I’ve been at a friend’s house, with very little Internet access, for a few days. Nonetheless, I’ve used that time to try to accomplish something worthwhile.
Chris Bilardi’s comment on my last post reminded 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 know myself too well. If I had read it any earlier, I’d have gotten the Secrets and Friend charms jumbled together in my mind, with the consequence that I’d see a Secrets charm in another book, want to find it in the Friend, not find it, get frustrated, try another one or two searches, then realize it was in Secrets instead. (As it stands, I still get confused about that turtledove tongue charm.)
Nonetheless, my examination did turn up some new routes of inquiry, and it also brought home an aspect of the Friend that I had forgotten: what it leaves out. I might leave some of these topics for future post, but there’s one minor charm type that is in Egyptian Secrets that Hohman omits that I’ve talked about before but never illustrated.
We might take a charm “To Cite a Witch” from the Secrets as one example:
Take an earthen pot, not glazed, yarn spun by a girl not yet seven years old. Put the water of the bewitched animal into the pot, then take the egg of a black hen and some of the yarn and move the latter three times round the egg, and ejaculate in the three devils’ name… pronounce the following: Lucifer, devil summon the sorcerer before the witch or me, in the three devils’ name.”
Another appears directly below it, in a charm to find a thief:
If something is stolen from you, proceed also as stated above, take likewise water, draw it from a brook stream downward, and cut three splinters from the threshold over which the thief did run. The water must be drawn in the three names of the devil.
These charms have always intrigued me, insofar as they are similar to other charms which call upon God and the Trinity. Such charms in the Secrets involve witches, thieves, and caterpillars, which indicates that the devil is seen as having control over wrongdoers, and that he likes caterpillars a lot.
You can find charms like this from time to time in the German literature – but not in the Friend. Hohman has no such rituals in his book. It’s hard to say whether this was because he had never encountered them, or because he felt their inclusion was immoral. It’s impossible to prove one way or another, though I lean toward the latter, due to the lack of one other major category of rituals – those used to find treasure. The closest Hohman comes is in his procedure for making a divining rod, and even that claims to be for finding minerals for mining or water. To me, it indicates that Hohman was using some judiciousness in choosing what he thought was valuable to be placed in the book.
Next, another Cthulhu product review!