Barbarous Names

Barbarous names are Corrupted names of deities used in magical Invocations and Evocations. Barbarous names sound like the originals and carry the same magical force.

Barbarous names have been used since ancient times, especially in incantat ions in which the original language was not understood.

Some barbarous names originated in Hellenistic Egyptian magic. An example of barbarous names comes from a Graeco–Egyptian magical text called the Harris Magical Papyrus:

Adiro–Adisana! Adirogaha–Adisana. Samoui–Matemou– Adisana! Samou–Akemoui–Adisana! Samou–deka! Arina–Adisana! Samou–dekabana–adisana! Samou–tsakarouza– Adisana! Dou–Ouaro–Hasa! Kina! Hama! (Pause.) Senefta–Bathet Satitaoui–Anrohakatha–Sati–taoui! Nauouibairo–Rou! Haari!

Barbarous names were integrated into Jewish, Hellenistic, Gnostic Essene, and Christian lore and magic. They acquired importance in the Western magical tradition, appearing in the enochian magic of John Dee and Edward Kelly.

Barbarous names were especially emphasized by Aleister Crowley for their power to raise the consciousness of the magician in performing a rit ual . Crowley said that “long strings of formidable words which roar and moan through so many conjurations have a real effect in exalting the consciousness of the magician to the proper pitch. . . .”

Further Reading:

  • Crowley, Aleister. Magic in Theory and Practice. 1929. Reprint, New York: Dover Publications, 1976.


The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.

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