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Author Topic: The oldest book on magic you've read  (Read 304 times)

Sefiru

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The oldest book on magic you've read
« on: September 05, 2018, 06:46:09 pm »
I was looking something up the other day, and it occurred to me that while a lot of magical practices are (or claim to be) very old, most of the books I've read on them have been written within the last 50 years. I've heard of the Lesser Key of Solomon, but I've never read it. I've read about Hermeticism, but not any of the original texts.

Have you?
What is the oldest book on magic and related topics that you've read? Do you think there's any use to studying books that old, or do modern works cover the material better?

RandallS

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Re: The oldest book on magic you've read
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2018, 09:01:19 pm »
What is the oldest book on magic and related topics that you've read? Do you think there's any use to studying books that old, or do modern works cover the material better?

I've read a number of the European grimoires. As the dating on these is often iffy, I'm not sure which of those I've read is the oldest. It's probably The Sworn Book of Honorius, which probably dates to the 13th Century. As for their usefulness, it depends on whether or not you are interested in western ceremonial magic and its history.
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MadZealot

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Re: The oldest book on magic you've read
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2018, 11:02:21 pm »
I was looking something up the other day, and it occurred to me that while a lot of magical practices are (or claim to be) very old, most of the books I've read on them have been written within the last 50 years. I've heard of the Lesser Key of Solomon, but I've never read it. I've read about Hermeticism, but not any of the original texts.

Have you?
What is the oldest book on magic and related topics that you've read? Do you think there's any use to studying books that old, or do modern works cover the material better?

I think Lesser Key goes dates from the mid-16s.  The oldest works I've looked at were from Agrippa, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, from the early 15s.

Imo they're interesting to look at, but if I wanted to do practical ceremonial magic I'd pick up Modern Magick by Donald Michael Kraig. He covers a lot of material that you'd find in Regardie's GD work, but without all the damned purple prose.


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Jack

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Re: The oldest book on magic you've read
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2018, 01:27:12 am »


What is the oldest book on magic and related topics that you've read? Do you think there's any use to studying books that old, or do modern works cover the material better?

I've read some old stuff but not in years. I prefer practical stuff these days and most of the old stuff doesn't click for me. I do think there's value in knowing where your source's sources came from, but the odds are that something published in the last twenty years will convey it in more useful terms for me as a modern person.

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Dynes Hysbys

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Re: The oldest book on magic you've read
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2018, 04:43:32 am »

What is the oldest book on magic and related topics that you've read? Do you think there's any use to studying books that old, or do modern works cover the material better?

Does the Greek Magical Papyri count?  It's a great source of magical spells and rituals, some of which I have adapted and used. It has some lovely evocations to Hekate in there amongst others.  The one that amuses me (but I haven't dared try) is one that threatens Her with a very heavy duty curse if she doesn't perform for the petitioner.  Great stuff


 I've just bought the Leyden Papyrus too but haven't worked with it yet.

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Re: The oldest book on magic you've read
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2018, 07:46:49 am »
What is the oldest book on magic and related topics that you've read? Do you think there's any use to studying books that old, or do modern works cover the material better?

The oldest thing I've actually incorporated directly into my practice in some form is Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499). The oldest stuff I've read is more or less Golden Age of Athens. (c. 400 CE) but a lot of that is snippets.

I think there's a lot of benefit in knowing where what you're doing came from. Often by looking at the history, you can figure out where possible glitches might be, or what things were put in place later to help with those glitches.

I prefer learning from other people's mistakes, so figuring that out is both intellectually pleasant for me, and also keeps me from falling on my face.
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RandallS

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Re: The oldest book on magic you've read
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2018, 10:50:21 am »
The oldest thing I've actually incorporated directly into my practice in some form is Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499). The oldest stuff I've read is more or less Golden Age of Athens. (c. 400 CE) but a lot of that is snippets.

Almost all of the Greek and Roman stuff I've read on magic is either snippets or more religious than magical, so I did not count them.
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Re: The oldest book on magic you've read
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2018, 07:02:38 pm »
I think Lesser Key goes dates from the mid-16s.  The oldest works I've looked at were from Agrippa, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, from the early 15s.

Oddly, Agrippa was the very thing I was looking up. I'm thinking of getting a copy; what did you think of it?

(I also found a version online. One nice thing about books this old is that there are out-of-copyright editions floating around.)

Also, nice avatar!

Sefiru

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Re: The oldest book on magic you've read
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2018, 07:03:50 pm »
Does the Greek Magical Papyri count? 

If you read them (even in translation) rather than about them, I'd say it counts!

MadZealot

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Re: The oldest book on magic you've read
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2018, 11:49:07 pm »
Oddly, Agrippa was the very thing I was looking up. I'm thinking of getting a copy; what did you think of it?

(I also found a version online. One nice thing about books this old is that there are out-of-copyright editions floating around.)

Well, it's been awhile, but if I recall, it's more philosophical than practical. Interesting reading, maybe once. I'd definitely look at one of the public domain copies before plonking down $30 for a bloody paperback.


Quote
Also, nice avatar!

Thanks!
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Dynes Hysbys

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Re: The oldest book on magic you've read
« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2018, 04:36:08 am »
If you read them (even in translation) rather than about them, I'd say it counts!

I have - and I use them too! It's interesting that the human preoccupation for spells for obtaining revenge,wealth and sex hasn't changed in centuries.

Sefiru

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Re: The oldest book on magic you've read
« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2018, 06:37:25 pm »
It's interesting that the human preoccupation for spells for obtaining revenge,wealth and sex hasn't changed in centuries.

That does not surprise me in the least.

RandallS

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Re: The oldest book on magic you've read
« Reply #12 on: September 08, 2018, 08:21:24 am »
That does not surprise me in the least.

I would be more surprised if it had changed.
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