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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in grimoire

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Finding Fairies in Grimoires, part 1

Generally when we look for resources on fairies, particularly fairy Queens, we look (rightly) to folklore. There is however another more obscure source that can provide us some information and this is the later ceremonial magic grimoires. These texts are very different in nature and tone1 than other sources and we must keep that in mind as we look at them but they do give us a glimpse at a particularly English view of fairies from the 16th and 17th centuries. 

For our purposes today we will be looking at the material that addresses female fairies, which interestingly includes the only female beings found in the grimoire material2. When we look at the Grimoire material we find two main groupings of beings: Fairy Queens and the so-called Seven Sisters. These are all given names although the names vary in different manuscripts. The Seven Sisters can be bound to teach a person about herbs, nature, and provide a ring of invisibility (Harms, Clark, & Peterson, 2015). The queens can be called on for scrying, manifestation, sex magic, knowledge of nature, truth, and may also provide a ring of invisibility (Brock & Raiswell, 2018; Harm, Clark, & Peterson, 2015). All of the names given, however, are somewhat problematic in that they either can be found nowhere else outside the grimoire material or else they closely resemble common names or words.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Rún: A Facsimile of a Grimoire

I picked up a copy of this fascinating book from Strandagaldur (The Museum Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft). I love to see historical grimoires. Rún is particularly wonderful because it's a facsimile. Although the manuscript copied dates only from 1928, the material within it may date back as far as 1676. Two other copies of the material from around the same time exist, created in a belated attempt to gather traditional materials in the age of rising national identity. The early modern witch trials probably eliminated many more texts; it is interesting to note that like Finland and unlike the rest of Europe, men made up the greater part of those tried for the craft.

The book is full of cool information: first come the sets of runes, as the name suggests. There are alphabets for "black men" and "old women" and fools and "vagrants. There are magical staves from the simple to the complex for all kinds of magical purposes. Some look almost as complicated as vevés, others are more stark. As you might expect, there are lots of variations on the ægishjálmur.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Joy Challenge: Day Three

This is day three of an ongoing week-long challenge to seek joy. The beginning can be found here. I am sharing day three here because it involves a very simple, often overlooked, type of magic. All you need are Tarot cards, paper, pen, a magnet and a fridge.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

In the library of the University of South Carolina, you can peruse—with the help of a librarian and a pair of cotton gloves—a rare and marvelous text called Joshua Gordon’s Commonplace Book, which dates to 1784. Gordon’s little tome contains herbal remedies, recipes for treating livestock and human ailments, and a number of magical charms which call upon Christian concepts—the Trinity, the name of God, etc.—to do everything from revealing a thief to treating demonic torment to dealing with cuts, scrapes, and bruises. In 1820, John George Hohman produced a now (semi-)famous book called The Long Lost Friend, which outlined a number of cures from the Pennsylvania-Dutch tradition, as well as methods for magically gaining a dog’s loyalty, treating skin lesions with homemade salves, helping cherries maintain a longer shelf (or branch) life, and a method for guaranteeing a good catch while fishing which involves rose seed, mustard seed, and “the foot of a weasel.” Some houses in Berks, Lancaster, and York Counties, Pennsylvania would have had copies of Hohman’s book, and some would have manufactured their own collections of spells and recipes more in line with what Gordon did. In some places, the possession of a strange and mysterious publication known as The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses provided a person with magical powers by mere virtue of the book’s ownership—the spells within being an added bonus.

When I was training with a Gardenerian Outer Court (and I should emphasize that I never went beyond the dedicant phase, and so the inner workings of that tradition are not expressed here), I remember the concept of the Book of Shadows being explained to me as a sort of hand-copied and inherited text. Each new initiate would likely have copied down his or her own version of the High Priest and/or High Priestess’ book, and perhaps have added to it over time with new spells and rituals. Over time, the book could evolve and change, but the process would be slow and meticulous, growing with the tradition itself.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I read the repeat of this article in Witches & Pagans 29. I bought my copy of "The Long Lost Friend" off of e-bay. It was bundle
  • D. R. Bartlette
    D. R. Bartlette says #
    What a great post! I'm a bit of a journal junkie , and of course my grimoire is most special to me, so I've thought about it a lot
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Lovely, Cory. Thanks!

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