Library Seeks Witches to Translate 17th-Century Spell Book Jul 20, 2017 1:47:17 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Jul 20, 2017 1:47:17 GMT -5
Library Seeks Witches to Translate 17th-Century Spell Book
Calling all witches and warlocks … or library enthusiasts.
Chicago’s Newberry Library is crowdsourcing translations for three 17th-century manuscripts of spells, charms and magic. Handwritten in archaic Latin and English, the three texts, The Book of Magical Charms, The Commonplace Book and Cases of Conscience Concerning Witchcraft are currently available online under the independent research library’s “Transcribing Faith” portal.
“You don’t need a Ph.D to transcribe,” Christopher Fletcher, coordinator of the project told Smithsonian.com. “[The initiative] is a great way to allow the general public to engage with these materials in a way that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise.”
So far, experts have figured out that The Book of Magical Charms – written by two anonymous witches (probably) in England in the 1600s – contains spells to cheat at dice, ease menstrual cramps and speak with spirits.
Increase Mather, the Puritan minister who presided over the Salem Witch Trials, wrote Case of Conscience Concerning Witchcraft defending the executions while also criticizing the court’s admittance of “spectral evidence” – which was when a witness testified that he/she saw a witch in a vision or dream.
The third text, The Commonplace Book, is a collection of religious and moral questions, along with passages by famous Christian authors. The library believes multiple authors contributed as the pages go back and forth between print, cursive, Latin and English.
“Ultimately, the crowdsourced contributions are making these manuscripts more accessible to researchers and they’re setting the stage for fresh insights about the coexistence of Christianity and magic, as well as the role that religion played in private and public life in the 16th and 17th centuries,” Alex Teller, director of communications for Newberry Library, told Chicagoist.
All together, the texts contain 522 yellowed pages, with approximately 170 left to decode. Newberry is including them as part of a larger exhibition, “Religious Change: 1450-1700” scheduled to open in September.
Source: Lauren Tousignant, The New York Post, July 14, 2017.