“Magic is a faculty of wonderful virtue, full of most high mysteries, containing the most profound contemplation of most secret things, together with the nature, power, quality, substance and virtues thereof, as also the knowledge of whole Nature, and it doth instruct us concerning the differing and agreement of things amongst themselves, whence it produceth its wonderful effects, by uniting the virtues of things through the application of them one to the other.”
– Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
A comprehensive list of books on ritual magic.
Below is a list of some of the best and most important books written on ritual magic. Together they cover the history of magic in the Western world and how to practice it. In addition, I have added a handful of other key texts that expand the scope of this list to include magic as it is practiced around the entire world. The objective is to show readers the common substructure for how magic is practiced across cultures and over time.
This is not a list of textbooks of magic (or grimoires) although i have included a few of the most influential books to provide a sample of the books used by magicians to practice the art. The books are in no particular order. I have labeled them PRACTICAL, THEORETICAL or HISTORICAL to differentiate between practical instruction manuals, philosophical tomes, and historical books:
Magic: A History of Its Rites, Rituals, and Mysteries
by Éliphas Lévi
“The most arresting, entertaining, and brilliant of all studies on the subject.” — Arthur Edward Waite. A great work of literature as well as a pioneering classic of occultism, this voluminous historical survey traces the roots and manifestations of magic through the ages as a secret tradition persisting from remote times.
Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts
by Donald Michael Kraig
Written with respect for the student, Modern Magick will safely guide you―even if you know little or nothing―through a progressive series of practical exercises and rituals, complemented by the knowledge, history, insights, and theory you need to become a successful ceremonial magician.
Techniques of High Magic: A Manual of Self-Initiation
by Stephen Skinner & Francis King
Self-initiation into practical magic with clear instructions on how to perform invocation and evocations, achieve astral projection, make effective talismans, or practice divination using either geomancy, tarot or I Ching. Useful for a complete beginner or those further along the path.
Grimoires: A History of Magic Books
by Owen Davies
No books have been more feared than grimoires, and no books have been more valued and revered. In Grimoires: A History of Magic Books, Owen Davies illuminates the many fascinating forms these recondite books have taken and exactly what these books held.
HISTORICAL / PRACTICAL
The Book of Ceremonial Magic: Including the Rites and Mysteries of Goetic Theurgy, Sorcery, and Infernal Necromancy
by Arthur Edward Waite
An attempt to synthesize the procedures of all of the famous Grimoires. It draws on the “Key of Solomon”, the “Grimorium Verum”, the apocryphal Fourth Book of Cornelius Agrippa, and many others, including the famous “Black Pullet”, or “Poulet Noir”. The result is an unparalleled look at the details of ceremonial magic.
PRACTICAL / THEORETICAL
Three Books of Occult Philosophy
by Henry Cornelius Agrippa
The Three Books of Occult Philosophy is the most complete repository of pagan and Neoplatonic magic ever compiled. This book is packed with material you will not find elsewhere, including copious extracts on magic from obscure or lost works by Pythagoras, Ptolemy, Plato, Aristotle, and many others.
by Gershom Scholem
Scholarship and rigor mark this magnum opus by the esteemed Gershom Scholem, who laid the groundwork for a respectable study of the field. He opens with a large overview in which he explains the Zohar, or Book of Splendor, and its influence. He follows with articles on various topics in Jewish mysticism, and then includes articles on key personalities.
THEORETICAL / PRACTICAL
Qabalah, Qliphoth and Goetic Magic
by Thomas Karlsson
Qabalah, Qliphoth and Goetic Magic is a unique practical introduction to magic. The main thread of the book is the exploration of the Qliphoth and the dark mysteries which have for so long been a repressed part of western esotericism.
The Book of Enoch
by R. H. Charles (translator)
“The Book of Enoch” is one of the most notable extant apocryphal works of the Bible. Estimated to have been written around 300 BC, this ancient Jewish religious work is ascribed by tradition to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. Consisting of five distinct sections, the book begins with the fall of the Watchers, angels who fathered the Nephilim, the offspring of “sons of god” and the “daughters of men.”
The Testament Of Solomon
by King Solomon
The Testament of Solomon has stood the test of time and remained one of the seminole occult works of antiquity. It dates to between the first and fifth centuries. It describes a host of demons encountered by King Solomon during his time spent enslaving the same, for the purposes of the building of the temple at Jerusalem.
The Complete Magician’s Tables
by Stephen Skinner
Anyone practicing magic won’t want to miss this comprehensive book of magician’s correspondences. Featuring four times more tables than Aleister Crowley’s Liber 777, this is the most complete collection of magician’s tables available.
A body of mystical texts written in late antiquity, but believed during the Renaissance to be much older. Supposed written by the mythical figure named Hermes Trismegistus. The Hermetic philosophy was regarded as an ancient theology, parallel to the revealed wisdom of the Bible.
The practice of magical evocation: Instructions for invoking spirit beings from the spheres surrounding us
by Franz Bardon
Whosoever wishes to learn the subject of magic, must first learn all the effects of the lower laws of Nature before he can progress to the higher laws. This book gives the reader the significance of the magic circle, triangle, the magic mirror, the magic wand, and so forth.
HISTORICAL / PRACTICAL
Techniques of Solomonic Magic
by Stephen Skinner
The most detailed analysis of the techniques of Solomonic magic from the seventh to the nineteenth century ever published. This volume explores the methods of Solomonic magic in Alexandria, tracing how the tradition passed through Byzantium (the Hygromanteia) to the Latin Clavicula Salomonis and its English incarnation as the Key of Solomon.
HISTORICAL / PRACTICAL
Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic
by Stephen Skinner
Egypt was once at the heart of magical practice, and the Graeco-Egyptian papyri are the clearest and most extensive documentation of some of these earliest methods. The author has translated and presented the information contained in the papyri so that the magic will transcend theory and become a real practice.
The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses
by Joseph Peterson (Editor)
The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, arguably one of the most popular magick books ever published, contains two secret apocrypha ascribed to Moses, perhaps pseudepigraphically. The book consists of a collection of texts, which claim to explain the magick Moses.
The Works of Dionysius the Areopagite
by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite
Early 6th century writings of a mystical nature, employing Neoplatonic language to elucidate Christian theological and mystical ideas. They are pseudepigrapha, and their author is referred to as “Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite”. These texts were fundamental to the development of angel magic.
Forbidden Rites (A Necromancer’s Manual of the Fifteenth Century)
by Richard Kieckhefer
Forbidden Rites consists of an edition of a medieval Latin manuscript, Munich Clm 849, with a full commentary, including detailed analysis of the text and its contents, discussion of the historical context, translation of representative sections of the text, and comparison with other necromantic texts of the late Middle Ages.
Michael Psellus on the Operation of Daemons: De Operatione Daemonum
Michael Psellus, Stephen Skinner (translater)
Michael Psellus (1018 – 1178 C.E) forms the bridge between the ancient classical view of the daemon as a beneficial guiding spiritual presence and the later Christian view of demons as intrinsically evil. His writing helps to explain both of these aspects, and the evolution from one to the other. A critical read in understanding the roles of daemons and devils.
Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual
by Eliphas Levi
This is Levi’s first treatise on magic and was translated into English by Arthur Edward Waite as “Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual”. It was largely through the occultists inspired by him that Lévi is remembered as one of the key founders of the twentieth century revival of magic.
The Key of Solomon the King: Clavicula Salomonis
by S. L. Macgregor Mathers (Author), Joseph Peterson (Foreword)
A magical grimoire of sigils and rituals for summoning and mastering spirits, The Key of Solomon the King is the most famous, or infamous, of all magick books. It has influenced everything from the revival of magick and the Western Mystery Traditions (tarot, alchemy, astrology, etc.) to fictional works such as Lovecraft’s The Necronomicon.
The Eastern World
Sby Rain Al-Alim
A compilation of jinn conjurations and rituals translated from rare Arabic manuscripts. The main body of the work comprises translations into English of numerous rituals and operations selected from manuscripts, primarily from Egypt and Morocco, in the author’s collection.
Magic That Works: Practical Training for the Children of Light
by Frances Harrison and Nineveh Shadrach
Magic That Works presents practical magic techniques based on sources more than a thousand years old. In addition to being one of the best practical manuals, it is one of the few books in English that explain the techniques of the old Arabic grimoires.
Tai Magic: Arts of the Supernatural
by Susan Conway
Within the context of Thai cosmology and numerology, Therevada Buddhism and spirit religion, this lavishly illustrated book examines how good and bad spirits are formulated to bring good luck and protection or to cause bad luck.
PRACTICAL / HISTORICAL
Futhark: A Handbook of Rune Magic
by Edred Thorsson
Futhark covers both the spiritual heritage of ancient runic lore and the practical steps we can take to draw on rune power. It includes rune history and lore, its basis in metaphysical thought and mysticism, complete definitions of the twenty-four runes of the Elder Futhark, and the etymology, phonetic value, and interpretation of each rune.
THEORETICAL / HISTORICAL
The Tao of Craft: Fu Talismans and Casting Sigils in the Eastern Esoteric Tradition
by Benebell Wen
For the first time in English, Benebell Wen reveals the rich history and theoretical principles underlying the ancient practice of crafting Fu talismans, or magical sigils, in the Chinese Taoist tradition and gives detailed instructions for modern practitioners who would like to craft their own Fu
The Batak: Peoples of the Island of Sumatra (Living With Ancestors)
by Achim Sibeth
A comprehensive anthropological history of the Batak several groups with distinct, albeit related, languages and customs ethnic groups from the highlands of North Sumatra, Indonesia. It includes history of the Pustaha, the magic book of the Toba Batak people which contains magical formulas, divinations, recipes, and laws written and compiled by a Batak magician-priest (datu).
Palo Mayombe Spirits – Rituals – Spells Palo Mayombe – Palo Monte – Kimbisa
by Carlos Antonio De Bourbon-Galdiano-Montenegro
Explore the authentic mysteries of the Afro-Caribbean religious traditions of Palo Mayombe, Palo Monte and Kimbisa in a very revealing book which includes the Congo religious history, Congo Spirits, Initiations, Spells & Rituals, Invocations, Prayers and Sacred spirit signatures of the Congo Spirits.