First Edition, 2011 Softcover. Small octavo. 88pp. illustrated in b&w and colour. Original printed paper wrappers, overlapping the text block. Page edges uncut.
Some wear to the edges of the cover
1 in stock
This text first appeared as an appendix to the first edition of the Grimoire of Pope Honorius in 1670. It was reproduced with some additions in the second edition of that title in 1760, and elsewhere. Its significance has been overlooked. It preserves the voice of a 17th Century practitioner of folk magic of a truly remarkable kind. In Europe generally, about 80% of those persecuted for witchcraft were women. However, in Normandy, France about 90% were men and most were shepherds with horsemen and blacksmiths also persecuted. Most part of this work deals with the magic of shepherds and horsemen, including reference to toad magic, which the shepherds were particularly suspected of practising. Whilst much of the magical workings are overtly Christian, some are specifically demonic and some utilises an otherwise unknown system of names of power (that include Satan) to provide the practitioner with magical familiars. Guidon notes that this system is quite different to that found in the Key of Solomon or Agrippa. The illustrations (some coloured) provide contemporary images of a practitioner practising his craft and also a talisman that came to be adapted for stopping horses, representing a tradition esoteric horsemanship where horses are treated as familiar or spirits to be controlled, very different to the Society of the Horseman’s Word, but which also operated in Britain. This talisman is realised as per the instructions, and tipped in. Some spells are explicitly blasphemous, and indicate either the survival of pre-Christian belief or the emergence of very early neo-paganism. This blasphemy was a secret from most, being framed in Latin. It required expert, professional translation to uncover it. One spell is very obscene. The correct literal translation of this into English makes this publication the first occult book (to my knowledge – I am happy to be corrected!) to use the four letter “C” word since Crowley, and then he, rather demurely, disguised it with acrostics! The Commentary discusses the magical use of obscenity and blasphemy. The anonymous Commentary also discusses the general significance of the text and how it intersects with academic knowledge concerning the persecution of witches in Normandy and how the Guidon, in some of the practices being described, attempted to stay within the letter of the law, but also how other parts are clearly demonic and how mere possession of the text might have got one into a lot of trouble. As mentioned the text is most certainly practitioner generated. The first few pages applaud the work of Guidon. His, at times pedantic, description of his technique, and how it varies from others, signals that he was a practitioner amongst other practitioners, rather than a commentator. He is certainly not condemnatory, except to the authors of the malevolent spells from which he seeks to protect livestock. The practices are by no means confined to Normandy. He gives the detailed ritual by which the person who curses an animal to may be tortured into submission or killed, the Commentary explains that the traces left behind by the working have been found many times in the British Isles too.