Well, that’s unsettling.
At first glance the title of this article reads like a Hollywood Horror Film. Disinformation doesn’t disappoint, either. They are known for bringing the offbeat to the attention of their readers. Writers, most especially, should frequent their pages.
The title of my post comes from their discovery of Public Domain Review‘s piece on the work. It’s an 18th century manuscript of ill-repute. (I smell an edition of Writing Historical Fiction out of this one!) Since writing my third book, The Shadow Soul, I have had a keen interest on the topics of the paranormal, occult and spiritualism. Human history is rife with examples, but most are mundane and soaked in religiosity.
So what do we have here? To be precise, this manuscript is the Claris Inferni (“The Key of Hell”) by Cyprianus. To explain what that means: a black magic book.
When doing research for The Shadow Soul, I also had misgivings about playing around with such sensitive material. We’ve all heard the warnings of paranormalists and grandma: don’t mess around with that stuff, the devil will get you. So, I guess I like living dangerously—or I don’t believe in boogie men. Let’s say that is because of, regardless of dabbling or deep research, nothing has ever come of it and I am a practical woman. I blame my unease on my base in the Episcopal Church. These things, even if you get away from them as you age, still tend to haunt your actions and thoughts. Though I identify as agnostic, that I believe in some thing we hardly understand coming to us upon our death, I don’t think books, knowledge or even rituals can harm us. That’s not naivety. It’s my appreciation of science and the rules of research and conjecture. Sure, I have experienced things unexplained, but I’m not calling them demons—not yet, anyway.
So don’t fear the title or the subject. Go have a look at a historical artifact with an interesting origination and purpose.
The Claris Inferni (“The Key of Hell”) by Cyprianus, is a late-18th-century book on black magic. Written in a mixture of Latin, Hebrew, and a cipher alphabet (namely that of Cornelius Agrippa’s Transitus Fluvii or “Passing through the River” from the Third Book of Occult Philosophy written around 1510) the book has remained rather mysterious due to its unknown origin and context.
The Key of Hell: an 18th-Century Manual on Black Magic – disinformation
Housed at: Wellcome Library
Found via: The Appendix
Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights