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Archives and Special Collections

Welcome to the Esotericism and Magical Tradition guide

This resource guide is based on a reading list for a seminar (ARAM251) created by Dr James Downs, and provides an overview of resources held by the University of Exeter's Special Collections and the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum that relate to esotericism and the magical tradition.

The boxes below list sources from the collections relating to different themes, and contain links to the catalogues, through which you can explore the collections further. 

The resources highlighted in this guide have been identified using our catalogues, but are not exhaustive. You can search our archives catalogue and library catalogue with key word searches to identify further items of interest. More information on searching the catalogues can be found on the Search our Catalogues LibGuide. If you come across any other sources within our collections that you think should be included in this guide, we would be very pleased to hear about them.

Archives and rare books held by Special Collections and the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum are available to everyone. More information about accessing the collections can be found in our Visiting Heritage Collections LibGuide. Please note that there may be some restrictions on accessing and copying (including photography) material in the archives and books held by Special Collections and the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum in line with current data protection and copyright legislation. Always make sure to check the access conditions on the archive catalogue and email Special Collections before your visit for more information about specific restrictions.

Ancient and Arabic sources

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Iamblichus, De mysteriis Aegyptiorum, Chaldaeorum, Assyriorum : Proclus in Platonicum Alcibiadem de anima, atque daemone...

Lyons: apud Joan.Turnaesium, 1570)

Rare Books A 1570/IAM


Iamblichus, De mysteriis liber…

Oxford: Theatro Sheldoniano, 1678

Ottery St Mary 1678/IAM


Kitab al-Mujarrabat - also known as Fath-al-malik al-majid [A treatise on healing magic written by 18th century Egyptian legal scholar of the Shafi'i school, Al-Shaykh Aḥmad ibn ʻUmar Dayrabī (1651-1738), who taught at al-Alzhar]

EUL MS 218


Lithograph copy of Kitab Shumūs al-Anwār wa Kunūz al-Asrār

['The book of the suns of lights and the treasures of secrets': a treatise on charms and talismans) by Ibn al-Hajj Muhammed ibn Muhammed (d 1336), printed 1868 with later handwritten notations, possibly a first edition]

Qastaliyah Press, Cairo, Egypt

EUL MS 220


Papers on Omani witchcraft and folklore [Handwritten notes and typescripts recording anecdotes about spells, transportation, jinns, curses and so on, gathered by John Carter while working in Oman in the 1960s.]

EUL MS 476/1/7

(please ask at Special Collections)


Edward William Lane, An account of the manners and customs of the modern Egyptians : written in Egypt during the years 1833, -34, and -35, partly from notes made during a former visit to that country in the years 1825, -26, -27, and -28 London: C. Knight and Co., 1836 (2 vols)

Reserve 916.2 LAN

Meanings of Belief, from late Medieval to Early Modern

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Heinrich Kramer & Jacob Sprenger, Malleus Maleficarum [with Johannes Nider’s Formicaria.] Frankfurt: 1588

Baring-Gould Library 0495


Peter Thyraeus, Daemoniaci, hoc est: de obsessis a spiritibus daemoniorum hominibus. Bound with the same author’s De infestis ob molestantes daemoniorum et defuncto and De apparitionibus omnis generis spirituum, dei, angelorum, daemonum, et anima

Cologne: Cholini, 1598

Baring-Gould Library 0497


Martin Antoine Del Rio SJ, Disquisitionum magicarum libri sex, quibus continetur accurata curiosarum artium, et vanarum superstitionum confutatio, utilis theologis, jurisconsultis, medicis, philologis

Cologne: Hermann Demen, 1679.

             Baring-Gould Library 0488 


King James VI and I, Daemonologie, In Forme of a Dialogue [in, The workes of the most high & mightie prince, James, King of Great Britaine, France & Ireland]

London: Robert Barker & Iohn Bill, 1616

Crediton Library 1616 JAM/X


Robert Fludd, Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica, physica atque technica historia...

Oppenhemii: aere Johan-Theodori de Bry, typis Hieronymi Galleri, 1617-18

                        Rare Books B 1617/FLU/X


Anon, The Doctrine of Devils

London: for the author, 1676

Crediton Library 1676/DOC


Joseph Glanvill, Saducismus triumphatus: or, Full and plain evidence concerning witches and apparitions... Part 2

London: for S. Lownds, 1680

Rare Books B 1680/GLA


Giambattista Della Porta, Natural magick… wherein are set forth all the riches and delights of the natural sciences [English translation of Magia naturalis, with signature of Courtenay Pole]

London: for Thomas Young & Samuel Speed, 1658

Dodderidge 1658/DEL/X 


Edward Fairfax, Daemonologia: a discourse on witchcraft as it was acted in the family of Mr. Edward Fairfox of Fuyston, in the County of York, in the year 1621; along with two eclogues of the same author known to be in existence [With a biographical introduction and notes topographical and illustrative, by William Grainge]

Harrogate: Ackrill, 1882

Reserve 398.382 FAI 


John Beaumont, An historical, physiological and theological treatise of spirits, apparitions, witchcrafts, and other magical practices...

London: for D.Browne, &c, 1705

Crediton Library 170/BEA


Abbé Laurent Bordelon, A history of the ridiculous extravagancies of Monsieur Oufle: occasioned by his reading books treating of magick, the black-art, daemoniacks, conjurers, witches... / written originally in French by the Abbot B- and now translated into English

London: J.Morphew, 1711

          Baring-Gould Library 0486 


Eberhard David Hauber, Bibliotheca, acta et scripta magica, Vol.2. Gründliche Nachrichten und Urtheile von solchen Büchern und Handlungen…

Lemgo: Gedruckt bey J.H.Meyer, 1738-45

Baring-Gould Library 0490 


Joseph Taylor, Apparitions: or, The mystery of ghosts, hobgoblins and haunted houses developed, being a collection of entertaining stories founded on fact, and selected for the purpose of eradicating those ridiculous fears...

London: Lackington, Allen & Co., 1814

Reserve 398.47 TAY


John Netten Radcliffe, Fiends, ghosts and sprites: including an account of the origin and nature of belief in the supernatural

London: Richard Bentley, 1854

Reserve 398.47 RAD

From the Enlightenment to the Victorian Occult Revival: historical theories, ahistorical practices?

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William Stukeley, Stonehenge: a temple restored to the British Druids, bound with Abury: a temple of the British druids, with some others, described

London: Innys & Manby, 1740. Facsimile reprint, published in 1838

            Reserve 913.4231 STU/X


Godfrey Higgins, The Celtic druids: or an attempt to shew that the Druids were the priests of oriental colonies who emigrated from India

London: Hunter, 1829

Reserve 299.16 HIG/X 


William Borlase, Antiquities, historical and monumental, of the county of Cornwall...

London: 1769

Reserve 942.37 BOR/X


John Campbell Colquhoun, An history of magic, witchcraft, and animal magnetism

London: Longman, Brown, etc., 1851.  2 vols. Bookplate of Sabine Baring-Gould.

Baring-Gould Library 0487


Frederick Thomas Elworthy, The evil eye: an account of this ancient & widespread superstition

London: Murray, 1895

Reserve 398.38 ELW


A.R. Craig, The book of the hand: or, The science of modern palmistry, chiefly according to the systems of d'Arpentigny and Desbarolles, with some account of the gipsies

London: Sampson Low, Son & Marston, 1867

             Reserve 398.372 CRA


Oliver Madox Hueffer, The book of witches

London: Eveleigh Nash, 1908

Baring-Gould Library 0493


Jules Bois, Le satanisme et la magie / avec une étude de J.-K.Huysmans

Paris: Chailley, 1896

With additional material by J.K. Huysmans

Reserve 398.38 BOI


Eliphas Lévi, Transcendental magic: its doctrine and ritual [A translation of Dogme et rituel de la haute magie… with a biographical preface by Arthur Edward Waite]

London: Redway, 1896

Reserve 398.38 LEV

Rites and Rituals

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Richard Payne Knight, A discourse on the worship of Priapus and its connection with the mystic theology of the ancients.

London: Privately Printed, 1894

Reserve 398.354 KNI


Hargrave Jennings, Phallicism celestial and terrestial, heathen and Christian: its connexion with the Rosicrucians and the Gnostics and its foundation in Buddhism, with an essay on Mystic anatomy.

London: George Redway, 1884

Reserve 291.212 JEN 

George Ryley Scott, Phallic worship: a history of sex and sex rites in relation to the religions of all races

London: T. Werner Laurie, 1941

Reserve 291.212 SCO

James Fergusson, Tree and serpent worship: or illustrations of mythology and art in India in the 1st and 4th centuries after Christ...

London: India Museum, 1873. 2 vols

Reserve 398.0954 FER/X 

Westcountry Witchcraft and folklore

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Box of 20th century research papers on Devon and West Country witches and witchcraft

These are from the archive of folklorist Theo Brown (1914-93), which also includes notes and research papers on Devon and Dartmoor legends, charms, superstitions, lycanthropy, spells, nature magic and folk healing, vampires, UFOs, ghosts, black dog lore, alternative medicine and fringe cultures etc. 

The witchcraft notes include typed and handwritten notes, presscuttings, correspondence, transcripts and photographs.

EUL MS 105/29


Sabine Baring-Gould, The book of were-wolves: being an account of a terrible superstition.

London: Smith, Elder, 1865

Baring-Gould Library, Folklore.10

Books on display in the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum

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Athanasius Kircher S.J., Ars magna lucis et umbrae: in X. libros digesta



The Cinema Museum also has a large collection of books, ephemera and artefacts on the history of magic lanterns, phantasmagoria, optical illusions, photography, Victorian magic and music hall performance, with many items relating to séances, Victorian occult activities, John Nevil Maskelyne and George Cooke’s magic shows at the House of Mysteries, the Egyptian Hall, rationalist ‘debunking’ of spiritualist sessions, and so on. These include a colour plate of ‘Pepper’s Ghost’:

Theodore Eckardt and A.H. Keane (trans.), Physics in pictures: the principal natural phenomena and appliances, described and illustrated by thirty coloured plates for ocular instruction in schools and families.

London: Edward Stanford, 1882

EXEBD 46147


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