The medieval period has left us a good number of manuscripts and grimoires, of formulas full of strange practices and of recipes that are as fantastic the one as the others; but also, and above all, a secular esoteric knowledge, which has been transmitted by occultists and magicians.
Over time, these grimoires have gained popularity among all practitioners, occultists, magicians, and sorcerers, depending on the promising results that ensure those who know how to use rituals correctly.
At the head of all these manuscripts are the fabulous Albertos, attributed to a Dominican monk; the Great Alberto and the Little Albert, the Red Dragon, also known by the name of Great Grimoire, the mythical Black Dragon, Grimoire of Pope Honorius, Enchiridion of Pope Leo III, Clavicles of Solomon and many others, not forgetting mention the long contribution of Celtic and Druidic practices.
Medieval magic is, in its own way, the science of good and evil; is an esoteric means of manipulating and controlling these opposing forces. In former times – and owing fundamentally to the enormous power of the Church – the world was divided into two very different parts: heaven and hell; the good ones who were in the service of God, and the bad ones who were under the power of the Prince of Darkness. This cosmogony could not be more dualistic, and the angels, opposed to the demons, fought relentlessly for Lucifer’s purposes.
If one considers this way of thinking, one can understand why the abundant medieval grimoires are filled with innumerable rituals of evocation, in order to call and urge the Prince of Darkness and his hosts, to demand of such beings the riches materials and all the treasures of this world, in the name of the Almighty God. The occultists already knew in those days the secret that, through the personalization of the Eternal Source of Light and Love, could subdue the most irreducible rebel spirits.
In light of this and taking a little perspective as we approach the practices that were in progress in those times, it is understood that any person suspected of being linked to witchcraft and therefore having trade with the devil, was burned alive. But what still surprises us most, since it is something that is unknown, is that most of these hidden manuscripts were the work of priests, monks, and men of the Church. However, medieval Catholicism – always concerned with maintaining its influence and power over the people – taught that anything outside the established norms could only be the work of the devil.
Be that as it may, in the great majority of cases it was never a question of real witches, but of simple people living in solitude, far from society and very often possessing great knowledge. Nowadays, they are given the name of herbalists, astrologers and so on.