Selections from the Munich Manual

The “Munich Manual of Demonic Magic” (CLM 849 of the Bavarian State Library in Munich) is a fifteenth century grimoire primarily composed in Latin.  The text focuses largely on demonic and necromantic magic, but contains sections on conjuration, astrological magic, and divination as well.  It’s a fascinating example of the medieval and Renaissance magical tradition, and is one of the few whole collections of spells that a magician might have used back in the day.

As a Latinist, and since the book is composed pretty much all in Latin, I’ve tried my hand at translating a few of the selections that might be useful or interesting to a person in my line of Work.  I base my translations off of Richard Kieckhefer’s Forbidden Rites: A Necromancer’s Manual of the 15th Century which is itself full of annotations, a discussion of grimoiric magic, and the kinds of rituals the text contains.  In addition to translating the text, I’ll redraw and relabel any illustrations as necessary.

Some of the rituals have already been translated in the Kieckhefer’s book itself, and others might be found across the Internet.  I’ll give my own takes, notes, and translations on the texts here, though you should probably check out other translations, too, where available.  I’m only human, and Latin’s dead for a number of reasons, some of which are actually decent.

12 Responses to Selections from the Munich Manual

  1. Pingback: Search Term Shoot Back, December 2013 | The Digital Ambler

  2. Fleece Manjenkins says:

    Hi ^u^ A friend of my parent’s just died. Can you translate a ritual that will allow me to talk to him via necromancy?
    My greatest interest has been in magic and the arcane.
    Thank you :D

    • mee says:

      There are ways to contact the deceased other than necromancy. Anything with ‘necromancy’ in the title you should avoid, its pure evil

      • polyphanes says:

        Communication with the dead is what necromancy is. Necromancy literally means “seeing by death/the dead”. Necromancy is no more evil than any other form of divination or spirit communication. You’re getting hung up on the word; why is that?

        • adan says:

          actually necromancy means necro = death mancy = divine (er = bringer)

          • All of the -mancy words (geomancy, pyromancy, bibliomancy, …) are from manteia, which is seeing in the sense of divination. Polyphanes doesn’t need my help here, but I also wanted to point out that you’re trying to correct someone who knows his stuff, so you might want to rethink that.

            • polyphanes says:

              You pay far too much attention to my comment feed, my friend. <3 Besides, I don't expect everyone to know my education or expertise, so I don't take offense to adan. It's just the Internet, after all.

              • Ha. I pay too much attention to email in general, actually. In passing, though: do you know of any link νευκος – νεικος? (Hope I am spelling those right). The latter’s what Empedocles used as an opposite to φιλιά.

                • polyphanes says:

                  I don’t, but I also didn’t use “neukos”. I used “nekuo-“, either “nekus” (dead) or “nekros” (corpse). “Nekus” and “neikos” have distinct Indo-European roots (the former from *nek- “death, natural death” and the latter from *neik- “attack, start vehemently”). Beyond that, I dunno.

          • polyphanes says:

            If by “divine” you mean “divination”, then yes, we’re in agreement; it’s not “divine” in the sense of the inherent divinity of the gods, otherwise. Originally, the original use of necromancy in ancient Greece (appropriately called “nekuomanteia”, not “nekromanteia”, as there’s a similar meaning but distinct difference between “nekuo” and “nekro”) was used to communicate with the dead and obtain information from them much as one might get information from symbols drawn in earth or dice thrown on a table. Over time, the field of necromancy was naturally expanded to include the method of raising the dead so as to communicate with them, hence the modern fantastical notion of raising zombies and the like as “necromancy”; however, actual necromancy does not do this, but still seeks to communicate with the dead and have the dead work for you.

  3. Shan says:

    Been looking for a translated version forever. Where can I find your work?

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