A Short Introduction to Grimoires

A grimoire can be described as a magic book. Other names, such as ritual blackbook, charm book, or witch codex, are also used. Since the Middle Ages, such manuals have been available throughout Europe. They were used in pagan witchcraft and sorcery. Each adept created his own grimoire.

Grimories are instructions on how to make magical objects such as magic circles and talismans, how to summon angels and demons, and their names and attributes. They also list spells for love and healing, wealth, and other magical practices. Many of these books and manuscripts were believed have magical properties.

Grimoires are apocryphal writings. These writings often attribute authorship to historical figures in order to give the works more authority and meaning.


The word “grimoire” derives from the Old French word grammaire which derives from the Greek “grammatikos” meaning written word. This term was first used in the Middle Ages to refer to all books other than church books that were believed to be books of magic. The term was eventually restricted to works that contained texts of magic or the occult.


The oldest known magical texts have been discovered by archaeological excavations in Egypt, on clay tablets from Ashurbanipal’s Library of Ashurbanipal, dating back to the 7th century BC, as well as records of rituals and invocations originating from Uruk, Sumerian, in the 5th and 4th Centuries BC.

The Jews also had a rich occult tradition. According to biblical tradition, authorship of occult texts has been attributed since antiquity to Jewish patriarchs and prophets such as Enoch (Book of Enoch), Moses (Book of Moses) and Solomon (Clavicula Salomonis, Solomon’s Covenant of the 1st-3rd centuries, etc.)

The influence of Jewish magic was strong in Hellenistic times. It also reached Egypt where it was intertwined. This is evidenced by the Greco-Egyptian magic papyri found in the 19th century in the area of ​​former Hellenistic Egypt. Many occult-magical and hermetic manuscripts of Greek, Egyptian, and Persian origin were kept at the Library of Alexandria during the time of Ptolemy.

Old beliefs that were considered pagan and unsuitable for Christians were suppressed by the recognition of Christianity as the only official religion of the Roman Empire.

Middle Ages

Although the Middle Ages was the birthplace of the first European grimoires, they also reflect an older Hermetic tradition based on ancient Jewish mysticism and Jewish traditions. The Iberian Peninsula saw the emergence of Arabic and Jewish magical books, which led to the spread of esoteric thought across Europe.

The most well-known grimoires of the Middle Ages were:

  • Picatrix (12th century)
  • Sefer Raziel, 13th century
  • Honorius’ Book of Oaths (Liber Juratus), 13th century
  • The Sword of Moses (Harba-de-Mosha), 14th Century
  • Book of Sacred Magic of Abramelin The Mage, 1458
  • Heptameron seu Elementa magica, 1496.

Renaissance and Baroque

Numerous magical manuscripts were created in response to the East’s penetration of neoPlatonist esotericism and the fall of Constantinople (1453). The authorship of these manuscripts is mainly attributed back to King Solomon. During the period of the Inquisition and the witch hunt, many grimoires ended up on the “Index of Forbidden Books” (Index Librorum Prohibitorum).

The following are the most important magical text of the Renaissance or Baroque periods:

  • The Key of King Solomon, 15th Century
  • Occult Philosophy in Three Books, De occulta philosophy libri tres, 1533.
  • Arbatel de magia veterum, 1575.
  • Grand Albert, 16th-century
  • Lemegeton Clavicula Salomonis 17th century

The first printed grimoires were published in 17th century. This made such literature more accessible to a wider audience of educated people.

18th and 19th centuries

Despite science and rationality’s development, Europeans still believed in magic and witchcraft, even after the Enlightenment. Some new magical texts are being created at this time. Most of them pretend to place the time of their origin in the distant future to gain credibility and a sense of mystery.

  • Petit Albert, 18th Century
  • Black chicken, 18th century
  • Grimorium Verum, which was supposedly printed in 1517 but actually dates back to the 18th century, is Grimorium Verum.
  • Enchiridion Leo Papae, 1749.
  • The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses in the 18th or19th Century
  • Grimorium of Pope Honorius, 18th or 19th century
  • Magus, by Francis Barrett, 1801.
  • Grand Grimoire, a title allegedly issued in 1522, was probably not created before the 19th Century.
  • The Book of St. Cyprian claims that 1510 was the year of printing. However the first mention of it is from 1802.

20th century

Some of the most famous grimoires are from this period:

  • Secret Turiel’s grimoire
  • The Golden Dawn, by Crowley’s disciple Israel Regardie
  • Gerald Gardner has created The Book of Shadows, Wiccan Grimoire.
  • Introduction to Magic by Julius Evola, Ur Group

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