Reading the Comments

I do apologize for not answering comments more frequently.  Part of it is a function of having a smartphone; I see them come in, but by the time I sit down at a desktop, I’ve forgotten about them.  Let me see if I can make it up.

I’ll start with someone I feel less guilty about answering late.  Derek Nylander asks:

Hello, I was just wondering if anyone knew any information about Dr.Johnson or knew if there was some way to contact his family. The reason for this is that I am looking into the art of year walking and need some verification on a few questions of my own, thanks in advance.

For those who don’t know, the year walk, or Årsgång, is a Swedish ritual in which a person walks outside at midnight on New Year’s Eve and walks to the local churchyard as a method of divination or gaining power.  It was the focus for a popular indie mobile game a few years ago.  Given that this question was asked on January 6, I haven’t messed up too much by waiting to answer.

If Johnson’s family is anything like mine, they will either know nothing or insist you read them dinosaur encyclopedias.  A better way to work with this might be to seek out people from Sweden who might be able to access the sources in their language.  Also, Gårdbäck’s Trolldom contains a couple of pages on the topic that might be of use to you.

Danger Nick backwards asks:

Peterson has a Sworn Book on his web site is this going to be a new translation from the critical edition, or merely a re-edited version of his web version?

Oh, come on.  It’s Joe Peterson!  If you need more convincing than that, the Ibis Press site promises that this is “the complete Latin text, carefully checked against known manuscripts, and related texts in Latin, German, and English.”  And when it says the “complete Latin text,” I’m almost certain that it means “in translation.”  Joe’s website text is from the British manuscripts, and he’s said that the Latin contains more information.

Ian Dall brings up this point:

Recall Gustav Henningsens account of how Alonso de Salazar Frías, inquisitor of the Basque witch trials, tried out 22 alleged witch ointments, but to discover that they contained a variety of ingredients, none of them psychoactive.. The concept may have more to do with the magical salves of Apuleius Golden ass, or Martianus Capellas Marriage of Philology & Mercury, than anything recognizably medicinal.Of course, it has been a while since I read up on this: for all I know, these points have been refuted, or simply not valid for this discussion

I will simply note that Alonso de Salazar Frías is not mentioned in Hatsis’ book on witch ointments.  I’d be interested in hearing a response.

Finally, Shara says:

I had been enjoying your book reviews and I wanted to ask you if you had read Liana Saif’s new book The Arabic Influences on Early Modern Occult Philosophy? It’s part of Palgrave’s Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic series and some of their books I find are a hit or miss with me. And with the price tag of $100 plus for the hardcover, I was hoping you would do a review of it so I would have a better idea if it’s worthy buying or if I am better off waiting for whenever they do a paperback release of it. As an aside, I heard that Liana Saif is working on translating the Arabic Ghayat al Hakim into English. If you could find a confirmation of this or more information about this, I would appreciate that.

Sorry, but I’m not intending to read Saif’s The Arabic Influences on Early Modern Occult Philosophy any time soon.  Looking at the table of contents, most of it is discussions of the opinions of Bacon, Aquinas, Ficino, etc., and I don’t really want to read more about what they thought about magic than I already have.  I also prefer the grubbier side of ritual magic rather than the more astrologically-oriented material.  I’d much rather read Werewolf Histories, but I don’t think that’s happening any time soon.

I will say that I do own five books from the Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic series, and I’ve not regretted adding them to my library (some were gifts, which made it easier):

Dillinger’s Magical Treasure Hunting in Europe and North America (review)
Roper’s Charms, Charmers, and CharmingBever’s The Realities of Witchcraft and Popular Magic in Early Modern Europe
Butler’s Victorian Occultism and the Making of Modern Magic
Hutton’s Physical Evidence for Ritual Acts, Sorcery and Witchcraft in Christian Britain (a wonderful book that I’m reading right now)

The only one I’ve been somewhat disappointed in was Victorian Occultism, as it dealt mainly with magical lodges and not with the other Victorian magical material in which I’m more interested.  I can say that this line is of higher quality than some of the offerings from other academic publishers that put “magic” in the titles and blurbs of overpriced books that are mainly about astrology, witch trials, literature, spiritualism, etc.

Given that most of these have been out for a few years and only Bever seems to be in paperback, I’m not optimistic about Saif’s title appearing there. I’d suggest ordering it through your local library’s interlibrary loan service and checking it out before purchasing.

As for the Picatrix – Clifford Low pointed out a while ago that Saif was listed as doing so on the Palgrave site, and I was able to confirm that.  The notice is now gone, so I’m not sure what the status of that project might be. These days, I generally don’t put too much hope into any proposition until the publisher announces pre-orders.

That’s about all for now.  Keep the comments coming!  That is, unless you want me to send the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses to Africa.  You’re not getting it.

Published in: on March 2, 2016 at 9:57 pm  Comments (7)  

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  1. Hi Dan,

    Thank you for taking the time to reply to my comment and for posting the titles of the books you own from the Palgrave Historical Studies in Magic and Witchcraft series and your thoughts about the series. I have had Charms, Charmers and Charming in my amazon shopping cart for a while now but had been on the fence about it, I would like to know your thoughts on this book, should you have the time. I have added Dillinger’s Magical Treasure Hunting to my shopping cart after reading your review. I really like Bever’s The Realities of Witchcraft and Popular Magic in Early Modern Europe. I have Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon and his Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles, and I have deep respect for his works so I will be buying his Palgrave book, although I will have to wait a while since I just bought 3 of Teitan Press titles: Of the Arte Goetia by Campbell (wish I had found your review of this before I bought it); Ars Notoria and Dr Rudd’s Nine Hierarchies of Angels both edited by Alan Thorogood (I had these on my To Buy list for later but after reading your review I just decided not to wait) , plus I bought Azoetia Third Edition by Andrew Chumbley and a few other THP titles, and most of Kenneth Grant’s new enhanced edition hardcover titles, so I pretty much spent most of my savings on books and unfortunately, I have to wait a few months before I can buy any more new books. The wait is torture to a bookworm and collector like me, but it will also give me the time to read all the new books I just bought.

  2. Liana Saif: “As part of this project, I will produce an English translation of Maslama al-Qurṭubī’s Ġāyat al-ḥakīm (Picatrix) to be published by the Warburg Institute.”

    http://oxford.academia.edu/LianaSaif

    This is exciting news!

  3. Not suprised Hatsis left that out. He seems rather set on the entheogenic approach ( &, to be fair, Henningsen is Scandinavian, & hence obscure ). Is he is aware of Sula Benets identification of the Kaneh Bosem of the Hebrew chrism with cannabis, I wonder? Certainly would give a different tincture to Abramelin Oil.

  4. Do you have any information on Damaris Gehr’s edition of the Summa Sacrae Magicae?

    • No, but maybe one of our readers will.

    • As far as I know, the Damaris Gehr’s edition of the Summa Sacrae Magicae was projected for release early this year, but it is original Latin with Italian commentary, not in English. If I am mistaken, somebody please correct me. Also, here’s a link where you can read some of Damaris Gehr’s papers and message her yourself regarding your question.
      https://unibasel.academia.edu/DamarisGehr

      • Thanks! At this point, though, I’ve become reluctant to entertain reports of a “forthcoming” book until a publisher announces it. The Summa, for example, has been “forthcoming” since 2008. I really hope it’s released, of course.


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