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Barrett, an Englishman, claimed himself to be a student of chemistry, metaphysics, and natural occult philosophy. He was an extreme eccentric who gave lessons in the magical arts in his apartment and fastidiously translating the Kabbalah and other ancient texts into English.
He vigorously wanted with great enthusiasm to revive interest in the occult arts. While he might have influenced the English occult novelist, Bulwer-Lytton, but "The Magus" gained little notice until it influenced Eliphas Levi.
"The Magus" dealt with the natural magic of herbs and stones, magnetism; talismanic magic; alchemy alchemy and other means of creating the philosopher's stone; Philosopher's Stone, numerology; the elements; and biographies of famous adepts from history.
When writing about witches Barrett stated that he did not believe that their power to torment or kill by enchantment, or touch or wax effigy came from Satan. He claimed if the Devil wanted to kill a man guilty of deadly sin, he did not need a with as an intermediary.
Barrett's belief in magical power might be summed up this way: The magical power is in the inward or inner man. A certain proportion of the inner man longs for the external in all things. When the person is in the appropriate disposition an appropriate between man and object can be attained.
"The Magus" also served as a advertizing tool. In it Barrett sought interested people wanting to help form his magic circle. It is uncertain whether he accomplished this goal, but the British historian Montague Summers claims Barrett did, and turned Cambridge into a center for magic. A.G.H.