This release from Teitan Press, of which I received a review copy, includes a bit of a back story involving me. The editor, Colin Campbell, came across two notable and previously unpublished manuscripts attributed to the 19th century spiritualist and occultist Frederick Hockley. Given their unusual nature (as we’ll discuss) they were a clear choice for publication. When they were on the verge of publication, he realized that Hockley’s source was actually our very own Book of Oberon from the Folger Shakespeare Library. He added some additional material, contacted Joe, and moved along.
(This is actually par for the course with research for book projects – you’re always finding items you wish you’d known about three months before. I’ll probably end up with items I wish were added to the Friend before publication.)
The heart of A Book of the Offices of Spirits is a new example of the Officium Spirituum, a list of spirits that appear in magical manuscripts describing the nature, dominion, and benefits of each being. This list includes eighty-two spirits, along with additional lists of twelve spirits each for each king of the cardinal directions. As is illustrated in the introduction, many differences can be observed between the list here and the better known one in the Goetia, which seems to be derived from Wier’s Pseudomonarchia Daemonum. The book itself does not delve into the differences to a great extent, so those interested in such questions might have to examine the three works for themselves. Beyond this, the books contain instructions regarding magical herbs, fairy summonings, incense, and other topics.
The book also contains quite a bit of supplementary material. We also receive Hockley’s one-paragraph introduction to the work – which, I should add, is highly revealing regarding his perspectives on Raphael, Denley, and other figures – a horoscope of John Palmer, or “Zadkiel,” other lists of spirits from two other manuscripts, and a full introduction from the editor. As the Folger discovery was made too late to incorporate into the other material, the book also includes a section on the older manuscript, along with some corrections of the notes to the text proper. All of this appears inside an attractive black cover with a gilt reproduction of the manuscript’s title page on the cover.
Buyers should bear in mind that this is approximately 25-30 pages of a 230-page manuscript on which a team of people is still working. That having been said, it’s a work of importance in its own right that also provides an interesting window for those who are waiting for our version to appear. I highly recommend it.