Magic and the Occult – Agrippa: De Occulta Philosophia

Written by Louise Cowan, Trainee Liaison Librarian

Happy Halloween!  To celebrate the spookiest day of the year here is a special find from our collections:

De Occulta Philosophia, Reserve -189.5-AGR

The ‘De Occulta Philosophia Libri III’ or ‘The Three Books of Occult Philosophy’ was written by Henrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (Agrippa), a German writer, famous for his works on magic and the occult.   According to Copenhaver (2008), “Agrippa recognised that magic was an art, a practical technique, but he also insisted on a theoretical content in magic, an analytic basis in the study of nature.”

Astrological Charts.

‘De Occulta Philosophia’ explores a range of magical concepts including magic, astrology, demonology, divination, witchcraft and numerology.

The characteristics of evil spirits.

Although Agrippa eventually wrote a retraction to his work, it remains an important resource for those studying magic and Renaissance philosophy today.  Agrippa even features in J.K.Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ Series as a collectable chocolate frog card!


Copenhaver, B.P. (2008) ‘Natural Philosophy: Astrology and Magic’,in Schmitt, C.B., Skinner, Q., Kessler, E. and Kraye, J. (eds) The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy. [online]Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,pp 264-266.

Nauert, C.G. (2015) ‘Agrippa von Nettesheim’. Oxford Bibliographies. [Online]Oxford: Oxford University Press

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