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.

Psalms – bridging systems

I am currently enjoying reading Chris Bilardi’s excellent The Red Church, and was not surprised to see that Psalms are used as part of the art of the Pennsylvania German Braucherei (commonly called Pow Wow). Having recently worked with Paul Harry Barron on The Book of Gold, I could not but help be struck by how common the magical use of the Psalms actually is.
Not only were the Psalms commonly used in grimoires like The Key of Solomon and the Goetia, but also in Jewish folk magic, Judaism, Christianity (from its early origins onwards), Hellenic magic, the magic of Cunning-folk, Hoodoo. This makes the Psalms a magical nexus which crosses between religions and magical systems in a way rarely seen.
The diversity of uses of the Psalms is also staggering, from divination to healing, protection to death spells, winning honours to conjuring spirits, the list of uses is extensive. Commonly the uses are simple and do not require complex ingredients or preparation (with the exception of some of the grimoire uses).
Not only do the Psalms cross systems, but they also retain their inherent efficacy in different languages. Having used and/or seen them used in Latin, Hebrew, Greek and English, each language has its own cadence, power and beauty in the words, demonstrating the inherent magic of the words (I am sure the same is also true of other languages like French, the original language of Le Livre d’Or – The Book of Gold).
So next time you think of magical practices, spare a thought for the Psalms, and remember that all religions have magic in them, whether it is called that or not, and whether it is discrete and hidden or public and clearly visible!