Christian, Paul (1811-1877)

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Christian, Paul (1811-1877)

Pseudonym of Jean Baptiste Pitois, who wrote The History and Practice of Magic, first published in France in 1870. He was born May 15, 1811, at Remiremont, France. His family wanted him to become a priest and allowed him to be raised in a monastic community. However, he eventually decided against the priesthood, and as a young man moved to Paris, where he became the associate of Charles Nodier, one of the leading literary lights of the romantic movement, which was then emerging on the Continent. Nodier's interest in the occult transferred to Pitois.

Pitois became a journalist and wrote largely under the pen name Paul Christian. He cowrote Historic Paris: Walks in the Streets of Paris (1837-1840), which was his first book, with Nodier. It was followed by his Studies of the Paris Revolution (1839). That same year he was appointed librarian of the Ministry of Public Education. Working with Nodier through the mass of uncataloged material opened up a new level of interest in the occult, although it was not manifested for years. Meanwhile, he took his turn in the French army (Algiers, 1843-44) and wrote several historical texts. His most important were the History of the Terrors (1853) and the multivolume Heroes of Christianity (1853-57). A hint of what was to come appeared in 1844 with his Stories of the Marvelous from All Times and Lands.

Pitois had read about occultism and developed a strong anticlerical stance. During his life, many Eastern texts had been translated into French, as had the works of Emanuel Sweden-borg. In 1859 Pitois turned his attention to writing Historie de la Magie, du monde Surnaturel et de la fatalité a travers les Temps et les Peuples (1870). Carefully written so as not to offend his largely Catholic audience, it immediately became popular public reading. It surveyed the whole of the occult, explaining each element, and provided a history of occult practice in the West from ancient times.

Pitois wrote one additional book, The History of the War with Prussia and of the Two Sieges of Paris, 1870-71 (1872-73). His health declined through the 1870s, and he died at Lyons on July 12, 1877. He left behind a still-unpublished work on astrology that reportedly contains numerous allusions to contemporary events as proof of the value of the horoscope.


Christian, Paul [Jean Baptiste Pitois]. Historie de la Magie, du monde Surnaturel et de la fatalité a travers les Temps et les Peuples. 1870. Translated by Ross Nichols as The History and Practice of Magic. New York: Citadel Press, 1969.

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Christian, Paul (1811-1877)

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