Rare spell books sell for $13,865 but beware of the curse
Just days before All Hallow’s Eve, two handwritten, spiral-bound books of spells have sold on AbeBooks.com for $13,865, but the buyer risks being cursed if they are not a believer in witchcraft. The opening page of the first of the two grimoires (that’s a magical textbook) is inscribed with the haunting warning:
“To those not of the craft – the reading of this book is forbidden! Proceed no further or justice will exact a swift and terrible retribution – and you will surely suffer at the hand of the craft.”
The same warning is then inscribed again in Theban, an ancient alphabet used in modern Wicca to hide magical text from those who do not believe in witchcraft. The author, a witch, has signed the page using the Theban alphabet. Let’s hope the buyer is a real-life Hermione and not a Muggle.
According to Wiccan traditions, a witch’s Book of Shadows, or grimoire, should be burned after the witch’s death to keep their magical identity a secret. This ritual makes grimoires very scarce and a sale of this nature is highly unusual.
The grimoires were handwritten in the 1960s by a high priestess of Wicca called Persephone Adrastea Eirene, an American witch of Swedish and English ancestry who led her own coven. The first of the two books is a reworking of Persephone’s mother’s grimoire and contains hundreds of years of Wicca knowledge passed through generations of high priestesses in 250 pages of spells, incantations, curses and enchantments. The book includes information on gems, planets, rites, potions, and even exorcisms. The second book includes alchemy, chemistry recipes, cures, ceremonial perfumes and balms, as well as recipes for nerve tonics, liqueurs and even hairspray.
Before eventually finding their way to M Benjamin Katz Fine Books & Rare Manuscripts in Toronto, the grimoires belonged to Alice Monseratt, the wife of Israel Regardie. Regardie moved to the UK in the 1920s to work with occult writer Aleister Crowley after reading his masterwork Magick: Liber ABA Book 4. Crowley’s writings have had an enormous impact on the occult, and last year a 1910 edition of Crowley’s The Scented Garden of Abdullah the Satirist of Shiraz sold on AbeBooks for $7,386.
After working closely with Crowley for four years, Regardie left to pen his own occult book, The Tree of Life. He joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and wrote The Golden Dawn: The Original Account of the Teachings, Rites, & Ceremonies of the Hermetic Order after the Order disbanded. He was accused by past members for violating the oath of the Order by revealing secret information, but Regardie believed the information should be shared. Despite the initial backlash, The Golden Dawn is a mainstay in modern occult organizations and magical practices.