The Book of Secrets of Albertus Magnus. $18.95.
Of the Virtues of Herbs, Stones, and Certain Beasts, Also a Book of the Marvels of the World
In order to attract readers, it was not uncommon for magical texts of the 16th century to take on the name of a notable historical figure. Such is the case with this text, whose secrets are, in fact, a compilation from a number of sources. The anonymous author is likely a follower of Albertus Magnus.
Though it “…pretends to be a product of his experimental school among the Dominicans at Cologne,” it has a more colloquial voice than that of Albertus Magnus. It more accurately portrays the popular magical literature available in the 16th century than the erudite works directly attributable to Albertus Magnus.
The secrets revealed are divided into five distinct parts:
- Of the Virtues of Herbs– describes 23 herbs, their magical, astrological, and medicinal properties. Also includes preparations and recipes.
- Of the Virtues of Stones– presents 45 entries from the lapidary of Albertus Magnus, Mineralia, listed by their particular effect or specific magical property.
- Of the Beasts– Lists 18 animals, their natural powers, and their use in performing magical feats.
- Of the Planets– A treatise on the hours of the day governed by the various planets. Also, a discussion of their astrological qualities.
- The Marvels of the World– A theoretical discussion of magic. Emphasizes the necessity of experiment, followed by a large number of recipes from various sources.
This edition features an in-depth introduction by scholars Michael R. Best and Frank H. Brightman. Their writing outlines the history of the text, its historical and cultural context, and the variant manuscripts sourced. It is an invaluable study for students of the history of Western magic. Additionally, it is a great asset for those who study the evolution of printed works.
About the author:
Albertus Magnus (d. 1279) is one of the foremost alchemists of the 13th century. After a career in the church that culminated with his appointment as Bishop of Ratisbon, Magnus retired to Cologne to devote his life to research. According to one account, he is purported to have created the Philosopher’s Stone.