Drawing on his own private collection of grimoires and magical manuscripts as well as his privileged access to the rare book archives of major European universities, Claude Lecouteux offers an extensive study of ancient books of magic and the ways the knowledge within them was kept secret for centuries through symbols, codes, secret alphabets, and Kabbalistic words. Touching on both white and black magical practices, he explains the basic principles of medieval magic, including the doctrine of names and signatures, mastery of the power of images, and the laws of sympathy and contagion. He gives an overview of magic in the Western Mystery tradition, emphasizing both lesser-known magicians such as Trithemus and Peter of Apono and famous ones like Albertus Magnus and Hermes Trismegistus. Creating a universal grimoire, Lecouteux provides exact reproductions of secret magical alphabets, symbols, and glyphs with instructions for their use as well as an illustrated collection of annotated spells, rituals, and talismans for numerous applications including amorous magic, healing magic, and protection rites. The author also examines the folk magic that resulted when the high magic of the medieval grimoires melded with the preexisting pagan magic of ancient Europe.