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A History of Western Magick

The known history of what has become the Western ceremonial magick tradition, including alchemy, astrology, evocation, and similar pursuits, spans roughly six or seven hundred years, the earliest manuscripts dating to the thirteenth century. However, this was solely when European scholars became aware of them at the dawning of the European Renaissance, as much of the material that formed the early corpus came from Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic sources (to name but a few) before being translated - typically into Latin.

The following timeline shows important dates in the emergence of the magickal tradition, as well as other notable dates and persons of interest for reference. I have purposely excluded living persons, because that just gets awkward…

If you believe I have done a grave disservice by excluding someone, or if you feel something is incorrectly attributed or dated, feel free to contact me.

Date Event
c.100 Dating of the Sepher Yetzirah, the seminal book on Kabbalah.
c.233 Porphyry born.
c.300 “The Testament of Solomon” appears, detailing how King Solomon conjured, controlled and used demons to build the Temple of Jerusalem.
c.304 Prophyry dies.
c.354 Saint Augustine born.
c.430 Saint Augustine dies.
c.500 Pseudo-Dionysius defines his hierarchy of angels.
c.700 Beginning of the Islamic Renaissance.
c.1100Dating of the Sepher ha-Bahir, a foundational book on Kabbalah.
1129 Knights Templar founded.
1189 Third Crusade begins.
1193 Albertus Magnus born.
c.1200The Zohar written; attributed to Moses de Leon.
1214 Roger Bacon born.
1225 Saint Thomas Aquinas born.
1250 Pietro d'Abano (Peter de Abano) born.
1274 Saint Thomas Aquinas dies.
1280 Albertus Magnus dies.
1292 Roger Bacon dies.
c.1300Beginning of the European Renaissance.
1307 Arrest of the Knights Templar.
1312 Knights Templar officially disbanded.
1314 Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay, burned at the stake.
1316 Pietro d'Abano dies.
1433 Marsilio Ficino, early humanist and neoplatonic philosopher, born.
1440 The printing press is introduced by Johannes Guttenberg.
1455 Johann Reuchlin born.
1458 The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage (internal date - speculative).
1459 Internal dating of “The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz”.
1462 Johannes Trithemius born.
1463 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, humanist philosopher, born.
1473 Nicolas Copernicus born.
1484 Pope Innocent VIII declares the practice of witchcraft to be heretical. (Prior to this date, it was purely a civil matter, not an ecclesiastical one.)
1486 Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim born.
  Giovanni Pico publishes his “900 Theses,” intending to debate them at the Vatican.
  Malleus Maleficarum, the Inquisitorial handbook on witch-hunting, published.
1489 Giovanni Pico publishes his “Apology,” defending the orthodoxy of his “900 Theses”.
1492 Christopher Columbus discovers the New World.
1493 Paracelsus born.
1494 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola dies - suspected poisoning.
1499 Trithemius' Steganographia first circulated in manuscript form, detailing a series of magical squares in what is really a treatise on cryptography.
  Marsilio Ficino Dies.
1515 Johann Weyer born.
1516 Johannes Trithemius dies.
1517 Reuchlin publishes “De Arte Cabalistica”.
  Martin Luther publishes his “Ninety-Five Theses” initiating the Protestant Reformation.
1522 Johann Reuchlin dies.
1527 John Dee, Elizabethan magician and astrologer, born.
1533 Agrippa publishes his “Three Books of Occult Philosophy”.
1534 Rabbi Isaac Luria born, widely regarded as the father of modern Kabbalah.
1535 Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim dies.
1541 Paracelsus dies.
1543 Nicolas Copernicus publishes “De revolutionibus orbium Coelestium” conceiving (and mathematically proving the validity) of the heliocentric model.
  Nicolas Copernicus dies.
1548 Giordiano Bruno born.
1555 John Dee imprisoned for “conjuring.”
  Edward Kelley, scryer for John Dee, born.
  Queen Elizabeth ascends to the throne of England.
1563 Johann Weyer publishes “De Praestigiis Daemonum et Incantationibus ac Venificiis,” containing “De Pseudomonarchia Daemonum” that details an early listing of the Goetia, a treatise against witch hunting hysteria.
1564 John Dee publishes “The Hieroglyphic Monad”, an inspired magical treatise.
  William Shakespeare born.
  Galileo Galilei born.
1570 John Dee publishes the introduction to Euclid's “Elements”.
1572 Isaac Luria dies.
1575 Arbatel published.
1582 John Dee and Edward Kelley begin to receive the Enochian system.
1583 Thomas Rudd born.
1584 Reginald Scot publishes “The Discoverie of Witchcraft” in which he gives an english translation of Weyer's “De Pseudomonarchia Daemonum”. This also was a treatise against witch hunting hysteria.
1588 Johann Weyer dies.
1593 Giordiano Bruno imprisoned by the Inquisition.
1597 Edward Kelley dies.
1600 Giordiano Bruno burned at the stake for heresy.
1606 Johann Trithemius' “Steganographia” published.
1608 John Dee dies.
1616 William Shakespeare dies.
1617 Elias Ashmole born.
1632 Galileo Galilei publishes “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” which defended a heliocentric world-view.
1642 Galileo Galilei dies.
1643 Sir Isaac Newton born.
1656 Thomas Rudd dies.
1659 Meric Causabon publishes “A True and Faithful Relation…” detailing a number of Dee's angelic conferences.
1692 Elias Ashmole dies.
  The Salem Witch Trials begin. Nineteen persons are hung upon their conviction.
1717 First Masonic Grand Lodge created (England).
1727 Sir Isaac Newton dies.
1735 The Witchcraft Act passed in England.
1801 Francis Barrett publishes “The Magus”.
1810 Alphonse Louis Constant (Eliphas Levi) born.
1854 S.L. MacGregor Mathers, head of The Golden Dawn, born.
1855 Eliphas Levi publishes “Dogma et Rituel de le Haute Magie” later published by A.E. Waite as “Transcendental Magic”.
  Theodor Reuss, founding member of the O.T.O., born.
1857 Arthur Edward Waite born.
1865 Gerard Encausse (Papus) born.
1875 Alphose Louis Constant (Eliphas Levi) dies.
  Aleister Crowley born.
1884 Founding of the Theosophical Society.
  Paul Foster Case, founder of B.O.T.A., born.
  Gerald Gardner, founder of Gardnerian Wicca, born.
1886 Austin Osmond Spare born.
1888 The Golden Dawn opens Isis-Urania Temple in London.
1889 Mathers publishes “The Key of Solomon”.
1891 A.E. Waite joins the Golden Dawn.
1895 Founding of Ordo Templi Orientis.
1898 Aleister Crowley joins the Golden Dawn.
1900 A schism in the Golden Dawn creates a number of offshoots. The order never fully recovers.
1904 Aleister Crowley receives “The Book of the Law”.
  Aleister Crowley publishes “The Goetia”.
1907 Israel Regardie born.
1911 A.E. Waite publishes “The Pictoral Key to the Tarot”.
1913 Crowley composes the Gnostic Mass.
1914 World War I begins.
1916 Gerard Encausse (Papus) dies.
1918 World War I ends.
  S.L. MacGregor Mathers dies.
1922 Aleister Crowley becomes head of O.T.O.
1928 Discovery of penicillin.
1939 World War II begins with Germany's invasion of Poland.
1942 Arthur Edward Waite dies.
1945 World War II ends.
1947 Aleister Crowley dies.
1951 The Witchcraft Act of 1735 repealed.
1954 Paul Foster Case dies.
1956 Austin Osmond Spare dies.
1964 Gerald Gardner dies.
1978 Foundations of Chaos Magick introduced.
1985 Israel Regardie dies.


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