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Francis Barrett
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Francis Barrett

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Barrett on the Lunar Mansions
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There is in Man the power and apprehension of all divination, and wonderful things, seeing we have a complete system in ourselves, therefore we are called Microcosm or little world, for we carry a heaven in ourselves from our beginning...
Francis Barrett

The Magus
Barrett and Joseph Smith


While the onsent of the Enlightenment at the beginning of the Eighteenth Century meant the end of the serious study of astrology, alchemy and magic a few brave scholars, including Francis Barrett, carried on the occult traditions of the Renaissance.
Little is known of Barrett's early life, but he appears to have been born in London between 1770 and 1780. He made several ill-fated attempts at balloon ascents in the Summer and Fall of 1802, but is best known as the author, or more accurately, the compiler, of the Magus.
Barrett also appears to have formed a school of occult studies. The following advertisement appears in The Magus,

"The Author of this work respectfully informs those who are curious in the studies of Art and Nature, especially Natural and Occult Philosophy, Chemistry, Astrology, &c.&c. that, having been indefatigable in his researches into those sublime Sciences, of which he has treated at large in this Book, that he gives private instructions and lectures upon any of the above-mentioned Sciences; in the course of which he will discover many curious and rare experiments. Those who become Students will be initiated into the choicest operations of Natural Philosophy, Natural Magic, the Cabala, Chemistry, the Talismanic Art, Hermetic Philosophy, Astrology, Physiognomy, &c.&c. Likewise they will acquire the knowledge of tthe Rites, Mysteries, Ceremonies, and Principles of the Ancient Philosophers, Magi, Cabalists, Adepts &c...."
The Magus Book II, page 140.
Barrett ends by saying that, "Those that feel themselves thoroughly disposed to enter upon such a course of studies...may speak with the Author upon the subject, at any time between the hours of Eleven and Two o'clock at 99 Norton Street, Mary-le-Bonne." The Magus Book II, page 140.
It is possible to trace Barrett's influence through his student John Parkins who practiced as a magician and cunning man in Lincolnshire, England in the early 19th century. In a 1802 manuscript entitled, Directions for the Invocations of Spirits, Parkins is mentioned as a pupil of Barrett. Parkins appears to have practiced horary astrology, crystal gazing, geomancy, herbal medicine, the construction of astrological talismans and ceremonial magic. Thus, through the efforts of a few studious and determined practitioners the traditional occult arts and sciences continued despite the deleterious effects of the "Enlightenment".

The Magus

Barret is best known for authoring or more accurately, for compiling the Magus. Published in London in 1801 it consists of selections from Cornelius Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy, the Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy attributed to Agrippa and the Robert Turner's 1655 translation of the Heptameron of Peter of Abano. Barrett made a few modifications and modernized the spelling and syntax of these selections.
Francis Barrett's Jupiter Talisman
Nevertheless, as the modern scholar of religion and magic, D. Michael Quinn notes the Magus had a great influence despite only one printing,

"Barrett's book was not reprinted until 1875. Nonetheless, Francis King's study of the Western tradition of magic noted that the first edition of the Magus, 'played an important part in the English revival of magic'. Antoine Faivre has also emphasized Barrett's book in the general European revival of magic during the first decades of the 1800's."

D. Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View (Signature, 1998) page 21.
Here is a selection from the Magus on the Lunar Mansions which closely follows that of Cornelius Agrippa.

Barrett and Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith's Jupiter Talisman
Barret's book also played a significant role in one of the most interesting discoveries and subsequent controversies involving Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons or Church of Latter Day Saints.
In 1974 Dr. Reed C. Durham, a Mormon and noted scholar of Mormon history gave a lecture entitled, "Is there no help for the Widow's Son?". Durham revealed a medal worn by Joseph Smith and long thought to be a Masonic emblem was, in fact, a talisman of Jupiter. Smith's talisman appears to left.
What is interesting to note is that Smith's Jupiter talisman is almost identical to the example given by Barrett above and to the right. This format is not provided in either Agrippa's Latin original nor the English translation of 1651 by John Freake. The illustration in the English translation appears below to right. Note the break in the seal which seems to be a printer's error and does not appear in the Latin original though it is faithfully copied in the Magus and Smith's talisman.
Renaissance Astrology offers authentic Joseph Smith Jupiter Talismans cast, not only with the same design, but with the appropriate astrological timing.
1651 J.F. translation Jupiter seal
Not surprisingly this discovery caused an immense amount of controversy as opponents of Mormonism seized on it to attack the LDS Church with charges of occultism and magic and LDS adherents attempted to undermine the significance and provenance of the talisman. As a practitioner of occult philosophy I had a somewhat different reaction to the talisman. Rather than seeing the use of magic and astrology as evidence against Joseph Smith I had greater respect for him and the coherence of his world view. Here are some additional articles on Joseph Smith and esotericism by Lance Owen, Joseph Smith: America's Hermetic Prophet and Joseph Smith and Kabbalah: The Occult Connection-Part 1 , Joseph Smith and Kabbalah: The Occult Connection-Part 2 , Joseph Smith and Kabbalah: The Occult Connection-Part 3 .
That being said I have no desire to be drawn into the battle that still rages concerning Joseph Smith, occult philosophy and the Church of Latter Day Saints. My interest here is in the diffusion and survival of talismanic magic after the Enlightenment.


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