Top critical review
51 people found this helpful
Don't try this at home, kids
on September 7, 2008
The *Sixth* and *Seventh* Books of Moses? Now, they can't *possibly* be genuine, can they?
And, of course, they are not. "The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses" is a collection of magical spells and amulets, first published in Germany in 1849. The work is based on earlier manuscripts and pamphlets, and the core of the material is derived from a Latin work, "Liber Razielis", known from the 16th century and perhaps compiled earlier. That work, in turn, is very loosely based on a Jewish Kabbalistic text from the Middle Ages, "Sefer Raziel HaMalach". In other words, the 1849 edition is something of an end product of several centuries of European folk magic. For some reason, "The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses" became very popular in the United States, among African-American practitioners of Hoodoo, amongst others.
To be perfectly honest, the book is completely uninteresting, unless you have a strong obsession with folk magic, or perhaps love to practice the craft yourself. I've seen other magical texts that can be read for their entertainment value even by the casual reader ("Ancient Christian Magic. Coptic Texts of Ritual Power" comes to mind), but this work is only for hard-liners.
"The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses" claims to be a secret revelation given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, and then passed on to Aaron, Joshua, David, Salomon (who found it engraved on golden plates, Book of Mormon style!) and Zadok, who for some reason hid the ancient documents (Moroni style?). They were supposedly found in AD 330 by Constantine the Great, translated by Pope Julius II during the Renaissance, and finally ended up in the hands of the Habsburg Emperor Charles V, who threatened anyone who printed the magical diagrams with excommunication, but otherwise highly recommended the work.
Yeah, right. Somehow, I'm disappointed that whoever wrote this stuff couldn't come up with a better legend than *that*!
The rest of the book contains the usual magickal arcana: spells supposedly used by Moses when he confronted the Pharaoh, magical seals containing mysterious Hebrew characters, long lists of angels and demons, spells based on the Psalter that can do anything from help you win a court case to destroy your wicked enemies, incantations to strike people with the plague, etc, etc.
The 1849 edition also contained a curious foreword, apparently excerpted from a book by Joseph Ennemoser, a writer on matters occult. It's unclear whether Ennemoser had been notified of this, or whether the publisher simply pilfered his text without asking. Be that as it may, Ennemoser's introduction is also included in this modern edition of the "black Bible". It's a very confusing piece of work, in which Ennemoser tries to have it both ways. On the one hand, he claims that the Biblical miracles had nothing to do with sorcery or witchcraft (they were divine, mind you!), but on the other hand, he mentions various Biblical episodes that sound...well, magical.
I'm not saying this edition of "The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses" is bad. On the contrary, I'm sure it's interesting for members of Dragon Rouge, Golden Dawn, OTO or whatever else is out there, but personally I'm going to place it on my bookshelf, and boldly go after other pursuits.