Review – Dr. Dee and the Dark Venus: The Enigma of the Tuba Veneris

One of my goals on my trip to England was to pick up the limited edition book Dr. Dee and the Dark Venus:  The Enigma of the Tuba Veneris.  Issued by Neptune Press, the book is only available through London’s Atlantis Bookshop, though I believe it can be ordered from their website.

This a new paperback edition of the Tuba Veneris, a work of magic dated circa 1600.  Attributed (but unlikely to be the work of) the Elizabethan magus John Dee, the book provides the magician a procedure to summon various spirits connected to the spirit Venus who can grant treasure.  For further details, you can check out my review of John Coughlin’s edition of the book or the version of Joe Peterson’s site.

This raises another question: what does this book provide that Coughlin’s Waning Moons Publications edition does not?  One key inclusion is a color reproduction of one manuscript of the book, taken from Warburg Institute MS. FBH 510.  We also have the transcribed Latin text and the English translation thereof.  Coughlin’s text was based on Meier’s edition published in 1990 that brought together several texts of the book, so we see some differences between the two, most notably in the wording of the magic circle.

We also receive sections focusing on treasure hunting and its connection to both the book and the careers of John Dee and Edward Kelley.  Dee, though best known for pursuing knowledge of the angels for lofty goals, was not ashamed to ask the spirits for help finding money from time to time, although he had little luck with it.  Although the Tuba Veneris most likely has a Continental origin, most of this section focuses upon treasure hunting in England, which is a curious choice.  Cousins also provides us with notes and a bibliography, but no index; given how short the book is, this is not a major drawback.

Cousins’ edition is an excellent edition to one’s library.  If you want a book of more artistic and talismanic qualities, I’d still recommend the Waning Moon edition, but even then Cousins provides material not present in the other version, and it should be much cheaper, even for those who must order it from overseas.  Although Dee aficionados are likely to be dissatisfied with how peripheral this book is to their own interests, I’d recommend it for anyone who’s interested in sixteenth-century grimoires.

Published in: on June 2, 2013 at 10:13 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you for your kind words. Meier verifies that the Form of the Circle is consistent in all 3 existing manuscripts of the Tuba Veneris and in the 1794 printed edition which has a different source manuscript now lost. I have copies of Meier and a transcription of the 1794 edition. I am afraid that the diagram of the circle in the Waning Moon edition is unfortunately incorrect.

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