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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Agrippa (Henry Cornelius Agrippa Von Nettesheim, 1486-1535) A noted German intellectual and mystic born in Cologne, Agrippa became a member of the court of Maximilian I, king of Germany, at an early age. Though otherwise an astute student, he became fascinated by an early form of numerology and the kabala, and he subsequently taught this idea at several universities. Strangely enough, he was opposed to astrology.


Cornelius Agrippa, a sixteenth-century mystic who had a great influence on the supernatural beliefs of his day.

      At age twenty-four, Agrippa wrote a three-volume book, On Occult Philosophy, which attempted to reconcile natural phenomena and occult lore. His concept of religion seems to have been an amalgam of Christian, neo-Platonic, and kabalistic ideas. The book was not published for another two decades, finally seeing print in 1531.
      One of Agrippa's genuine contributions to knowledge was the observation that a person's thoughts and attitudes can affect the physical condition of the body, a possible suggestion of what was to become the science of psychology.
      Endless claims of valor on the field of battle, intimate acquaintance with royalty, diplomatic appointments, court positions, and heroic military accomplishments were made by Agrippa, and some may even be true.


The kabalistic seal of Cornelius Agrippa.

      Tales of sorcery and general occult practices also surround the Agrippa legend. He is said to have used various methods of scrying and divination, to have called up spirits and demons, and to have a great black dog named Monsieur as a familiar. These rumors got him into major trouble with various ecclesiastic powers of his day, and he came into serious conflict with the Holy Inquisition. For this clash and for various debts he was imprisoned several times, but always managed to buy his way out.
      He died poverty-stricken at the age of forty-nine in Grenoble, France.
      See also Weyer, Johannes.



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