Thursday, April 02, 2015

In the Neighbourhood of a Bovine Skull

Got a heavy used hardcover of the ILLUSTRATED ANTHOLOGY OF SORCERY, MAGIC AND ALCHEMY in the mail yesterday, on the recommendation of Jesse Moynihan. Here's what I can say so far: it has a lot of scary old pictures in it, many of them too scary to look at. This one isn't so bad. It's a seventeenth-century drawing of the Witch of Endor. "An owl, a toad, and a snake are moving at large about the circle in the neighbourhood of a bovine skull." That will give you some idea of the author's deadpan style. Here he is on some terrifying engravings of the Witches' Sabbath: "It is important to remark, on this point, that witches emphatically denied kissing the posteriors of the Devil. 'It is not a backside,' they said, with a holy - or diabolic - indignation, 'but a second face that he has under his tail!'"