Cunning Libraries: The Magic Book of Early Modern Folk Magicians
The libraries of cunning-folk - those local village wizards and wise-women of the early modern British Isles - ranged considerably from scraps of spoken and written charms, to a single imposing personal grimoire to heaving shelves full of magical tomes. The magics contained in such books ran from pious prayers to more suspicious "black magic", and from the techniques of folk magic and witchcraft to (streamlined versions of) ritual conjurations of angels, devils, and the dead.Such folk magicians employed a wide range of ephemerides, conjurations, and experiments. The sources they commonly drew on included potent astrological, alchemical, and nigromantic know-how. From Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft (an accidental best-seller which provided intricate details of the rituals of which it so disapproved) to (psuedo)Agrippa's Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy - which collected a variety of instructions on divination and spirit conjuring - there was a wealth of printed as well as manuscript sources upon which these practitioners cut their eager teeth and worked their craft. Undoubtedly the most prized texts upon their shelves were the working-books: the collections of spells, recipes, formulae, and correspondences gathered on the fly by enterprising and experimenting folk magicians.The "average" cunning-man and cunning-woman's reading material still presents substantial understanding and use to modern practitioners looking to understand our magical forebears and their days and ways better. In this talk, contemporary cunning-man and historian Dr Alexander Cummins will offer us a tour of such libraries, and present some key findings about the nature of magic, community, and knowledge along the way.About the Presenter:Dr. Alexander Cummins (@grimoiresontape) is a professional diviner, consultant sorcerer, and historian of magic. His work focuses on grimoires, divination, and folk necromancy. He co-hosts Radio Free Golgotha, and can be booked for talks, workshops, readings, coaching and consultation at www.alexandercummins.com/. His recorded classes can also be obtained from The Cauldron Black archives.
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