On the Shelf – The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, Part 3

I wanted to quickly handle a couple of statements from the introduction to Peterson’s version of the Sixth and Seventh Books.  One I’d like to go over just because I think it’s a neat piece of historical insight:

Gerald Gardner, arguably the founder of modern Wicca, owned a copy of the de Laurence edition (1930).

Not that I’ve seen anything in Wicca reminiscent of the Sixth and Seventh Books, but it’s a nice piece of context nonetheless.

The second highlights one of the weaknesses with the introduction, which is a lack of attention to the German language editions.  Admittedly, this is an area that I know little about myself, and about which even less is known given that the Nazis might have destroyed many copies, but it seems there’s quite a vibrant tradition of Moses-books over in Germany that might be quite illuminating.  In fact, it leads to what seems to have been a gaffe when Peterson describes the book’s first appearance.:

The earliest mention of it seems to be in a 1734 edition edited by Peter Hammer.

This is attributed to Dehn’s edition of Abramelin in German, and I can’t find a corresponding reference to this in my skimming.  It’s something of an oddity to begin with, as I’m not sure why one would go to Dehn for the background on a non-Abramelin publication.

As it happens, I was able to track down several references to a 1734 book published by Peter Hammer in Cologne in  Stephan Bachter’s dissertation and elsewhere which does, indeed, include a version of the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses.  The trouble is, Bachter and most other authorities consider the “Peter Hammer” who was supposedly publishing books in the early eighteenth century to be none other than the mid-nineteenth century publisher Johann Scheible who we just discussed, who might have had some interest in creating a fictional imprint to sell his books.  Perhaps Peterson has a good reason to think otherwise, but he hasn’t shared it with the readers if this is so.

For anyone who’s wondering, “So, smart guy, when did the first edition of the Sixth and Seventh Books appear?”, the first generally accepted reference was in an advertisement in the Leipzig magazine Allgemeinen Litterarischen Anzeiger for March 28, 1797, in which the book was sold for 10 Reichstalers on a list with dozens of others.  It was common around that time for forgers to create “ancient” works of magic from bits and pieces of others and sell them to collectors, and this was likely the origin of the Books of Moses.

But what books did its component parts come from?  We’ll look at that next Moses post.

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Published in: on May 25, 2008 at 12:55 am  Comments (11)  

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for the note on Hammer – I had a suspicion that the 1725 date on the Sammlung might have been a bit fishy!

  2. Oh, it was – there were actually dates on the ads for other books in the back! It’s another reason for examining the books themselves.

  3. Thanks for your even-handed comments. I am aware that some have suggested that Scheible invented the Hammer imprint. In retrospect I should have footnoted it. I’ll have to reconsider the question more seriously. Perhaps I was mislead by Dehn, but he is a friend, and a specialist in antiquarian books, and especially German ones. In the intro to his German edition he explains the connection, namely, that the Hammer 6/7Moses contains excerpts from Abramelin. (Unfortunately, the intro to Dehn’s English edition only runs 7 pages, but the intro to his German edition is much longer (45 pages) and quite entertaining. Scheible of course reprinted a vast number of esoteric texts, and could have used the Hammer imprint as a misdirection as Wanderer (Bachter’s reference) suggested. I will have to try to track down Wanderer’s dissertation to see how solid his evidence is. Of course there are probably more loose ends in 6/7Moses than in Romanusbuchlein, and Spamer spent a lifetime editing that (it ended up being published posthumously IIRC).

  4. […] the Shelf – The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, Part 4 Joe Peterson writes in response to my discussion of his Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, in which I state uncertainty that the […]

  5. Dear Joe

    There is no “Hammer 6/7 Moses”. I listed the Hammer Prints on magic in “on the shelf – 6/7 Mosis – Part 4”. There are different Mosis texts in “Handschriftliche Schätze” and “Sammlung der grössten Geheimnisse” and additionally there is a part of the Abramelin text – published earlier in the “Hammer Abramelin of 1725” – with the title “Geheime Kunst-Schule magischer Wunder-Kräfte”, that is omitted by Mather’s Abramelin Ed..
    Wanderer relates to “Die falschen und fingirten Druckorte” by Emil Weller http://books.google.ch/books?id=L_0tAAAAIAAJ but states, that Weller is not allways right with his attribution of pseudonyms.

  6. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Darkly!!

  7. I have a old German copy with a date 1725 Peter hammer-but with ads in the book it is a later reprint-I I am looking for any information on this book I purchased at an estate sale: it has black wax? any info or an email to send pictures? I do want to sell it–

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