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3 Occult Books That Offer More Questions Than Answers

The notion of sacred or hidden occult books has been popularized across various forms of media, including the writing of H.P Lovecraft where he makes references to Necronomicon, TV’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s countless occult nods, and films like The Ninth Gate. The Charmed series with its Book of Shadows brought into popular awareness a very real truth that wiccans or witches often keep books in which they record symbols, herbs, spells, astrology, and other such relevant information for easy reference as well as posterity. Such occult books as these are also written by those who practice dark magic. Then there are books so mysterious, so baffling that it’s hard to decipher the underlying intention, as in the case of The Voynich Manuscript.

The Voynich Manuscript

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An excerpt from the Voynich Manuscript.

This manuscript is a codex which was written between 1404 and 1438 and bought in 1912 from a secondhand bookstore in Northern Italy by Wilfrid Voynich, hence the name. The absolutely bizarre thing about this book is that it is written in a code that has confused scholars everywhere. As of yet, no one has managed to break the code. However, the strongest clues to the books purpose are in the illustrations that decorate each page. Although there are pages missing from the book there are still 240 left through which to pore. The Voynich Manuscript seems to be divided into 6 sections:

  • Herbal – this section contains one or two drawings of herbs per page accompanied by a paragraph of writing.
  • Astronomical/Astrological – this section contains circular drawings as well as drawings of the sun, moons, stars, and planets and an area where the astrological symbols are drawn with writing. Each symbol features illustrations of 30 women connected to these stars, either through holding them or being tethered to them with cords. Some of these pages fold out.
  • Biological – text showing naked women fills this section. Some of the women are crowned while others are in pools that are connected by a network of pipes.
  • Cosmological – this section has more circular drawings as well as fold out pages with diagrams, including one of a map with nine islands connected by causeways with castles and a possible volcano.
  • Pharmaceutical – this area has pictures pointing to areas on plants, like roots or leaves, as well as jars of many shapes accompanying text.
  • Recipes – an area where full pages contain short paragraphs beside a star in the left margin.

What does it all mean? Until someone deciphers the code it’s impossible to know. Of all the occult books, it certainly seems to contain some of the most perplexing information.

The Picatrix or The Aim of the Sage

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An illustration taken from the Picatrix.

This is a 400-page book of magic and astrology, written in Arabic sometime in the 10th or 11th century. It’s considered one of the largest and most comprehensive magical texts ever written. It was translated into Spanish, then Latin in the 13th century and got the name The Picatrix. This book contains information derived and synthesized from Hermeticism, Sabianism, and Ismailism as well as older astrology, alchemy, and magical works. It’s been described by researchers as a “handbook of talismanic magic” and “the most thorough exposition of celestial magic in Arabic”.

The Red Dragon or The Grand Grimoire

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A page depicting “spirits” from the Grand Grimoire.

The origins of this book are a little confusing. Some editions seem to date back to 1421, 1521, or 1522. Most scholars agree that the text was written or edited by Antonia Venitiana del Rabina and that the information gathered within it is said to have been collected from the original writings of King Solomon. The book is divided into two sections.

The first section focuses on summoning demons and creating tools to get the demons to do your bidding. The second section focuses on spells and rituals that can be performed once the first half of the book is mastered with a focus on how to make a pact with a demon. This book is still used today and is particularly favored among occult books in Haiti.

As you can see, these occult books differ a little in intention but all contain great mysteries in both origin and content. It sparks the imagination to wonder what other possibilities of reality exist out there.

 

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5 Horrifying Origins of Popular Fairy Tales

Popular fairy tales are part of the collective web that unite many of us, teaching us about mystery, morality, magic and wonder. Thanks to Disney and modern storytelling, many of us have been spared the deeply disturbing truth about these fairy tales; that they are so horrific in their original form that they would scare even the biggest horror fans.

Rapunzel

rapunzel-dame-gothel-popular-fairy-tale-originsIn the original story of this popular fairy tale, a witch called Dame Gothel keeps Rapunzel trapped in a tower alone with all of life’s luxuries, periodically visiting her by climbing the tower using Rapunzel’s hair. Despite Dame Gothel’s best efforts, Rapunzel is visited by a prince with whom she falls in love. On one of her visits, the witch discovers that Rapunzel is pregnant, throwing her into a wild rage in which she cuts off Rapunzel’s hair and banishes her. In the evening, when the prince comes to visit Rapunzel in her tower, he finds Dame Gothel instead who pushes him out of the tower window, causing him to be blinded by thorns. He wanders through the wasteland for months, blindly searching for Rapunzel. Eventually, he is reunited with her and her tears restore his sight.

The Little Mermaid

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Image credit: Edmund Dulac

In this story favorite, the little mermaid visits the sea witch and swaps her tongue for feet so she can see the prince she fell in love with after rescuing him. But every step she takes feels like a thousand knives plunging through her and her toes begin to bleed. As if this weren’t an excruciating enough turn, she’s told that if she doesn’t convince the prince to marry her, she will die on the first dawn he spends married to another. Unfortunately, the prince thinks another woman is responsible for saving him and marries her. In a desperate effort to save her life, the little mermaid’s sisters exchange their hair for a knife from the sea witch. If the little mermaid kills the prince before dawn and pours his blood on her feet, she doesn’t need to die and will be restored as a mermaid. The little mermaid can’t bring herself to kill him and dies instead. As you can see, this popular fairytale had deeply sad beginnings.

Sleeping Beauty

sleeping-beauty-grimm-disturbing-fairy-talesThis popular fairy tale has many wonderful versions you can see in story and film, yet none even begin to touch the bizarre and disturbing original form. In the original tale, a king finds the protagonist sleeping and is so overcome with lust that he rapes her! She bears him 2 children whilst still asleep. One of the infants, trying to suckle her breast, suckles her finger instead, pulling out the splinter and waking her from her deep enchanted slumber. The king’s wife learns about her husband’s deeds. In a murderous rage of jealousy, she tries to cook Sleeping Beauty and the children she bore the rapist king but, before she can succeed, the king murders his maddened wife instead.

Pinocchio

pinocchio-scary-popular-fairy-talesIn the original version of this popular fairy tale, when Pinocchio is given feet, he runs away. He then causes people to think Gepetto is abusing him leading to Gepetto being jailed. When the Talking Cricket advises Pinocchio to go home, the animated marionette accidently kills him with a hammer! The cricket then returns as a ghost to guide Pinocchio. Despite this, the gullible puppet is eventually tricked into believing that he will grow a gold tree if he plants gold coins. The people who tricked Pinocchio then hang him by a rope from a tree, vowing to return when he’s dead in order to steal his gold coins. Ultimately, Pinocchio learns the error of his ways and returns to take care of his father.

Red Riding Hood

little-red-riding-hood-scary-fairy-talesIn this original tale, the wolf kills Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, draining her blood into a wine jar and preparing her meat to offer to Red Riding Hood upon the poor girl’s arrival. Unlike events in modern versions of the popular fairy tale, the wolf, dressed as the grandmother, convinces Red Riding Hood to undress, throw her clothes on the fire, and get into bed, at which point he eats her!

These classic fairy tales were rooted in brutality as a means to dissuade children from actions that were potentially dangerous, much like the cautionary nature of many horror films from modern times. Now that you know their true origins, don’t forget to cast a thought to their horrific beginnings the next time you stumble upon a lighter version of one of these popular fairy tales.