Review – Salomonic Magical Arts

Magical works from Northern Europe have come to greater attention in recent years.  We’ve seen a number of such works in English, beginning with Stephen Flowers’ translation of the Galdrabok, and all have been instrumental in providing us with access to texts that are both similar and different to the books of magic further to the south.  This work, translated by Fredrik Eytzinger, is a (mostly) new addition to the genre.

Salomonic Magical Arts is a transcript of two books of magic, the “red book” and the “black book,” from Swedish.  Both were transcribed by one Gabriel Djurklou, a nineteenth-century author of whom little is known.  Paul Heurgren later found these transcriptions and published them as  Salomoniska magiska konster.  In the mid-twentieth century, both books were rediscovered in Swedish archives.   The book before us includes both of the rediscovered texts translated into English, including over four hundred charms.  Those seeking runic magic will be largely disappointed, but oral and written charms, along with various concoctions and household remedies, are available in abundance.  The book also includes an introduction setting the work into its particular cultural context, a bibliography, and indices dedicated to particular purposes and ingredients.

This book should be compared with Johnson’s Tidebast och Vandelrot, a comprehensive dissertation on the topic of Swedish black books including over five hundred pages of translations from them.  In terms of the texts covered, both include copies of the “red book,” while only Eytzinger’s work has the “black book.”  Johnson has much more material, and features photographic reproductions of some of the seals redrawn in Arts.   I have to say I still prefer Johnson, whether for the greater amount of translated material or the more rigorous scholarship involved.  Nonetheless, Johnson’s work is not yet available in print, so some readers might prefer Eytzinger’s attractive hardback in its place.  If one wishes to build a library that contains as much of this material as possible, of course, then both works should be obtained.


Published in: on October 6, 2013 at 11:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

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