If you like your self-help books to feature Medieval Jewish magic, The Book of Abramelin is for you.
Thought to have been written by the German Jewish Talmudist Rabbi Yaakov Moelin around 1608, The Book of Abramelin tells the story of a 15th-century Egyptian mage named Abramelin, who teaches magical and Kabbalistic secrets to Abraham of Worms, a German Jew, who then teaches said magic to his son.
The book describes an elaborate, endlessly complicated ritual, the purpose of which is to obtain “knowledge and conversation” from the practitioner’s “guardian angel.” It involves 18 months of preparation, during which celibacy and abstinence from alcohol must be observed.
All that’s topped off by a trip through the netherworld: Following the year-and-a-half of preparation, the mage summons and mentally conquers the “12 Kings and Dukes of Hell”—which include fun friends from the Talmud like Balaam the talking donkey—and banishes such negative influences from his (or, if you’d like, her) life.
It’s all worth it, though. Abramelin promises that if all of this is accomplished, the rewards include: the ability to find buried treasure, to cast love charms, become invisible, and even the power of flight.
A fictionalized account of the ritual takes place in the chilling 2016 Irish film A Dark Song. Let us know if you, too, decide try it at home.
October 31, 2017