I’ve been nerding out on medieval alchemy, witchcraft, and magic books lately. Searching out new and old sources and trying to trace all these influences through centuries of cultures and religions. One of the books I’ve been enjoying a lot is “Grimorium Verum,” edited and translated by Joseph H. Peterson. It’s a translation of the Latin, French, and Italian editions of a handbook of black magic that was published in the early 1800s. (This book offers mysteries of publication and authorship that a person can lose a lot of hours investigating. Consider yourself warned.) This little handbook names demons, is chock full of runes and symbols, and gives instructions on nefarious spells.
There’s a spell titled, “Secret for matching a woman to her appropriate love.” Sounds pretty okay, right? If we’re going to call it her appropriate love, surely it’s about her. Nah. There’s a series of steps to follow that ends with placing a dried apple under “the woman’s pillow, but without her noticing, and in a few days you will see the evidence of her love.” Silly me, thinking the woman should have some say in what’s appropriate to her.
There’s another “to make a woman love you.” It’s exactly what you’d expect: swallow some nutmeg and intone a spell while blowing into the nose of your chosen woman. So easy! You’ve probably got nutmeg in your kitchen right now! Then you just need to get close enough to the woman to blow in her nose while chanting some Latin. Her alarm over this turn of events will surely be offset by her love for you. Imagine the meet-cute story you’ll be able to tell your children!
If you’d rather, there’s also the spell “to make a woman seek you, even if she is not inclined.” Or maybe you’re not looking for a relationship. In that case, you can cast the spell “to make a young woman dance nude.”
Ah, the lovely face of the patriarchy.
You might think I’m choosing only certain spells in order to make a feminist point. To allay such suspicion, I’ll tell you about the single spell in the entire handbook that benefits women in relation to men. This is the one “to make a husband faithful.” The instructions are thus: “Take marrow from the left leg of a wolf, and with it fill a case of St. Lucia wood. Wrap the case with a piece of velvet, and carry it with you. If you are reasonable and not too demanding, your husband will love no one but you.”
I think we should all stick to the “secret for traveling twenty miles an hour” and “winning at dice,” along with UncouthCuration’s very own spell “to fuck the patriarchy.” That last one involves a sharp wit, political action, both patient and angry debate, and a lot of energy spent on supporting women of every color and nation.