On the Shelf Review – A Complete Book of Magic Science, Part 2

Last time we started our discussion of A Complete Book of Magic Science, concentrating particularly on its links to the Secret Grimoire of Turiel.  This time, we arrive at this manuscript, which comes from the library of Frederick Hockley.

Hockley (1808-1885) was an accountant who was well known in his time in spiritualist circles.  He carried on his own conversations with spirits and sometimes wrote his colleagues in the field to warn them that his spirits had told him that theirs were up to no good, which likely earned him few friends.  What was less known in his time was his extensive collection of copied magical manuscripts.  These, and his correspondence with other occultists from the period, established him as one of the most important figures in the nineteenth century English occult scene (and that’s saying a great deal).  If you want to read more about Hockley, I recommend the brief notes in Howe’s article on fringe Masonry, or for those who want more detail, a book called The Rosicrucian Seer that collects his writings on magic.

A Complete Book of Magic Science is not mentioned in that work – or is it?  In the magical manuscripts listed in the book, I noticed the following:

1839  Book of True Magic Science, formerly in the possession of Dr Barlow and by him defaced.  Given to my by Mr. Jms. Palmer.

Is this the same work?  The Rosicrucian Seer lists it as being lost, so it is difficult to tell.

As to the meat of the work, Hockley’s work follows Turiel very closely.  Though Turiel is clearly not copied from the other, it is clear they come from the same tradition.  That does not mean that Science does not make mistakes or leave out material that Turiel includes, but overall it has a smaller number of errors and misinterpretations.  Dietrich Bergman, the editor, has made extensive notes on the parallels between the two books near the end.

The book also has a number of beautiful full-color plates depicting various seals of spirits and the like.  One notable addition not present in Turiel, which I do not recall being mentioned in the text, is the magic circle included with the text for enclosing the magician and the spirit.  This one has a number of interesting parallels to other magic circles elsewhere, and is certainly of interest.

So, overall, this work is certainly worth it for anyone interested in mid-nineteenth century occult practices or grimoires in general.

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Published in: on July 17, 2008 at 10:59 pm  Comments (10)  

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  1. In his introduction to the present book Dietrich Bergman appears to have overlooked a significant point. In a letter to Francis G. Irwin dated 18 June 1874 Hockley mentions several items listed in a catalogue (whether a bookseller’s or auctioneer’s catalogue I have not been able to ascertain) amongst which is the following:
    ‘The Complete Book of Magic Science is I presume from its title one of my particular babes for at Denley’s suggestion I made up the MS from other sources & made him several copies one after another.’
    (reproduced in John Hamill (ed.) ‘The Rosicrucian Seer’ (Wellingborough: The Aquarian Press, 1986), p. 60).
    Hockley offers no indication of what the ‘other sources’ might have been, but his use of the plural is interesting in view of the comparisons made with Turiel. Further, his drafting of the book at the suggestion of John Denley (d. 1842) and the preparation of copies for him places the likely period of composition to the 1820s, or at a push 1830s (I believe Denley had run down his business before the end of that decade), rather than the mid-nineteenth century.

    Hockley did not possess a copy of the ‘Complete Book of Magic Science’ by the time of his death. He did however hold on to the ‘Book of True Magic Science’ which is described as ‘a curious old MS’ on vellum; 1839 is probably the date of Hockley’s acquisition of the manuscript, in which case it may not have been a source for the ‘Complete Book…’ But unless the MS comes to light I can’t be absolutely certain.

  2. Alan – very interesting. I was a bit dissapointed by the content of this book, having seen images in Manly P Hall’s Secret Teachings of All Ages (p.102-103) claiming to be from The Complete Book of Magic Science. The magic circle of which is extremely similar to those in A Discovery of Witchcraft XV. Coupled with the similarities in the conjurations in Book of Magic Science/Turiel and Discovery (which I pointed out in an earlier post) I was very excited by this prospect of this work… and a bit disappointed to find there was not all that much difference between it and Turiel.

    Dan pointed out to me that Hall’s bibliography cites this particular Book of Magic Science as being a ms. in the British Library. Unfortunately no useful information like a collection and number is given. Maybe this contains more Scot material? Maybe not. It’s certainly a puzzle… (A quick Molcat search turns up no leads)

    Regarding The Grimoire of Turiel – I’ve recently made arrangements to get a copy of the passenger list for the voyage of SS Umvoti’s made in Autumn 1927, returning to London in December of that year. Unfortunately it took them 24 hours to tell me the document is ‘too large’ (whatever that means) to be delivered using the National Archives’ new-fangled digital system, so I’ve just sent off their proforma for a quote on a paper copy. Since you seem to know a thing or two about late 19/early 20C occultists (not really my area of interest…) maybe you’d like a copy once I get it. Perhaps we’ll see if we can find a possible contender for Marius Malchus. Drop me an email at phil (at) larkfall (dot) co (dot) uk if you fancy it.

  3. […] the Shelf Review – A Complete Book of Magic Science Part 3 Alan Thorogood posted a comment on the last section of the review of the Hockley book.  He had caught something that I missed from The Rosicrucian Seer – a letter […]

  4. Phil,
    I had forgotten about Hall’s mention of ‘The Complete Book…’ I’m reasonably certain there are no Hockley manuscripts in the British Library nor any single item that could be regarded as a direct ancestor of the text, so perhaps Hall merely believed the original to be located there. The possibility that Hall quoted a different version of the ‘Complete Book…’ is intriguing and I wonder if it is extant. A manuscript of that name isn’t amongst the Hall items deposited in the Getty Research Library but there is another avenue I might try. I’ll leave a further comment here if I learn anything more.
    And thanks for your offer – I’ll be in touch shortly.

  5. Further to my earlier comment, I have located the catalogue referred to by Hockley. It was issued by the London bookseller Thomas Millard, of 79 St. Paul’s Churchyard, who appears to have specialised in occult literature. The catalogue includes Sibly’s Key of Solomon and Parkins’ Grand Oracle of Heaven, which are also mentioned in Hockley’s letter.
    Hockley’s ‘babe’ is listed as follows:
    ‘RARE MSS.—Complete Book of Magick Science, containing the Method of Constraining Spirits to Visible Appearance, Consecration of Lamens, etc. of the Planetary Angels, with a form of a Bond of Spirits. Coloured diagrams, 70 pages, quarto, beautifully copied from original’
    It was on sale for the princely sum of 3 guineas.

  6. Great material. I click on the links, very informative!

  7. Can somebody send me a pic of the magic circe of solomon in color i cant fid any on the web

  8. Mabe you can post a color pic on this page of the magic circle of solomon

  9. Mabe you can post a color pic on this page of the magic circle of solomon ok

  10. […] between manuscripts) as created by the 19th century mystic Frederick Hockley (more on that here and here).  This book was often bound in manuscripts of an English edition of the famous grimoire, the Key […]


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