Albertus Magnus (c.1193— November 15, 1280) - Witchcraft Hall of Fame

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

Albertus Magnus (c.1193— November 15, 1280)
Witchcraft Hall of Fame

Albertus Magnus, Count of Bollstädt, Dominican bishop, alchemist, astrologer, philosopher, scholar, saint, and alleged master magus was born in Lauingen, Swabia to a wealthy family. His date of birth is unknown; various birth years are suggested, as early as 1193 to as late as 1206. (Albertus Magnus indicates Albert the Great. He is also known as Albertus of Cologne.)

Albertus joined the Dominicans, which some perceive as lending him safety in an era when others who shared his reputation and activities were persecuted. He taught at various German universities and went to Paris in 1245 where he attained a great reputation as a scholar. He studied Arabic, Aristotelian, Jewish, and Neo-Platonic philosophy, as well as botany, medicine, and zoology. He was appointed Bishop of Ratisbon in 1260. In 1262, he taught at the University of Cologne, lecturing on Aristotle and Plato (Pagan philosophers, somewhat racy at the time).

Rumors of his magical activities may be why it took so long for him to be made a saint: canonized in 1932, the Vatican initially denied that Albertus had any interest in alchemy and suggested that alchemical treatises attributed to him were forgeries. However, since then, based on analysis of various manuscripts written in what is conclusively his hand, it is now generally acknowledged that he was at least an alchemist, if not also a master magician too.

Words of wisdom from Albertus Magnus include, “The alchemist must be silent and discreet. To no one should he reveal the results of his operations” and “Avoid all contact with princes and rulers.”

Albertus publicly asserted that he did not believe knowledge of magic was harmful. (This was an embarrassment to later writers.) He is acknowledged as the founder of what is now called “planetary magic.” Albertus considered astrology to be the basis for all divination and was a firm believer in the power of engraved gems, crafted to astrological specifications.

Five alchemical treatises and two grimoires (Le Grand Albert and Le Petit Albert) are attributed to him (see BOOKS: Grimoires). These were published in the sixteenth century and deal with alchemy, astrology, and the properties of minerals and plants.