome Library


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Abracadabra isn’t just something hokey magicians say at kid’s birthday parties. It’s a genuine incantation to ward off malaria and other ailments, and was used in protection talismans. The origins of the word are theorized to be Hebrew or the magic word abraxas.

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Drawing representing balance between masculine and feminine in a chapter about equilibrium from “Le serpent de la Genèse” (The Serpent of Genesis) Volume 2, by Stanislas de Guaita, 1920. Source: Embassy of the Free Mind


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Depiction of a sorcerer’s lair from the chapter entitled “Inventory of the Sorcerer’s Arsenal” in the book “Le serpent de la Genèse” (The Serpent of Genesis) Volume 1, by Stanislas de Guaita, 1920. Source: Embassy of the Free Mind


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This Ritual Mask, currently housed in Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Cornwall, belonged to Alex Sanders, also known as Verbius, who was an English occultist and High Priest in the Pagan religion of Wicca.

During his black magic period, he got a job at the John Rylands Library in Manchester. An accusation that he defecated in the library basement led to the discovery that stole pages from a 19th century edition of the S.L Mathers translation of the ‘Key of Solomon’. Image: Ethan Doyle White CC-BY-SA

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Seals and characters for summoning the greater demons Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Astaroth. In order of effectiveness, the symbols must be drawn in either: the sorcerer’s blood, the blood of a sea turtle, or engraved on emerald or ruby. From Grimorium Verum (16th Century) and The Grand Grimore (18th Century). Source: “The book of black magic and of pacts”, A.E. Waite, Embassy of the Free Mind


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The Goetic Circle of Black Evocations and Pacts, to summon Satan for a deal. The circle is formed from human skin, fastened by nails from a coffin of an executed criminal. A parricide’s skull, goat horns, a bat drowned in blood, and the head of a black cat who was fed human flesh must be placed around it. From The Book of Black Magic and Pacts, A.E. Waite, 1910. Source: Embassy of the Free Mind


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The Mystic Figures of the Enchiridion are symbols, meant to be used along with incantations and prayers, to perform transcendental magic. Most have religious symbolism and are used for spells to protect from secret enemies, wild beasts, poisoning, and bad weather, among other things. From The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts, A.E. Waite, 1910. Source: archive.org


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Alchemist and Magician Edward Kelly, in the act of invoking a spirit of the dead at the churchyard of Walton Ledale, from “The book of black magic and of pacts” by A.E. Waite, 1898. The companion in the circle is likely Paul Waring, who helped him with all of his conjurations. Source: Embassy of the Free Mind


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A witch at her cauldron, standing in a magic circle, surrounded by demons. A grimoire (book of magick spells) can be seen in the right corner, and a goat, representing the Devil, can be seen behind her. Etching by Jan van de Velde II, 1626. Source: Wellcome Library

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