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.”

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

Astrological Charts

Astrological Charts

Symbols showing the characteristics of evil spirits.

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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