Following in a Cunning-Man’s Footsteps – Arthur Gauntlet Radio Interview & Article

In anticipation of my radio interview with Karagan Griffith on Witchtalk this sunday 11th March, I thought I would post an abbreviated version of a recent article in my blog to provide some background material on my work for the book The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet and its contents.


Over the last ten or eleven years I have looked at dozens of manuscripts from the Middle Ages and Renaissance in my research into the grimoires.  The results of this have been published in numerous books making these source texts available to the wider public (e.g. The Book of Gold, The Book of Treasure Spirits, A Collection of Magical Secrets, The Veritable Key of Solomon and The Goetia of Dr Rudd).  Amongst all these manuscripts, one occasionally jumped out and grabbed my attention as being particularly significant.  A particularly noteworthy example of this is the manuscript of a 17th century London Cunning-man’s book of practice, which I have edited and discussed in my new book The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet.

This text exemplifies the cunning art, drawing together material from numerous earlier sources into an eclectic mix which includes conjurations of angels, demons, fairies and the dead, as well as a diverse range of charms.  The charms include earlier medical charms written by famous surgeons from the fourteenth and fifteenth century, herbal remedies, wax images, and charms using the Psalms, many of which are also seen in The Book of Gold.  There is a significant emphasis on the wand as the primary tool of the cunning-man in this work, including a wand consecration and several conjurations and charms.

The Book of the 7 Images of the Days, which forms part of The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, has an interesting use of the wand as part of a love charm, where the names of the man and woman are written in the heart of the image used, with the instruction to hang the Image before the Stars And smite it with a twig or wand of Olive Tree And Conjure the Image”.[1]  The use of an olive twig or wand is interesting, as it is not a native British plant and would have required some effort to gain.  However Gauntlet includes material from numerous sources, including the Arbatel, the Heptameron, the Key of Solomon, the Book of Gold, Folger Vb.26, Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft, and the writings of Cornelius Agrippa, William Bacon and John Dee, as well as much material which seems to be unique, so this is not surprising.

As we know, cunning-folk, both men and women, provided a wide range of magical services to anyone who paid them.  Such services included a wide range of possibilities including healing people and farm animals, recovering lost or stolen goods, protection from witches, curses and evil spirits; gaining love, luck when gambling, and locating hidden treasure.

The incredible spectrum of material in this work, drawing on whatever worked from incense recipes to magic circles, amulets to complex conjurations, demonstrates the pragmatic and eclectic work of the cunning-man and woman, who may perhaps be regarded as the true forefathers and mothers of the modern western esoteric revival.


[1] The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, Rankine, 2011:282.

The beneficial industry of ants in magic

Sometimes when you are reading through material something grabs your attention and makes you think. For me, a good example of this occurred when I was putting together the material for A Collection of Magical Secrets. The piece was a charm to make a thief give back a stolen item. The instigators of this are ants, as a named wax figure of the suspect (you need to have some idea of who committed the theft) is placed in an anthill. Here the principles of sympathetic magic come into action, as the suspect is troubled by the feeling of ants crawling over their skin until they return the stolen item. As with many such charms from the eighteenth century, it does require a blessed item (wax), suggesting that the person using the charm needed to speak nicely to their local priest! Here is the charm from A Collection of Magical Secrets:

In Order To Make A Thief

Give Back The Stolen Item

You need to take some blessed wax and with it, fashion a figurine or a statue of the person suspected of the theft. And write the name of this person on its forehead and then place this figurine into an anthill, while saying these words:

“In the name of Jesus Christ, thou art just, Oh Lord and thy judgment is just. Bestow thy virtue on this my ritual and be blessed, praised and glorified throughout all the Ages. So Mote It Be.”

As soon as you have done this, it is assured, that the thief will never have any rest nor repose and will be forced to return the item he has taken without fail.