Invisibility Spell Episode Bibliography


Harry Potter don’t need no Egyptian deities

The first episode of the “Magic/Science/Religion” series on YouTube features my favorite invisibility spell! I’ve loved this spell since I discovered it in my first semester of graduate school. It is just so bizarre. Why would an ancient person need to turn invisible? How did they think this actually worked? Did anyone actually try it?

Well believe it or not, at least a few scholars have actually made invisibility spells their main focus. The book where I got most of my research on this topic is: Richard Phillip’s In Pursuit of Invisibility: Ritual Texts from Late Roman Egypt (2009). Now this is very much a scholar’s book. Unless you know anything about Coptic or papyrology, you might get lost in the jargon. But it might be useful for anyone writing a research paper on invisibility!

I also referenced Sarah Iles Johnston’s book The Restless Dead. Again, this is an academic book, but it is somewhat more accessible by non-scholar audiences. It covers how Greek society thought about the dead and speaks a little bit to magical practices involving the dead.


Betz, Hans Dieter. The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, Including the Demotic Spells, Vol 1. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Johnston, Sarah Iles. The Restless Dead. Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press. 1999.

Phillips, Richard. In Pursuit of Invisibility: Ritual Texts from Late Roman Egypt. American Studies in Papyrology. 2009.

Andrew Henry is a PhD student in early Christianity at Boston University. His research focuses on the popular and domestic religion of the eastern Mediterranean, particularly the magico-religious rituals deployed to harness and direct ritual power.

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