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What is a Grimoire? What the Spell Books of Witches and Wizards Were Like

A Grimoire, a witch's or wizard's spell book which groups together spells, rituals, demon names ... and so much more

A spell book
What is a Grimoire? What the Spell Books of Witches and Wizards Were Like

In popular culture, when we hear about witches or sorcerers, we visualize them reading magic books (containing either white or black magic), in chapters where magical rituals, spells and overall witchcraft practices are collected. Those magic books have a name: Grimoires.

Grimoires were very popular from 1600 to 1900. They were mainly used during the Middle Ages, and many of them are still available to us currently. Do you want to know all the secrets that are hidden between their pages? Then do not miss a detail of the following article ... we will talk about these magic books.

What is a Grimoire?

The word grimoire is used to refer to a wide variety of texts including but not limited to spells, rituals, and demon names. These magic books are linked mainly to black magic.

The instructions to invoke demons are detailed in these peculiar spell books, and are almost an instruction manual for the sorcerer or witch to obtain secret information, inaccessible to the rest of mortals, on subjects such as the invocation of spirits, or how to cast a spell at any given time.

Grimoires are books that according to many have no human origin. Their discovery is believed to be related, in one way or another, with the hereafter,  the world of the dead, and specifically with the world of evil. Nonetheless, other grimoires were written by great sorcerers who wanted to record their findings; some of them, according to tradition, were the fruit of meetings of dozens of magicians gathered in an assembly. It is worth noting that the instructions of the grimoire must be followed carefully and meticulously if one wants to successfully achieve the set objectives.

Some followers and practitioners of black magic and witchcraft emphasize that the spells of their grimoire must be written by hand with red ink, and preferably, using blood. These spells must be connected to each other using black leather; there are also numerous references to the use of human skin as a support for spells in grimoires.

Very often grimoires have been found to have a lock, and thus, those who do not possess the key will not be able to freely access the secrets linked to sorcery and the invocation of the evil one. Some are written in a very special language, which can only be deciphered by experts; an encoding that, like the aforementioned key, will prevent people who shouldn’t use the grimoires from accessing their content. 

Enochian, the language of Grimoires

True grimoires contain elaborated rituals with very detailed instructions on how each operation should be performed. The source of most of the information contained in most existing grimoires comes from ancient Greek and Egyptian magical writings, as well as Hebrew texts and Latin scrolls, used by ancestral magicians.

The followers of black magic, however,  often use a very old language called Enochian. It is said to be the language used by angels, a primitive, very guttural language, based on the vibratory properties of each word. Many magic formulas and spells are recited in Enochian.

However, it depends on the geographical area; for example, in the Nordic and Germanic civilizations, there is another dialect, of Celtic origin, used for the writing of grimoires and whose writing is composed of runes, particular symbols.

Grimoires: beyond black magic

These magic books are not always linked to demons:  some grimoires are associated with the knowledge of astrology, alchemy, and talismanic science, among others. Grimoires were used to make amulets or practice elaborated rites designed to scare away evil spirits and avoid bad luck. They were a hope for those who desperately sought partners through some love potion, and for those who were thirsty to turn any element into gold.

However, all the grimoires have been condemned by the Christian church as works of witchcraft, and their authors and users were sometimes burned alive at the stake after being judged. An interesting fact worth mentioning is that there are grimoires whose printing dates back to the fifteenth century, same period of time in which the Bible was first printed. 

Grimoires and other famous magic books

We have compiled 7 of the most popular Grimoires:

The Grand Grimoire

It is a black magic Grimoire of which there are different editions dating from 1521, 1522 and 1421, but it believed to have been written in the early nineteenth century by Antonio Venitiana del Rabina. This author would have compiled the information contained in the book of the original writings of King Solomon. It contains instructions intended to invoke Lucifer and to make a pact with the devil. This book is also known as the Red Dragon or Gospel of Satan.

Key of Solomon

It is a grimoire attributed to King Solomon  and its origin probably dates back to the Italian Renaissance. It presents a typical example of Renaissance magic. According to legend, King Solomon would have written it for his son Roboam before ordering him to hide it in his grave at the time of his death. It includes a variety of songs, spells, and curses to summon or restrain the demons and spirits of the dead.


The Picatrix or "the objective of the wise" is the western name used for a 400-page book of magic and astrology written in Arabic with the title “Ghâyat al-Hakîm fi'l-sihr” which dates back to the mid-eleventh century. It synthesizes ancient works on magic and astrology and is divided into six volumes.

Munich Manual of Demonic Magic 

It is a grimoire written in Latin during the fifteenth century. It mainly revolves around demonology and necromancy. The manual contains the three main types of "magic arts" known at the time: illusionism, psychology and divination. It contains passages that describe the sacrifice of mythological creatures, and  is very focused on black magic and descriptions of classical exorcisms.

The Book of Abramelin

The Book of Abramelin tells the story of an Egyptian magician named Abraham or Abra-Melin, and was very popular during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is a grimoire written in a narrative style, which lists a standard hierarchy of demons and a series of spells made up of words written in the shape of squares..


This magic book is a sixteenth century Latin manuscript  and is attributed to the famous English scientist Roger Bacon, although some believe that its true author was Frater Robert Lombard. The text describes processes destined to invocations particularly of spectra, but also of other demons and infernal entities. It also gives the keys to the resurrection and control of the dead.

The Grimoire of Pope Honorius

The Liber Juratus Honorii or The Grimoire of Pope Honorius is a work supposedly written by Pope Honorious III. It is said that it is the product of a conference of magicians whose purpose was to condense all their knowledge into a single volume. In its 93 chapters there are instructions on how to conjure and control demons, how to work on other magical operations or how to free a soul from purgatory.