Thursday, April 9, 2009

Top ten grimoires

Owen Davies is Reader in Social History at the University of Hertfordshire. He has written extensively on the history of popular magic, witchcraft, and ghosts.

His new book is Grimoires: A History of Magic Books.

Among the praise for the book:
"An amazing achievement, not just for its depth of research but its breadth, from Massachusetts to Martinique to Mauritius. It must become the classic work on the subject."
--Ronald Hutton, author of The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Pagan Witchcraft
Davies named his top ten grimoires for the Guardian.

One title on the list:
The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses

Although one of the more recent grimoires, first circulating in manuscript in the 18th century, this has to be number one for the breadth of its influence. From Germany it spread to America via the Pennsylvania Dutch, and once in cheap print was subsequently adopted by African Americans. With its pseudo-Hebraic mystical symbols, spirit conjurations and psalms, this book of the secret wisdom of Moses was a founding text of Rastafarianism and various religious movements in west Africa, as well as a cause célèbre in post-war Germany.
Read about all ten books on Davies' list.

--Marshal Zeringue