On the Shelf – The Consecrated Little Book of Black Venus, Part 3

Last time, we examined the contents of the Tuba Veneris itself.  This time, we’ll be turning to the commentary material in the Waning Moon Publications edition.  How does it illuminate the contents of the book?

First, I must speak on the supplementary material by Teresa Burns and Vincent Bridges.  Their commentaries drawing on respected authorities (such as Margaret Murray) and show detailed use of the historical record (John Dee might have joined the Familists because he quickly married a third wife whose family had a large herb garden).  Their essays bring surprise after surprise, postulating new and shocking revelations:

Take a leap for a moment, and consider this hypothesis:  what if the “Horn of Venus” embodies some remnant of a much older ritual, hearkening back to a 12th century or earlier synthesis of heretical Christianity, Kabbalah, Sufism, and indigenous Goddess religion?

One should certainly reflect on this interesting possibility of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Pagan doctrines coming together to inform this grimoire.  It certainly would suggest a degree of cooperation not hitherto known between the four faiths, and thus would be historically significant if proven.

Now, I can’t say that I completed these commentaries, as I keep stopping at the section which postulates that the sigils from the 1575 work the Arbatel derive from Neolithic rock art.  Nonetheless, I justify my failure to finish using Bridges and Burns’ own scholastic techniques:  if they can bypass most of the Tuba Veneris, save for a four-line introduction and a few sigils, to make their analysis, then I can certainly set aside their essays and move on to other aspects of the book.

The other essay here is by author and Papers commentator Phil Legard.  Sad to say, Phil is one of those pedantic scholars unable to see beyond detailed comparisons of contemporary sources, such as Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy and the Magical Calendar, leading to boring revelations about how the book fits into the traditions of learned and grimoire magic, including such works as the Magia Ordinis which we’ve discussed before.  He does engage in speculation here and there, but always unhelpfully pointing out when he does so.  Clearly the fact that he arrives at quite different conclusions about the book’s origin and history than the other contributors should be troubling.  I can only hope that Phil will expand his horizons to more interesting, and therefore historically significant, conclusions.  Maybe his next work will include more interesting possibilities, such as John Dee teaming up with a savate-trained Golem to fight dastardly Spaniards and their fire-breathing Aztec sorcerer minions to clean up the streets of Prague.

As I’ve said, much of this is available online, so you can get a taste for it beforehand.  Nonetheless, this is a beautiful book that is an important contribution to grimoire scholarship.

Published in: on July 7, 2008 at 5:30 pm  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “Maybe his next work will include more interesting possibilities, such as John Dee teaming up with a savate-trained Golem to fight dastardly Spaniards and their fire-breathing Aztec sorcerer minions to clean up the streets of Prague.”

    I call dibs on that for a GURPS campaign… so long as you can play cyberneticly enhanced faerie trying to save the world from H.G. Wells Martians.

  2. Aha, this is where your Aztec obsession comes from!

  3. Author… scholar… Dan, you flatter me. Like our man HPL, I’m just an enthusiastic amateur trying to work as conscientiously and dilligently with the materials to hand. I’d like to point out that my writing, initially intended as an appendix to the online version was significantly rewritten and expanded for this printed edition. I’m not really happy with what is presented on the JWMT site, which is essentially a hastily expanded version of an old post made to the VMs mailing list circa 2000.

    In the year or so that has elapsed since writing the piece for Waning Moon I’ve had time to read around some areas of the text in more detail, and also spent some messy and potentially hazardous hours playing with a mordent of green copper sulphate, all of which I hope will be recounted in a future edition of the work…

  4. – let me also add that the assembly of materials, typography and general execution of the work is top-notch; sympathetic to the matters dscussed in the grimoire and generally a very pleasing object in itself. Undoubtedly one the nicest hand-bound works on my bookshelf.

  5. Phil,

    I’ll certainly look forward to the expanded edition. Especially if you make the Spaniards pirates.

  6. Any one ever notice the sigals in the black venus looks very much like the sigals of the 50 names of marduk in the simon necronomicon?
    Did “Simon” ever see a copy ?
    Or is it just a coincidence.

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