Saturday, July 30, 2011

Egyptian Secrets or White and Black Art For Man and Beast, attributed to Albertus Magnus

Egyptian Publishing Company.  208 pages.  Octavo.  1930  (Press and year not stated)

(Revisiting an old classic)

Hardcover with dust jacket.  Translated from the original German.

Egyptian Secrets is a classic among folk magick practitioners, especially among those who practice Hoodoo and Pennsylvania German Pow-wow, a.k.a. Braucherei.  Its charms and herbal remedies have been used for generations to stop blood, charm firearms, heal animals, break hexes and many other practical uses.  The majority of spells and charms included tend to focus on treating domesticated animals and curing minor personal ailments such as wart removal, ointments for burns, and treatments for gaut and jaundice.  Thus, the charms and remedies therein are interesting indicators, as they represent the needs and concerns of a mostly rural society at a time when doctors were very scarce, leaving many to fend for themselves.  In many ways it is comparable to the American folk magick grimiore, The Long Lost Friend, by John George Hohman.

The book itself consists of three parts.  No reason is given why the book is divided thus.  Each part contains seemingly random charms and remedies without following a pattern or theme.  Additionally, each section contains its own separate index.  Thus, if one needs to look up a particular charm one would need to check all three indexes.  This makes the book somewhat difficult to use efficiently, especially considering that, as in the case of blood-stopping, speedy retrieval of a charm would be essential.  One wonders at the logic of this.  At least the indexes list the charms alphabetically.  I suspect copies of Egyptian Secrets often contained many inserted bookmarks or dogeared pages to assist in locating particular charms.  Seventeen blank pages are included at the rear, presumably for notations.

Occult scholar, Joseph H. Peterson, has traced the history of Egyptian Secrets back to the early 18th century.  The book has no connection to the famous Dominican bishop Albertus Magnus (1193 - 1280).  His name was likely added for name recognition to boost sales, an early form of spurious celebrity endorsement or 'star power'.  The title is somewhat of a misnomer.  In this case 'Egyptian' refers to Gypsies (or the Roma).  This is due to the erroneous belief that Gypsies had an Egyptian origin.  Further, there is also little evidence that these charms are of Roma origin.

Physically the book is not terribly impressive and is printed rather cheaply, as is common of the era. The dust jacket sports a Faustian figure summoning or commanding imps (black & white).  The same image is printed on tan canvas boards.  Pages are medium weight pulp paper and have darkened significantly over time due to acid content, though they remain in fairly good condition.  I have treated each page with a de-acidification spray called Archival Mist from Preservation Technologies.  With a bit of luck, this will stop (or at least slow down) the book's deterioration.


  1. If you show me the book I promise not to get any hoodoo drool over it!

  2. I just bought a ancient american edition of that book... I'm pleased to see you're attempting to preserve yours in a so nice way! I'm actually doing the same, but I have some difficulties about how to find a good de-acidification spray here in Montreal, Qc.
    Are you a collector?