Levi's History Of Magic

When I was 20 years old, my teacher in Wicca and I were discussing books about Magick. I asked her one day her opinion on Eliphas Levi History Of Magic. She told me that there are better books on this subject and that this book is outdated. Years later, I asked the same question to Sorita d' Este, around 2015. She told me the same thing. The problem is that I paid a lot of money (46 euros) to buy the two volumes translated in Hellenic/Greek and I had to read them eventually. The work that has been done by the Greek masonic publishing house in this book is awful. At the beginning of 2022, I started this task and in this article, I am sharing with you the main points of that work along with some of my thoughts.

The book was published in 1860 and for some occultists, it is considered a very good sourcebook. I wonder if they have read it. I am not mean at all. The book is full of contradictions and lacks any kind of scientific thinking, like using sources and ancient texts and although it has some good points, you will get frustrated and you will learn nothing about magic and its history. It was good for its century but outdated for ours. If you planning to read it, buy it at a logical price and choose what chapters you want to read. This article will help you or you can see the titles of the sub-books of the book. I don't want to be unfair to Mr. Levi, but for his century, he could have done more research on the subject, but since he seems to be passionate about some things and hate those who don't intrigue him, he makes mistakes.

Eliphas Levi is the metaphysical name of Alphonse Louis Constant. He was born in 1810 and died in 1875. A child of a poor family in France, he wanted to become a priest and he joined the program, but he fell in love with a girl and he had to abandon that dream. He started to write as a journalist, but after some "visits" to jail, he devoted himself to secret societies and became an esotericist. He was initiated in 1861 to the masonic order Lodge Rose du Parfait Silence Grand Orient. He left freemasonry due to the hostility of masons with Catholicism (at least, that is what I read).

Book I

At the beginning of the book, Levi shares his thoughts about the origin of magic. Well, they are weird and they will seem to be weird to any modern magician and witch, but we have to consider his time and his involvement with freemasonry. The teaching of magic came from the second fall of the angels, as it is described in the rejected book of Enoch. Then he says that Cain was the teacher of diabolical magic and Seth (his other brother) the teacher of good magic. Seth went to Israel and Cain to India. So, Kabbalah was created by Seth and Hinduism by Cain. Then he mentions that they were 2 Zoroasters who taught magic to Chaldeans, Persians, and Medes. Another Zoroaster taught people the magic of the matter, which is evil magic. What Levi mentions as the teachings of Zoroaster, the Chaldean Oracles, are nothing more than a synopsis of Neoplatonic teachings of later years. Until now, I haven't understood if the origin of magick comes from Nephelim, Zoroasters, or Cain and Seth.

Anyway, in the chapter of the Chaldean Oracles, he mentions a magnetic organ of rhomboid shape, made from wood, which is spun around and it causes a sound. Inside of it, there is nothing. Here, we see that he describes the iynx, a tool associated with Hekate. Levi mentions magnetism because he considers astral light as a form of electromagnetism. He has some good ideas like: "magic is a science that should not be mistreated as we are in danger of losing it and losing ourselves."

He has hate against Indian religion and magic and we see it clearly in chapter 3. He writes with passion. He believes that black magic originated and spread in India, and he characterizes it as profane kabbalah. Religion is a worship of the devil, that makes Cain the first satanist. He also attributes to black Zoroaster the Indian theology, which leads to pantheism and then materialism. He also mentions that breathing exercises of India (yoga) are methods to kill the one who tries them or make him crazy, they are dangerous and ridiculous. This is what he writes. He also compares this magic with mediumship and calls it black magick, as it is an art that will make you crazy. He also mentions a Hindu text and comments it accordingly, as the text encourages lying. 

Next, he mentions that in Egypt magic was flourished to "a perfect dogma" and he mentions the smaragdine tablet. He also expresses his admiration for hermetic philosophy and he believes that in Egypt the dogma of Zoroaster was depicted. The book of Thoth and later Tarot is the alphabet of kabbalah for him and something that was used by Moses. Hebrews learned this type of secret teachings from the Egyptians. The question here is, since the Hebrews learned magic from Seth, as he told us previously, then why do they have to learn it from the Egyptians?

Then we see how was magic in ancient Hellas and here we read even more weird things and inaccuracies. He writes that magic was dressed with beauty in Hellas/Greece. For Levi, the golden fleece story was a journey that the Hellenes went to bring the magic of Egypt. In reality, the opposite thing happened and you can read it in my article on Hermetism on the website. He also writes that Colchis was a main center of Zoroastrism, but in reality, if you read the ancient texts, those people had the same religion and were of the same nation as the Hellenes, because they were inhabitants of the mainland who spread around the Mesogeios sea. He also writes against Circe and Medea, comparing Medea with Cain. He considers them as the ancestors of European witchcraft, and for him, witchcraft is evil. Those are crazy things. He also mentions that Aeschylos wasn't initiated to the mysteries and the Athenians wanted to kill him, but if you read his first of the three tragedies for Prometheas, you will easily understand that he was an adept, not to mention that is accepted by ancient authors too. Besides that, he clearly admires Pythagoras, but he mentions that he was a Kabbalist, which is not true, as we can say that Kabbala we use today is mainly rooted in Pythagoras and not the Hebrews, not to mention that there is no ancient reference to support his opinion.

The first book ends with praise to Hebrew Kabbalah. He clarify his previous writings by saying that Seth taught Kabbalah to the Chaldeans, then the Egyptians learned from Chaldeans and then Moses cleaned Kabbalah and put it into the Bible. John the evangelist put it to the Apocalypse. For me, these ideas are paranoic and reality denies them, but at that time, western science was, let's say, blur. He also provides an explanation to AGLA. Instead of our known Ateh Gibour Leohlam Adonai, he mentions the letter. Aleph the first letter, gimel the third letter, lamed the twelfth letter mean one, fertility, circle. So, "the monad through the triad completes the circle of the numbers and returns to one." Pretty Pythagorian, don't you think? He then mentions the small keys of Solomon to be talismans of the 72 names of divinity, which is actually the opposite. Not to mention that the Key Of Solomon is a text of the 17th century, originated in Byzantium. Levi makes some weird statements about the kabbalists. "They avoid all ill invocations, which disturb the nervous system and make the logical part get drunk". Also "those who perform transcendental meditations are as wise as drug users of opium and marijuana." I don't think that most magicians will agree with him. Then, he denies actual necromancy, with the deads being raised. If he writes that, he hasn't read much about ancient Hellenic texts. He clarifies that necromancy can be done through a reflection area. At the end of the chapter, he writes that calling the elemental spirits "will cause sadness and loss of order". So, for him, all witchcraft causes the destruction of life. Very weird views.

Book II

This book isn't relevant to the subject of magick and its history. He clarifies that Nephilims were born from the daughters of Cain, not from other families. Now, if we examine logically that, he had mentioned that since the fallen angels taught magick and they had kids (Nephilims) only with the daughters of Cain, then how there can be good magic, the magic of Hebrews, Egyptians, and Chaldeans? Another contradiction on Levi's theory, and notice, I am not examining the fact that most of the Old Testament is a fantasy tale.

He mentions that sabbats were crime rituals, something that was also propagated by the church and it is weird that an occultist is a victim of that propaganda. In general, we see in that book that Levi hates and fears magick and practical applications of occultism. The question is, why does he write about that subject? He expresses some good views against democracy to support lineage and hierarchy and he considers the witches something like communists of our days. As he is a supporter of lineage, he considers heretics and crazy people those who claim or try to speak directly with God, without a catholic priest and he attacks ancient religions who attempted communication with the divine through magical operations. This is a clear attack on all forms of magic. He writes that "anarchic magic is a cult of the devil. He also attacks the ancient magick of Hellenes and Egyptians for using barbarous names and he characterizes that magick as black! For Levi, goetia (he means necromancy) consisted of dislocating the heads of the babies and sacrificing them to the spirits.

We read that Plato was initiated by the Hebrews into their mysteries and the mysteries of Egypt. The truth is that there is no such clue or suspicion. According to Levi, the magical dogma is one platonic teaching.

Levi claims that if during a ritual the furniture makes noise, the doors tremble, something appears on paper or fabric, if the atmosphere changes, then the devil has come, as he considers those effects as "diabolical seals". I believe that not even the church was so fanatic and false on the occult.

He also attacks cartomancy saying that it is a cooperation with the spirits and that the person acts as a medium. Cartomancy is dangerous! Also, disasters of life won't be avoided with divination. So, not only he does hate magic and divination, he hates cartomancy and he believes that the future cannot change.

The book ends with surprisingly, another contradiction. "Magic is the natural science, relevant with religion because it initiates humans in the secrets of divinity". Wait a minute, at the beginning of the book we read that magic comes from the fallen angels who had sex with the daughters of Cain and later we read that we cannot communicate with the divinity if we don't have the priest to be a medium. His text doesn't make a lot of sense. He even accuses Porphyrios of losing his way, because he writes that we can eat the heart of birds who are useful to divination if we want to give oracles. He writes that during Titanomachy, the Hellenic Gods were transformed into animals (Artemis to a wolf, Hekate to a lion-horse-dog...) I don't think that I have ever read that in Hesiod.

Book III

In that book, we read Levi's views against Judaism and the relationship between what he considers as magic (the science of world balance) with Christianity. He narrates the fight between Simon the magus and the apostle Peter. 

In chapter three he is writing about the devil-satan-lucifer and he identifies him with ancient gods Areiman, Shiva, god of witches in Persia, Nishroch, Astarte, Astaroth, Lilith, Nachema, Adramelek, Belial, etc. For him, satan is not one black god, but the denial of God (atheism). The light of lucifer is the light of hell's fire. Illusions are the effect of possession by the devil.

He mentions Apollonios and Ioulianos (Julian) as the last ethnics (the followers of the Hellenic religion) and he admires Apollonios, as we see from the text (and other texts of him).

Book IV

"Black magic retreated as Christianity was spreading its light." This is how the book starts. Then he mentions stories and he interprets them in his own ways, as he did in earlier parts of the book with the Hellenic Myths. Chapter four begins by stating "Charlemagne is the prince of magics..." and it ends "magicians, oracles, witches, demon evocations, talismans, changing the air, creating characters and performing fake witchcraft to animals and people were against the law. Magicians and astrologers, oracles, necromancers, occult mathematicians were ostracised and they had the same punishments with thieves, killers and people who give poisons." It doesn't make any sense. If Charlemagne is the princess of magick, then why did he make laws to consider magickians and witches as killers? 

The book ends with the story of Templar Knights, who were worshippers of Baphomet, pantheists, and belonged to the heresy of Joannites. He also states that they created a secret masonic order, which is spread.

Levi says that the devil can possess only people who are volunteering for that. Sadly, reality proves him wrong. His last word is about spiritism (ouija tables and seances), which he hates and considers as an insult to human value. "Look the last word of the discoveries from America", says ironically. I think we all agree with that.


No votes yet

Theurgy and Philosophy are two different methods which lead to the union with God.


Follow on

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Latest Comments


Back to Top