I’ve been thinking about what I’ve seen in my research on The Long-Lost Friend so far, and I’m struck with how much of a living tradition this book really is. If you’ve read Owen Davies’ Popular Magic (or Cunning Folk for the earlier printing), the books of European wizards and cunning folk seem to be window dressing in most cases – part of the paraphernalia that is used in some cases, especially in tales of treasure hunting, but more often collected for its aesthetic or reputation-enhancing properties.
Hohman’s book is something different. In my research into the ethnography and folklore, the book is rarely possessed by anyone who doesn’t actively use it and believe in its power. Further, the copies I’ve seen so far each bear the unmistakable marks of use – dog-eared pages, annotations, items circled, little notes here and there, etc.
Frankly, I think this sort of attitude died down over the years, especially after the book was adopted in hoodoo, and it’s nearly gone today, but it’s something to consider about the book.