Preface to

Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires

By Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero

It is often difficult for people living in the twenty-first century to appreciate the intelligence, beliefs, and nobility of those who lived in medieval Europe from roughly 476 to 1453 C.E. This period, sandwiched between antiquity and the beginning of the renaissance, is often described contemptuously as the "Dark Ages," even by a good many of today's magicians, priests, and priestesses. And yet the methods and esoteric knowledge of medieval magic, which was itself drawn from ancient sources, formed the ancestral backbone of what would later come to be known as modern ceremonial magic. The magical worldview of the medieval mages was largely carried over into the renaissance, where it continued to fascinate the leading scholars of the day. Renaissance academics and magicians, such as Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, and Henry Cornelius Agrippa, came to see magic not as some left-over relic of a superstitious age, but rather as a enlightened philosophy, a sublime science, and a part of the natural order of the world.

In order to comprehend medieval magic, it is necessary to examine the primary repositories of this knowledge-the grimoires, or magical texts containing spells, incantations, and ritual instructions for working with angels and conjuring spirits. This is not an easy task for modern readers who are often bewildered and sometimes put off by the antiquated language of these texts, not to mention the fact that many grimoires seem incomplete or are written in a manner which assumes that the reader is already familiar with grimoiric techniques.

To understand the grimoires within their own context, we must not look at them through the eyes of twenty-first century readers with modern sensibilities. We must examine them with the eyes of the medieval magician, who lived in a world much harsher than our own: famine, epidemic illness, religious persecution, and warfare often meant that human life was cheap. As a result, the magic employed by medieval mages to protect home and hearth was a very serious business and not for the faint of heart.

A better understanding of the grimoires can be arrived at by delving into the life and times of the magicians who wrote them. This involves an evaluation of the historical perspectives, the social and cultural realities, and the religious mindset of the world these magicians lived in, as well as a detailed exploration of magical practices outlined in the grimoires themselves. It also involves an examination of the more archaic magical practices of Babylonia, the ancient Hebrews, and the Hellenistic world-for these ancient cultures had an enormous influence on European magicians and on their magical writings.

Aaron Leitch's Secrets of the Grimoires provides a tremendous amount of new insight into the world of the medieval mage. By clarifying the objectives and procedures covered in these texts and spell-books, Leitch sheds light upon a subject which has been greatly misunderstood for far too long. In addition, he provides a valuable comparison between many of the magical practices described in the grimoires and various Shamanic methods of working with the spirit world.

It is refreshing to hear the historical and anthropological facts about Goety, or working with lower or infernal spirits-one area of magic that is covered in the grimoires. Leitch reveals that the roots of Goetic magic can be found in ancient Shamanic practices which dealt with the exorcism expulsion, or binding of evil spirits, which were often associated with illness, disease, and other forms of misfortune. The Shamanic exorcist had to be a mage of the highest spiritual purity and training in order to carry out this dangerous duty and protect his community from harmful spirits. Compare this to the flippant attitude of some modern magical dabblers and psychobabblers who contend that no spirit could ever hurt anyone, or that such spirits only exist in the mind. The fact that exorcism of harmful spirits is the origin of Goetic magic is certainly lost on the throngs of ill-trained people who wish to evoke Goetic spirits for fun and profit, or invoke them as part of some sexual exercise.

One of the greatest assets of this present work is the meticulous attention paid to the subject of theurgy or "god working," which Leitch describes as "the heart of our work." Theurgy is designed to elevate the magician's soul toward the celestial realms by invoking and communicating with angels, archangels, and various levels of Deity. The detailed regimen of magical work, purity, humility, and self-control required of a medieval theurgist should leave the reader with little doubt that the spiritual path of the adept magician is a high caliber discipline which takes work, perseverance, and dedication.

This book is also invaluable for the manner in which it helps to explain and clarify the work of Agrippa, the influential sixteenth century mage whose magnum opus, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, was a primary source book for later Hermetic magicians. Other important and well-known grimoires, such as the Key of Solomon and the Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-melin the Mage are also covered at length. Rarely have these works been examined with such thoroughness.

With the publication of Secrets of the Grimoires, the magic of our medieval predecessors has finally been removed from the "Dark Ages" of modern misconception to the light of day.

Chic Cicero
Sandra Tabatha Cicero
Metatron House
Autumnal Equinox, 2001

Copyright © 2003 Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero.