Written and compiled by George Knowles
Francis Barrett is one of those authors about whom precious little is known, we would guess from what little is known, that he was born in London sometime between 1770 and 1780. As the author, or more correctly ‘the compiler’ of a single book: "The Magus" (Lackington, Allen and Co, Temple of the Muses, Finsbury Square, 1801), Barrett’s efforts to revive interest in the mysteries of magic and the occult, has influenced many for over two centuries. A classic best selling book, ‘The Magus’ today, still takes pride of place on the bookshelves of occultists and ceremonial magicians worldwide.
Francis Barrett, F.R.C. bills himself as a Professor of Chemistry, natural and occult Philosophy, and the Cabbala, etc., etc. That he was a learned man is beyond question, but where he acquired his knowledge and qualification is not known, for records of his education in the colleges and universities of England, have yet to be found. What is known is that he lived, advertised and gave lessons from an address in Marylebone, London, where he clearly spent long hours meticulously pouring over and translating Cabbalistic and ancient texts on occult lore, much of which had never before been translated into English. He also appears to have been a keen enthusiast of flight, and during the early pioneering days of Hot Air Balloons, attempted several ill-fated balloon ascents in the Summer and Autumn of 1802.
Montague Summers that eminent scholar and author who wrote extensively about the darker sides of witchcraft and the occult, demonology, vampirism and lycanthropy, has much to say about Francis Barrett and The Magus. In his own book ‘Witchcraft and Black Magic’ (London; New York: Rider, 1946), he describes The Magus as: “Among the most interesting and most valuable books of English occult lore”. He then goes on to describe Barrett’s teachings:
“In addition to the explanations and directions contained in The Magus, it appears from the following ‘Advertisement’ that Barrett gave oral instructions and conducted practical occult experiments, in fact that he trained serious inquirers into these esoteric arts and seekers after mystical knowledge:
“The Author of this Work respectfully informs those that are curious in the studies of Art and Nature, especially of Natural and Occult Philosophy, Chemistry, Astrology, etc., etc., that, having been indefatigable in his researches in those sublime Sciences; of which he has treated at large in this book, that he gives private instructions and lectures upon any of the above-mentioned Sciences; in the course of which he will discover many curious and rare experiments.
Those who become Students will be initiated into the choicest operations of Natural Philosophy, Natural Magic, the Cabbala, Chemistry, the Talismanic Arts, Hermetic Philosophy, Astrology, Physiognomy, etc., etc. Likewise they will acquire the knowledge of the Rites, Mysteries, Ceremonies and Principles of the ancient Philosophers, Magi, Cabbalists, and Adepts, etc.
The Purpose of this school (which will consist of no greater number than Twelve Students) being to investigate the hidden treasures of Nature; to bring the Mind to a contemplation of the Eternal Wisdom; to promote the discovery of whatever may conduce to the perfection of Man; the alleviating the miseries and calamities of this life, both in respect of ourselves and others; the study of morality and religion here, in order to secure to ourselves felicity hereafter; and, finally, the promulgation of whatever may conduce to the general happiness and welfare of mankind.
Those who feel themselves thoroughly disposed to enter upon such a course of studies, as above recited, with the same principles of philanthropy with the Author invites the lovers of philosophy and wisdom, to incorporate themselves in so select, permanent and desirable a society, may speak with the Author upon the subject, at any time between the hours of Eleven and Two o’clock, at: 99 Norton Street, Mary-le-Bone. Letters (post paid) upon any subject treated of in this Book, will be duly answered, with the necessary information”.
It is interesting here to note that Barrett is restricting his students to a class of Twelve, with himself as teacher/leader making Thirteen, the classic number of a witches coven.
Montague Summers then goes on to elucidate on his own research and findings regarding the elusive Francis Barrett:
“I have been told that Francis Barrett actually founded a small sodality of students of these dark and deep mysteries, and that under his tuition, for he was profoundly learned in these things, some advanced far upon the path of transcendental wisdom. One at least was a Cambridge man, of what status, whether an undergraduate or Fellow of a College, I do not know, but there is reason to believe that he initiated others, and until quite recent years, it perhaps persists even to today. The Barrett tradition was maintained at Cambridge, but very privately, and his teachings have been handed on to promising subjects. At any rate, I have myself been shown and examined cabbalistic manuscripts written by Francis Barrett, and certain secret matters which he did not think proper to entrust to the publicity of print".
Summers then goes onto a long and detailed explanation of the merits and worth of The Magus, which he ends with:
“Not the least remarkable thing about this remarkable book The Magus, is that it clearly proves how at the beginning of the nineteenth century esoteric traditions were preserved, ceremonial magic was practiced, and the secrets of cabbalistic lore were eagerly studied”.
That Barrett did manage to form some sort of Academy of
Magic in the London is now beyond question as a number of his students have come
to light. One was John
Parkins, a practicing magician and cunning man in Lincolnshire, England during
the early 19th century. In a 1802
manuscript entitled: ‘Directions
for the Invocations of Spirits’, Parkins is mentioned as a pupil of
Barrett, with whom he seems to have studied and practiced:
Horary Astrology, Crystal Gazing, Geomancy, Herbal Medicine, the
construction of Astrological Talismans and Ceremonial Magic.
Two associates of Barrett during the time
he was writing The Magus were Frederick Hockley and John Denley. Hockley met Barrett through Denley, who at the time was a
bookseller specialising in occult books. Hockley
who worked for Denley was involved in copying many of the occult manuscripts he
had for sale. According to Hockley,
Denley gave much of his information to Barrett for his book The Magus.
Most experts now agree that The Magus consists
for a large part, of translated selections taken from Cornelius Agrippa's Three
Books of Occult Philosophy and the Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy
also attributed to Agrippa. Other
selections appear to come from Robert Turner's 1655 translation of the Heptameron
of Peter of Abano. Barrett it seems
made a few modifications and modernized the spelling and syntax of these
its publication in 1801, The Magus went largely unnoticed until the early
1860’s, when Eliphas Levi and Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton met together
in England and joined an occult group to study clairvoyance, magic, astrology
and mesmerism. Each was greatly
influenced by The Magus, and they in turn would influence other great
writers and occultists in its use. In
1875, The Magus received its first reprinting, just when interest in
occult mysteries was under going a huge revival, groups and organizations such
as Freemasonry, the
Rosicrucian’s and other Hermetic groups such as the Order of the Golden
were all becoming prominent and interest in The Magus flourished.
When writing about Witches, Barrett believed that their power to torment or kill by enchantment, touch and wax effigy did not come from Satan. He claimed that if the Devil wanted to kill a man guilty of deadly sin, he would not need a Witch as an intermediary to do it for him. Barrett’s belief in magical power can be summed up as: “Magical power is contained in the inward or inner man. A certain proportion of the inner man longs for the external in all things. When the person is in the appropriate disposition, an appropriate connection between man and object can be attained”.
The Magus had been written while Barrett was still quite young, perhaps while in his late twenties early thirties, yet there is nothing known about him since after its publication?
The Encyclopedia of Witches &Witchcraft - by Rosemary Ellen Guiley.
Witchcraft and Black Magic - by Montague Summers.
The Witch Book - The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism - by Raymond Buckland.
The Magus - by Francis Barrett.
Plus numerous websites to many to mention.
First published on the 10th May 2005, 13:44:30 © George Knowles
Best wishes and Blessed Be
Site Contents - Links to all Pages
A Universal Message:
Let there be peace in the world - Where have all the flowers gone?
Wicca & Witchcraft
Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Traditions Part 1 - Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Other things of interest:
Gods and Goddesses (Greek
Mythology) / Esbats &
Full Moons / Links
to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft
Resources / What's a spell? /
Circle Casting and
Sacred Space / Pentagram
- Pentacle / Marks
of a Witch / The Witches
Power / The Witches Hat
esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism
Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1
/ Part 2 / Part
3 / A
history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope
Innocent VIII /
papal Bull /
Malleus Maleficarum /
An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum
/ The letter of approbation
Nider’s Formicarius /
Heinrich Kramer /
/ Montague Summers /
/ The Albigenses
The Hussites / The
/ Shielding (Occult
and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Rituals:
Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder. Also see: The Willow Tree (Folk Music)
Rocks and Stones:
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin: / Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murder by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders and Elders)
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A. Kelly / Albertus Magnus “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders "the King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Amber K / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Biddy Early / Bridget Cleary / Carl Llewellyn Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christina Oakley Harrington / Damh the Bard (Dave Smith) / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Dorothy Morrison / Doreen Valiente / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake and the Order of Woodcraft Chivalry / Fiona Horne / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gerald B. Gardner / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater "Horrible Herman" / Israel Regardie / James "Cunning" Murrell / Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone / Jessie Wicker Bell “Lady Sheba” / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave (the White Fox) / John Michael Greer / John Score / Johannes Junius the Burgomaster of Bamberg / Karl von Eckartshausen / Laurie Cabot "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Marie Laveau the " Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Matthew Hopkins “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the Desiderata / Monique Wilson the “Queen of the Witches” / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellers / Mrs. Grieve "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits / Philip Heselton / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and "The White Goddess" /Rudolf Steiner / Rosaleen Norton “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Ross Nichols and The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids / Sabrina - The Ink Witch / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather, Cotton Mather / Thomas Ady / Vera Chapman / Victor Henry Anderson / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest
Many of the above biographies are brief and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with aditional information, please cantact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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