Mr. R.A. Priddle joins me to explore the world of fraudulent ballooning magicians. No, not the Wizard of Oz, but rather Francis Barrett, author of that famous early 19th century tome of ritual magic, The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer. Mr. Priddle, or Robert, as I usually call him, wrote his dissertation on Barrett and as I learned very quickly, it is actually not fair to label Barrett as fraudulent. He was instead a working, professional magician and teacher of magic, and his influential book was crucial for keeping alive many earlier occult secrets for later generations.
Barrett led a life filled with interesting characters and dangerous adventures. He was an alchemist who experimented with hydrogen ballooning. He studied under Ebenezer Sibly, the 18th century astrologer famous for casting the natal chart for the United States of America. Barrett also attempted a translation of George von Welling’s massive tome, Opus Mago-cabbalisticum et Theosophicum.
Barrett’s legacy is also impressive. He influenced Eliphas Levi and Edward Bulwer-Lytton, thus becoming a major contributor to the 19th century occult revival. In addition, a talisman drawn directly from The Magus was carried by none other than Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter-Day Saints (you know, the Mormons).
I have a feeling that you will love this episode of the podcast. Mr. Priddle’s enthusiasm in exploring Francis Barrett’s life, work, and influence is infectuous. Barrett is an historical character worth examining, and I think you will agree that his work is worth a closer look.
- “More Cunning than Folk: An analysis of Francis Barrett’s The Magus as indicative of a transitional period of English magic,” by R.A. Priddle
- R.A. Priddle on Udemy – make sure to check out his course, “Foundations in the Study of Magic”!
- The Magus, or Celestial Intelligencer by Francis Barrett
- “The Art of Drawing Spirits into Crystals” by Pseudo-Trithemius (also be sure to check out Sam Block’s excellent ebook on this text.)
- Ebenezer Sibly and the Natal Chart of the United States
- Georg von Welling
- Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa
- Pietro d’Abano
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