Cunning Magical Rhymes from Arthur Gauntlet

I love manuscripts which surprise me, or remind me of things I had forgotten, or best of all, open up new panoramas to me. The manuscript which forms the basis of my most recent work The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, managed to do all three of these. One of the little engaging surprises was the use of rhyming couplets in some of the charms.
Whilst the use of rhyming couplets has become commonplace in Wicca and Neopagan, people often do not appreciate their earlier use in traditions such as those of British Cunning-folk, who used heavily biblical references for much of their magic. The following charm to return stolen goods is from The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, an early 17th century London cunning-man’s book of practice. An interesting inclusion in the charm is two of the demon bishops, Matherion and Botherion, who are found in other charms in the book, and also in the Folger Vb.26 manuscript (c. 1580). The charm, which is quite extensive, reads as follows:
In Bethlehem was Jesus born
And Christened in the flood Jordan
Between two beasts was he laid
In that shed was neither wolf nor thief
But the blessed Trinity
The self same God that there was born
Defend me and my goods from harm
In the name of the Father And of the Son And of the Holy Ghost Amen
Matthew Mark Luke and John
Four Evangelists all in one
As you write the Trinity
Of our Saviour most truly
My Good which in this Circle be
I wish they might be safe with me
And that such Thieves as will me wrong
Be they weak or be they strong
Matherion before And Botherion behind
So those thieves you do them bind
As St Bartholomow bound the Devil
To defend him from all evil
With the hairs of his grey head
And also eke his hoary beard
So you Thieves see you stand still
As the spindle in the Mill
That from hence you do not start
Until I say you shall depart
By Alpha and Omega height
The first of day the last of night
And by that blessed Trinity
Three in one One in three
See you Angels with me tend
That my goods you safe defend
Until the morrow Morn of day
I bid the Thieves to part away
So Thieves Thieves Thieves stand you still
And be obedient to my will.
Fiat fiat fiat amen.

The popularity of such techniques has endured, as indeed has the magic practised by cunning-folk, or its derivatives. There is still so much to learn from our past!

One thought on “Cunning Magical Rhymes from Arthur Gauntlet

  1. Dear David,
    Really love your site and magickal work.
    I have recently started studying Goetia and composed a little poem

    The teachings of Christ
    are all very nice
    but it’s Astoreth and Belial
    that make me smile.

    With thanks for inspiration to The Divinyls ‘I touch myself’.

    You’re the one who makes me come money,
    You’re the one who makes me shine,
    When I’m with you I’m always laughing,
    I want to make you mine.

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