On the Shelf – The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, Part 5

I’d encourage people to read some of the excellent comments on our last Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses post, which go a great deal into the background of Johann Scheible and the Books of Moses.  It’s now appearing as if the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses may indeed date post-1797.

At the same time, we shouldn’t get too caught up on dating particular titles when it comes to grimoires.  It’s not uncommon for the same book to have vastly different titles, as my own small excursion proves, or for material from older works to be placed in a new form.  One of the major points of Peterson’s new edition is that some of the content can be traced to much earlier sources.

The first of these is a Latin manuscript called the Liber Razielis, possibly a distant variant of the more famous Sefer Raziel that circulated among Jewish mystics.  This takes at least some of the incantations in the work back to the 13th century.   I’d speak more about this topic, but Peterson doesn’t go into too great detail on the exact parallels, and I’m having some trouble with flipping back and forth between the two sections and comparing them.  There’s definitely some parallels with the later Semiphoras and Schemhamphorasch, but I’m curious as to those between Razielis and the main Moses text that he suggests.  Some footnotes highlighting specific parallels would be of assistance here.

The second is a more recent work, the Verus Jesuitarum Libellus, that Scheible also published.  This book, attributed to those crafty Jesuits, concentrates on summoning up spirits to plumb the depths of the ocean to bring up millions of gold coins from the depths.  (Given the book’s lack of popularity, I’m going to assume this didn’t work so well.)  Peterson provides an appendix with some interesting parallels, such as the following from the VJL:

Aphriel, Diefriel, Zada, Zadai, Lamabo, Lamogella…

And from the Books of Moses:

Abriel, Fibriel, Zada, Zaday, Zarabo, Laragola…

He goes on to say that the VJL is likely the origin of these incantations in the Books of Moses based on some mistakes that Moses makes.  Some other differences exist, so I’m not quite sure they have a father-son relationship – I’m rooting for uncle-nephew myself.  Nonetheless, it’s an important discovery.

At any rate, this is a really great book, and I think those who miss out on it will be greatly disappointed in years to come.  Buy it, or ask your local library to do so.  (Any librarians might want to put this in a closed collection, though – this one will sprout legs quickly.)

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Published in: on June 6, 2008 at 4:00 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Interesting to read about the Jesuits again. I’ve often felt that VJL was more ‘libelous’ than ‘libellus’ – a tract written with the explicit purpose of defaming the Jesuits. Germany seems to have a lengthy and intense anti-Jesuit tradition – could the authors of tracts such as this and the Kornritter/Herpentil texts have been Lutherans who knew all too well that magic was a disreputable pastime and wrote their books with more a religious/politcal motive than a magical one? (In the case of manuscripts: a form of ‘viral’ propaganda?!) I suppose you could argue both ways since the motives of the grimoire-makers always seem questionable however you approach them.

    Anyway, thanks for this series of posts – I’ll definitely be picking this book up.

  2. Phil,

    I think that it has to do with broader issues over the rhetoric of the Reformation. The Protestants attempted to re-define much of Catholic practice in terms of “empty ceremony” and “magic.” Thus, when magical manuscripts appeared, they would be slotted into this discourse by attributing them to the Jesuits, stating that they came from a monastery, etc.

  3. Agreed, the perceived influence of the Jesuits within the Catholic church would have made them a prime target for such attributions (IMO).

    Speaking of grimoire writers and publishers I meant to send you this link:
    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/17107/17107-h/17107-h.htm
    Letter XII has a first hand account of buying a copy of Le Dragon Rouge in the 19C.

  4. Agreed, the perceived influence of the Jesuits within the Catholic church would have made them a prime target for such attributions (IMO).

    Speaking of grimoire writers and publishers I meant to send you this link:
    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/17107/17107-h/17107-h.htm
    Letter XII has a first hand account of buying a copy of Le Dragon Rouge in the 19C.

    (Hmm, this didn’t submit first time – forgive me if it duplicates!)


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