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A Review of José Leitão: The Bibliotheca Valenciana (Hadean Press: 2017)



This collection of the main Works of Jerónimo Cortez of Valencia who composed his treatises in the 17th Century serves as an extension of Leitãos study in the Iberian Cyprians. Leitão comments in the presentation of his amazing translation work that the book might end up serve as a reference work, and indeed, the sheer volume of more than 600 pages might cause this treasure trove to be a work that is consulted more than worked, which is a pity, because this is a very complete collection of pragmatic and practical folk magic consisting of very much the same content as we find in the Iberian and Nordic Cyprians, albeit less diabolic. This means that we find here recipes for curing toothache and other afflictions as much as finding lost animals, the use of precious stones and herbs for whatever use, magical and mundane, for exploring its virtues or for curing something or someone. We find extensive explorations on astrology, all for practical use and we also fine a most wonderful bestiary where the mouse, unicorn and tiger are all discussed in terms of history, property and whatnot. It is beautiful to see how the pre modern mind worked in terms of not making this material distinction we have today between an animal of fantasy, myth or reality, but instead treated animals, no matter hierarchy and placement in ‘reality’ or the ideal realm in the shared category of ‘animals’.

This work is a fantastic example of the pre modern mind-set, the pragmatic approach to all things sacred where it was all about the practical use for those possessing this knowledge.

When I moved to Brazil I found in the first or second year living here some simple roughly made tracts called lunário perpetuo, and the first volume here – along with the appendix presenting the calculations used in the lunar almanac – gave me a great joy and reminded me that 100 years ago in Brazil knowledge of the stars, plants, animals, some spells for this and that was very common and acceptable part of the folk Catholicism practiced in Brazil (yes imported from Portugal). I couldn’t help sensing a nostalgia entering as I questioned myself why the lunário perpetuo ceased to be popular, in particular amongst farmers and dwellers in the countryside where predictions of weather, curing ailments away from doctors and hospital still is an important matter in Brazil, but I digress… this work follows in the tradition of St. Albert the Great, who as beatified doctor of the Church, won a different renown than our Faustian St. Cyprian…

No matter if it turns into a reference work or a manual for practical use, it is a must for any occult library. You can get your copy here:

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