Monday, November 23, 2009

Akos Pakos

Hello literate masses! Good to see you again. Recently, I've been reading a very interesting book that I hope will interest you all. Have you ever wondered where the term "Hocus Pocus" and "Abra Kadabra" came from? Have you ever been curious as to why salt, water and blood are so important in culture, and in magic? Have the spirits and amulets ever interested you? What about the origin of the names of angels and the gods? Then this is the book for you!

Joshua Trachtenberg's "Jewish Magic and Superstition" (1935) is a great overall introduction to all the facets of Jewish magic in the medieval era until now. It covers amulets to incantations, spirits to divination, names to exorcisms. Albeit, the chapter on names is a little dry, and some of the chapters can be too wordy, but generally this is a very accessible, academic book on the topic of early Jewish, Western European and some Christian magics and superstitions and the real reasons behind them, and the reasons why they are or aren't in practice now.

It's sixteen chapters are an everything you want to know guide to these topics. That being said, it is true that, as a result of it being written so early in the 20th Century it is, perhaps, of the academic language persuasion, but it is still a very accessible book. Though, fair warning, there are some paragraphs and quotes entirely in other languages (German, Italian, Latin, etc.) which remain untranslated by the author, as the expectation was that the readership knew these languages, though I believe that contemporary publishings of this book do give translations of these passages in the notes.

Hope you enjoy it. Mahalo.

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