sábado, 1 de mayo de 2010

The Devil's Prayer Book

Elizabeth Ann St. George, author or editor of The Necronomicon or the Book of Shades (see previous entry), also authored The Devil’s Prayer Book (Rigel, 1974, recently re-issued by Corvus –the same imprint as St. George’s Necronomicon- as The Rites of Shadow and this time, it seems, credited to St. George), which is apparently a non-entirely-accurate version of one of the several existing versions of the Gardnerian Liber Umbrarum or Book of Shadows, published by somebody who merely signed as “a Witch”; I suppose this is how parts of said book originally became known by the general public. I find it curious that St. George published the Book of Shadows anonymously and (I’m told, since I didn’t check that part when I briefly had the book in my hands) filled with overdramatic statements about how her life was endangered because the coven she stole it from would seek revenge (which is hilarious and insulting at once when we realize that she means a Wica coven, since, on one hand, they’d very likely have hexed her good and proper, but on the other hand would not have sent evil assassins on her trail as the book seems to suggest), when in later years she was a Wiccan teacher and high priestess, much loved by her students. The book, which I must admit I haven’t read in full but only skimmed through at one oportunity, appears to cast a few sinister overtones upon the entire Gardnerian trappings, but I can’t shake off the feeling that she wrote tongue-in-cheek.

It’s worth mentioning that St. George’s version of the Gardnerian BOS, including her adapted versions of the inner-circle names of the Lord and Lady, became the foundation of a lot of Wiccan recensions in Spain, something owed largely, I suspect, to Spanish best-selling occult writer, astrologer, and occult pop star Felix Llauge, known as “el Mago Felix” (Magus Felix, or perhaps Magician Felix, both thanslations apply). His books, which reflect his habits of using any magical system or method that crosses his path and jumbling it all together, actually contain some good stuff in the middle of the weird mix, and the Wiccan material usually comes from St. George’s book. I might be wrong in my assessment of Felix’s influence, but given his status as a loud mediatic celebrity, and prolific author,it seems quite likely that it was he that caused materials from The Devil’s Prayer Book to spread so much among Spanish magicians and New Age enthusiasts.

In regards to the names of the deities of the Wica, I noticed that MacMorrighan posted at Chas S. Clifton’s blog:

“the so-called ‘secret’ Gardnerian names for the God and the Goddess, which have been previously published, but almost NO ONE knows this-- they merely accept it at face-value, I think, that it's still an alledged Gardnerian ‘secret’. Anyway, according to my informants, who were both initially trained in Traditional Gardnerian Covens, Their so-called ‘true names’ were published in a few articles from the *very* early 70s in British Pagan magazines, as well as one book, which offers a very early look at Wiccan ritual: ‘The Devil's Prayer Book,’ recently re-published as ‘Rites of Shadow’. This is an absolutely lovely book!”

I found this curious since said names, widely published by Felix Llauge in Spanish-speaking countries, were said by a Wiccan initiate to be actually inaccurate, with the order of the syllables altered if I remember right. This occurred at the community Sendero Pagano back when it was hosted in MSN (I believe it still holds archived copies of old debates). While the reader would probably recognize the name of the person who told us this, I’ve seen some of his flamers at work so I’ll omit his identity to keep things cooler. What I find intriguing is that while he considered the names as modified, MacMorrighan’s informants appear to acknowledge them as accurate. Not such a big deal, of course; I suppose that, if the names are truly accurate, some branches of Gardnerianism changed them in order to mantain secrecy of their inner workings, or maybe the names were changed by some outbranching groups in order to have a distinct praxis from their colleagues.

St. George’s ominous presentation of the Wiccan BOS is doubly strange when we consider that she presents her Necronomicon light-heartedly and mocking its sinister fame, even saying that Al Rashid’s ghost might accuse Lovecraft of character defamation!

I am intrigued by this. Maybe she merely needed an encore after revealing “the secret rites of witches” and finding “the” Necronomicon was just the right thing? Why and how did she publish this? Her autobiographical book, from what Daniel Harms describes of it in The Necronomicon Files, presents her as a ceremonial magician, yet in later years whe was widely known as a Wiccan; how does this fit the publication of the BOS? Also, did she confide anything to anybody concerning the origins of The Book of Shades? So many questions...

I find myself hoping that somebody who knew the late Elizabeth Ann St. George (she died in April 2008) will read this at some point and shed light on the matter?

2 comentarios:

  1. good blog
    i'm seeking for occult books on summoning spirits, if you know any to recommend, i would be grateful
    I'm trying to get this book "Devil's Prayer Book" in Poland, but cannot succee.

  2. Try my Ebay page chattering-magpie as I have a duplicate copy.

    It is a fascinating work and I have known people who knew her well.