The Long-Lost Friend and the Egyptian Secrets of Albertus Magnus

One of the most common statements about The Long-Lost Friend‘s sources is that it derives from another book, the Egyptian Secrets attributed to Albertus Magnus.  This statement is incorrect, and is incorrect in two different ways, the sloppy and the understandable.

First, the sloppy:

“Hohman mentions Albertus Magnus in some of his charms.  This means that he got the material out of the Egyptian Secrets!”

This argument assumes that Albertus Magnus only wrote one book, the Egyptian Secrets.  In fact, Albert the Great wrote many books, and the Egyptian Secrets isn’t one of them.  Indeed, it was written nearly five centuries after Albertus died.   Hohman’s recipes from “Albertus Magnus” actually derive from the Liber Aggregationis, a book that probably wasn’t written by the real Albertus but that included lore on stones, herbs, and animals that made it quite popular down through the years.  Hohman used this book as a source and not the Egyptian Secrets, as would be obvious to anyone who read the latter.  You can read it in the English edition, The Book of Secrets of Albertus Magnus.

Second, the understandable:

“Some of the charms in the Egyptian Secrets and The Long-Lost Friend are the same!  This means Hohman got his charms from that book!”

This does get some points for examining the two books in concert, realizing that one book is older than the other, and concluding that one is the source of another.  What it neglects, however, is that both books derive their material from the vast corpus of German charms that we discussed previously.  Viewed within that context, we can see that Hohman derives much of his “Egyptian Secrets” material from the Romanusbüchlein, as well as from charms that were passed down orally in Germany well after his time.

Therefore, the world is on notice that this argument may only be used in the future if someone comes up with a new take on it.

Also of interest is that Albertus Magnus had a mental breakdown before his death, which is a built-in hook for any horror RPG campaign set in the 13th century.

Also, I am Captain America.

Good night.

Published in: on August 3, 2010 at 9:52 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. There’s also the question of availability. Both Egyptian Secrets and TLLF were widely advertised for sale. ES at least was available in the Sears & Roebuck catalog for over a decade.

    • Indeed. Folklorists would have been aided greatly had they consulted the works – many German, and not reprinted – that were circulating at the same time as Hohman was writing.

  2. […] me that I had yet to go back and re-explore The Egyptian Secrets of Albertus Magnus (mentioned here).  It may seem odd that I haven’t given it the once-over before now on this project, but I […]

  3. […] you can read my posts covering such topics as the background of the author, Saint Lawrence, the Egyptian Secrets of Albertus Magnus, German hymns, beer, the rheumatism letter, running water, the use of the devil’s name […]

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