Monday, August 27, 2012

Back to Ghoul: Tools of the Monster Trade - Grimoire

Students aren’t the only ones heading back to the classrooms next week – it’s back to business for monster hunters, as well, especially with Halloween only a couple of months away.

Which is why we’ve dubbed September “Back to Ghoul” – a month of profiles on infamous tools of the trade, whether you’re a beastie or a monster slayer, kicking off with a favourite among witches and warlocks: The Grimoire.

Considered the textbook of magic, a modern Grimoire covers everything from how to create magical objects like talisman and amulets, to how to perform magical spells, and even how to invoke supernatural entities. In today’s pop culture, the Grimoire has morphed into more of a “paranormal bible” but the term dates as far back as between the 5th and 4th centuries, BC when the earliest known incantations were found on various clay-tablets excavated in modern Iraq.

These days, "Grimoire" is an alternate term for a spell book or tome of magical knowledge, the most famous being the literary fiction Necronomicon, the creation of horror and fantasy author, H.P. Lovecraft.

Whether in the real or fantasy world, Grimoires are one of the most-sought after and sacred tools of the monster trade. Chances are, you’ll have a hard time getting your hands on one, but here’s the list of the top 10 “real” Grimoires just in case:

1. The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses – with its pseudo-Hebraic mystical symbols, spirit conjurations and psalms, this book containing the secret wisdom of Moses was a founding text of Rastafarianism, a 1930s spiritual movement that arose in Jamaica.

2. Clavicule of Solomon – The granddaddy of Grimoires. Believed to be written by King Solomon, this text was used to obtain wisdom, discover treasures, and vanquish spirits. No wonder it was in hot demand.

3. Petit Albert – As well as practical household tips, this “little” book included spells to catch fish, charms for healing, and instructions on how to make a Hand of Glory, which would render one invisible.

4. The Book of the St. Cyprian – Said to have been first written by St. Cyprian in the 18th Century, this magical guide for the treasure hunter can still be purchased from the streets of Mexico City to herbalist stalls high in the Andes.

5. Dragon rouge – Another product of the cheap Grimoire boom of 18th Century France, the Draon rouge was infamous for including an invocation of the devil and his lieutenants.

6. The Book of Honorius – Through prayers and invocations, books of Honorius gave instructions on how to receive visions of God, Hell and purgatory, and knowledge of all science.

7. The Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy – Though the influential 16th Century philosopher Cornelius Agrippa wrote three books on occult sciences, the fourth text was written after his death – and blackened his name when the witch trials swept across Europe.

8. The Magus – Published in 1801, and written by balloonist Frances Barrett, the Magus was a re-statement of 17th Century occult science. Though a flop at the time, it influenced 19th Century and contemporary magical traditions.

9. The Necronomicon – Despite being a literary fiction created by horror and fantasy writer H.P. Lovecraft, several “real” Necronomicons have been published over the decades.

10. Book of Shadows – The founding text of modern Wicca. Through its mention in such pop culture TV dramas like Charmed, The Book of Shadows has achieved considerable cultural recognition.

If you’re lucky enough to stumble across one of these ancient texts, hold on tight – you could be holding the key for monster hunters around the globe. Because the more we know about the world's most-wanted monsters, the less chance they have to get YOU.

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