Grimoires: A History of Magic Books
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No books have been more feared than grimoires, and no books have been more valued and revered. In Grimoires: A History of Magic Books, Owen Davies illuminates the many fascinating forms these recondite books have taken and exactly what these books held. At their most benign, these repositories of forbidden knowledge revealed how to make powerful talismans and protective amulets, and provided charms and conjurations for healing illness, finding love, and warding off evil. But other books promised the power to control innocent victims, even to call up the devil. Davies traces the history of this remarkably resilient and adaptable genre, from the ancient Middle East to modern America, offering a new perspective on the fundamental developments of western civilization over the past two thousand years. Grimoires shows the influence magic and magical writing has had on the cultures of the world, richly demonstrating the role they have played in the spread of Christianity, the growth of literacy, and the influence of western traditions from colonial times to the present.
saying, ‘You’re lying in your throat’ when the priest says, ‘May the Lord be with you,’ as she thinks. There was also a conjuration which included the names of many saints, mixed with several names of demons.123 The mistress of a French conjuring monk testiWed that she had heard him loudly reciting passages from a grimoire, and on one occasion she accompanied him to a hill where he undressed and disappeared behind a bush with his magic books for an hour. She could not tell what he was up to. As
Piemontese. First printed in Italian and Latin in the 1550s, and obviously created to build on the success of Albertus, the preface told how Piemontese, a Wctional but not unrealistic archetype of the Renaissance occult scholar, had gathered his secrets of medicine and nature from his travels across Italy and the Middle East. Over the next two centuries various editions appeared in English, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, and Polish.45 Amongst these false and Wctional authors the work of the very
contents were not necessarily Kabbalistic. They usually referred to the angels, and contained biblical quotes, pentacles, hexagrams, zahlenquadrats or magic squares, and pentagrams. Here is one brief example that was to be written on parchment in order to win favour: Hasdiel at my right, Haniel at my left, Rahmiel at my head, angels, let me Wnd favour and grace before all men, great and small, and before all of whom I have need, in the name of Yah Yah Yah Yau Yau Yau Yah Zebaot. Amen Amen Amen
the secular and religious censors fought a losing battle. Nowhere was this more evident than in France and its genre of chapbooks known as the bibliothe`que bleue.6 During the Wrst half of the eighteenth century around one million copies of these cheap publications were being produced a year. They encompassed a huge range of sanctioned and illicit subjects. Amongst the romances, practical guides to gardening and cooking, lives of the saints, and pious reXections, we Wnd the darkest secrets of
for Spanish seekers of magical knowledge. In 1740 a shoemaker named Andres Jaso visited the town and consulted a Jewish magician in order to learn how to conjure up familiars or demons that would aid his personal enrichment. He naturally returned disappointed, and subsequently went to Geneva on the same quest.71 By the mid-eighteenth century the Petit Albert was already inXuential amongst cunning-folk in southwestern France. In 1742 a copy was conWscated along with a book of exorcisms and