Barrett, Francis

Barrett, Francis

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Francis Barrett, F.R.C., a professor of chemistry, was the author of the occult classic The Magus, published in 1801. The book's subtitle was "Celestial Intelligencer, being a complete system of occult philosophy." Many later books and compendiums borrowed heavily from Barrett's work.

Living on Norton Street, in Marylebone, London, an area favored by artists at the end of the eighteenth century, Barrett took on students of the occult and taught them the magical arts.

Timothy d'Arch Smith, in his introduction to the University Books facsimile edition of The Magus, states that Barrett's book was at that time the only attempt to revive the mysteries of magic and the occult, and that Barrett had obviously put a lot of time and effort into his work. "He clearly spent long hours toiling over translations of qabalistic and occult lore which had never before been translated into English or which were issued in the seventeenth century and were then, as now, of the last rarity."

In his preface, Barrett says, "We have, at a vast labour and expence, both of time and charges, collected whatsoever can be deemed curious and rare, in regard to the subject of our speculations in Natural Magic—the Cabala—Celestial and Ceremonial Magic—Aichymy—and magnetism. . . we therefore explain, in the clearest and most intelligible manner, how Talismans may be made, for the execution of various purposes. . . . We likewise shew the proper and convenient times; under what constellations and aspects of the planets they are to be formed, and the times when they are most powerful to act. . . ." He goes on to enumerate the many subjects covered in the book. The illustrations, magical tables, seals and talismans have been reproduced in numerous subsequent books on magic and the occult arts.

Barrett did believe that Witches used their power for evil purposes but did not believe that power came from the devil. The book was a central part of the Gothic revival of interest into occult matters then burgeoning in England. It was written when Barrett himself was quite young, yet little is known of what became of him after the publication of this book.

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