Renaissance magic blends Kabbalah, Neoplatonism and astrology into one system of magic. This system of magic laid out ceremonial magic as we know it and influenced the grimoire tradition as well as future magic traditions and orders such as The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and even the demonology of modern demonolatry. Renaissance magic recognizes several types of spirits besides demons, angels and saints; such as the Olympic spirits of the Arbatel. This system is a monotheistic-based system heavily influenced by Neoplatonism. All Abrahamic faiths can be applied to this type of magic system as reverence and religiousity do play a very big role in the execution of this system. Therefore we do have Jewish, Christian as well as Muslim grimoires to work with.
These books will be your basic literature to start out with. The Three Books of Occult Philosophy and Christian Astrology will remain to be a go-to reference for further practice and deeper study as well. The Elizabethan World Picture gives a very straightforward breakdown of the type of worldview Renaissance magic operates from; so after reading it you’ll have a very basic idea of what you are studying, something you would usually have to study Neoplatonism for. Secrets of Planetary Magic will give you a decent introduction into the specifics of planetary magic, which is a key factor in Renaissance magic.
- “The Three Books of Occult Philosophy” or “De Occulta Philosophia Libri III” by Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa. Read for free.
- “Christian Astrology” by William Lilly. Read excerpts.
- “The Elizabethan World Picture” by E. M. W. Tillyard.
- “Secrets of Planetary Magic” by Christopher Warnock.
Now time to deepen your studies!
Renaissance magic draws heavily on Plato’s work, who in turn drew heavily on Pythagoras. Timaeus is a short read and will give you a good outline. The Republic is one of Plato’s most famous works and will give you a decent picture on platonic theology. While reading The Republic you will need to pay attention to the philosophical bits and pieces incorporated into the dialogue between Socrates and Glaucon. The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library is a collection of all sorts of works concerning Pythagoras. You will get a good idea on the life, philosophy and asceticism of Pythagoras as well as the teachings of his own school. You will also see Pythagoras’ influence on Plato and the Renaissance once you get to the planetary spheres and music therapy. Plotinus, Proclus and Ficino will be your main source on Neoplatonism.
- “Timaeus” by Plato. Read for free.
- “The Republic” by Plato. Read for free.
- “The Pythagorean Sourcebook and Library” by Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie, edited by Patrick Rousell. Read for free.
- “Enneads” by Plotinus. Read for free.
- “The Elements of Theology” by Proclus. Read for free.
- “Platonic Theology” by Marsilio Ficino.
Those following books are important for Renaissance magic as well, just not as starter material.
- “The Hermetic and Alchemical Writings of Aureolus Philippus Theophrastus Bombast, of Hohenheim, Called Paracelsus the Great: Now for the First Time Faithfully Translated Into English” by A. E. Waite. Read for free.
- “Three Books on Life” by Marsilio Ficino.
- “The Dignity of Man” by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola.
- “On the Art of Kabbalah” or “De Arte Cabalistica” by Johann Reuchlin.
- “De Praestigiis Daemonum” by Johann Weyer.
Grimoires are magical texts of the Renaissance, which mostly contain seemingly straightforward instructions, incantations, rituals and spells. However I do not recommend practicing out of any of those books without proper instruction.
- “The 4th Book of Occult Philosophy” by pseudo-Agrippa. Read for free.
- “The Book of Abramelin” edited by Georg Dehn.
- “The Arbatel of Magic” – Anonymous work edited by Joseph H. Peterson. Read for free.
- “The Veritable Key of Solomon” edited by Stephen Skinner and David Rankine.
- “Picatrix” edited by Dan Attrell or Christopher Warnock.
- “Archidoxis Magicae” by pseudo-Paracelsus.
- “Key of Solomon” edited by S. L. MacGregor Mathers. Read for free.