The Leipzig Grimoire Conference
It is rare thing to be able to share such good news. While Germany is the homeland of the Faustian tradition and in the 1980s provided one of the most active backdrops for the emergence of modern Chaos magic, it's magical scene since then has long stopped existing. At least that is what one might think when judging from the outside - counted by the number of serious magical publications or related conferences.
This September the University of Leipzig is making a bold move to break this long-standing trend amongst domestic academic and occult circles. Of all things it is the Leipzig Faculty of Theology that is now turning into the possible soil and seed of resurgence...
Over three full days, from September 14th to 16th the department has organised the most comprehensive academic conference on the Grimoire tradition under the title of: 'Books of Magic – Words of Magic – Cultures of Magical Knowledge from Antiquity to Modern Times'.
More than 20 dedicated, original lectures cover the subject from the Chaldean Oracles, Abraham of Worms' Book Abramelin, Grimoires in the Russian tradition, all the way to modern facets such as Magic in Politics or the (arguable) fictional-tradition of Lovecraft's Necronomicon. As you can see from the booklet below four of the actual talks will be held in English while the majority of talks and discussions are planned to take place in German language.
Here is how the organisers are introducing the conference themselves (translation by myself):
'Magic: the dark side of religion? A private 'non-public' current of religion? Or something entirely different? Only in the last few years has it really emerged how little serious research attention yet has been paid to 'magic' as an aspect of Western culture. The manuscripts of magic ('magical books') are among the least known and even edited texts of the Western knowledge history. The stereotype has long been disproved, magic would always be a matter of folk-tradition, i.e. primarily a matter of peasant culture or the like. Magic had its place in princely courts as well as in the study rooms of clerics, doctors and scholars. But who exactly has written and read such texts as the Clavicula Solomonis, the Grand Grimoire, the 6th and 7th Book of Moses, the Jewish Sepher Raziel, the Romanus Booklet, or the Höllenzwänge of the Dr. Faust and similar books? And what about the magical book as a literary motif, from the medieval 'Book of Zabulon' to H. P. Lovecrafts 'Necronomicon'? How do such traditions relate to the 'Books of Shadow' of the neopagan Wicca movement? And are parts of this tradition already a component of the Greek-Egyptian magic papyri of Late Antiquity?
The First Leipzig Magic Conference is the first international conference on magical ritual texts, which focuses on multiple epochs. The focus is on magical texts from antiquity to the 20th century. Particular attention is paid to the Leipzig Magica Collection of the Albertina, one of the largest collections of magical manuscripts in a European library.'
As part of the conference a walk through the famous Collection Albertina will be made possible to attendees. This rare collection of grimoires has only come into possession of the University Library in 1962; it's first mentioning stems from a catalogue by Ernst Naumann dated 1840. Since 2011 its entire German-language inventory has been digitalised and made accessible online here. And as the commitment of the Leipzig Faculty of Theology seems to go beyond a single conference, it's already planning an in-depth public exhibition of the collection for 2019.
Of course such dedication to the resurgence of magic is rewarded by fate. It's of small wonder therefore that just this week the discovery of a 10.000 pages strong, previously unknown 17th century ritual collection was made amongst the vast archive of the library. (You can read the full German newspaper article here. Thanks for the hint, Tobias.) This newly discovered collection of roughly 140 manuscripts is estimated to be worth several million dollars at least, if not priceless at all. Yet even during the time of its emergence in the 18th century it would have been valued at the cost of several large houses in the old-town of Leipzig.
-- So here is my condolence to all non-German speakers, as well as my invitation to come and join me on this conference to everyone who lives close enough. Some heavy shuffling of schedules and a lot of compromise on the side of my wife made it possible for me to attend at least the first two days.
I am looking forward to seeing you in Leipzig. And for everyone who won't be able to make it - watch this space in autumn for some longer blog posts covering the event.
Program of the Conference
'Books of Magic – Words of Magic'