On the Shelf Review – The Book of Gold

The latest grimoire offered from Avalonia is The Book of Gold, a French work collected in the British Museum’s Lansdowne MS. 1202 with a copy of the Key of Solomon which Mathers made famous by using it as a source for his edition.  Nonetheless, the Livre d’Or eschews magic circles and elaborate preparations in favor of a simple magical system centered upon the Psalms.

The Psalms are likely one of the most popular portions of the Bible.  At least one is worded as a curse in and of itself, so their adaptation to magical uses is unsurprising.  Such techniques were passed down through Jewish mystical traditions for centuries, and appropriated by Christians for their own purposes, whether for use in divination or to inscribe in talismans.  Through such works as the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, these techniques came to us in modern times, where they have become stock in trade in belief systems such as hoodoo.  As such, the Psalms have become an integral part of many magical traditions.

The Book of Gold presents a translated entry for each charm, stating its purpose, the manner in which it should be used, and any magical characters that might appear on the amulets associated with him.  Most of these are relatively short – perhaps a few lines each – but they will nonetheless be of interest to scholars and practitioners alike.

What really made this book for me, however, was the commentary.  Each one includes a discussion of the uses of that psalm taken from a wide variety of magical works.  There’s little synthesis or analysis, but it’s great to see all of this information in a single location.  What this book illustrates, in effect, is the reason why getting so many works on this topic into print is so important, as data from one can be compared or collated with that from another.

The book is rounded out with an introduction regarding the manuscript, a set of tables detailing the uses of each Psalm, appendices regarding the uses of the Psalms in talismans, a bibliography, and an index.  If there’s one omission to be regretted, it is the French text of the document.

Overall, this is an impressive addition to Avalonia’s line, and one that will likely be of interest to those who wish to use the Psalms in magical practice or scholars seeking a guide to the Psalms’ impact on the field of magic.

Published in: on June 15, 2010 at 11:15 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] The Grimoire of Honorius, as with many other books of magic, is “the world’s most infamous book of magic.”  The work was falsely attributed to Pope Honorius III, who granted it so that others might share in his power over demons.  Waite condemned its contents, while Eliphas Levi claimed that its influence brought about the assassination of the archbishop of Paris.  Now it is available from Avalonia Books another work from the team of David Rankine and Paul Harry Barron, who previously brought us The Book of Gold. […]

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