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 Swedenborg.
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 He left behind a still-unpublished work on astrology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.
Sources
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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