It is the custom of some writers upon the occult, notably the late Montague Summers, to lump together indifferently both witchcraft and ceremonial magic, and to label them both as ‘devil worship.

This is completely misleading.

The magic of the grimoires, such as the Key of Solomon, the Lemegeton, the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, etc., is something entirely different from the old pagan traditions of witchcraft.

Ceremonial magic is the magic of learned men, and even of priests.

It has a strongly religious tinge, of both Christianity and Judaism, and has mostly been derived from the Hebrew Qabalah and given a Christian veneer.

Its method of working is to control the powers of nature, which are conceived of as being either angelic or demonic, by the powerful Divine Names which form the words of conjuration.

Such words, for instance, as Agla, Adonai, Tetragrammaton, Sabaoth, Anaphaxeton, Primeumaton, Sother, and Athanatos; words which are a mixture of Hebrew and Greek, and are all names of God.


Its instructions are usually complicated and exacting, and require the magician to purify himself by fasting, taking baths, and dressing in clean and consecrated robes before he enters the magic circle.

He uses pentacles and consecrated tools, as does the witch, but all of a more elaborate kind.

He prays at length, in the forms of either Judaism or Christianity, for power to perform this magical operation, by compelling the spirits of either heaven or hell to do his bidding.


The witch’s method of proceeding is simpler and more direct.

In fact, the people who practiced witchcraft could be and often were illiterate ; while the ceremonial magician had to be more or less a ‘learned clerk’.

His arts were officially forbidden by the Church, but not in practice with such severity as those of the witch; because the witch was a pagan heretic, while the ceremonial magician, even when he set out to evoke demons, considered himself to be within the Church’s pale.

He would indignantly deny that he was a Satanist or a devil worshipper.

Indeed, the alleged cult of Satanism is, in the writer’s opinion, something of fairly modern and mainly literary origin.

The Black Magic novels of  Dennis Wheatley, while first-rate entertainment as imaginative thrillers bear little relationship to the real traditional practices of either ceremonial magicians or witches.


The witch’s origins and practices go back to the dawn of time.