The legend behind cursed books and manuscripts have been feared and reported on since humans first started writing. This is some of the cursed books and manuscripts throughout history.
How could a piece of writing be cursed? Letters of ink written on a piece of paper is seemingly could cause no harm. But the truth is that curses on paper was and to some extent, still is widely used, as curses goes. A book curse was a commonly employed method of discouraging the theft of manuscripts during the medieval period. Books and manuscripts was something of the most valuable things once upon the time. The use of book curses dates back much further however, to pre-Christian times, when the wrath of gods was invoked to protect books and scrolls.
The earliest known book curse can be traced to King of Assyria from 668 to 627 BCE as he placed curses on many of his tablets. In the middle ages, many of these curses promised harsh repercussions would be inflicted on anyone who appropriated the work from its proper owner. Like this:
“If anyone take away this book, let him die the death; let him be fried in a pan; let the falling sickness and fever seize him; let him be broken on the wheel, and hanged. Amen.”
A much harsher penalty than today’s libraries fees. Some books we today have a better understanding over, some books are claims we can’t prove or disprove. And some, we don’t understand at all. Here are some of the cursed books and manuscripts.
The Voynich manuscript is an illustrated codex handwritten in an unknown writing system. It is perhaps the most well known manuscript that no one knows how to read. And that is part of the mystery, as the author and content is part of the allure and the mystery behind these pages.
The vellum on which it is written has been carbon-dated to the early 15th century and may have been composed during the Renaissance in Italy. Some of the pages are also missing. making it difficult to decipher. It is also a theory that it’s made as a hoax, just a joke.
It is a weird piece of manuscript with weird stuff in it. Although we can’t read the text itself, the pictures is strange enough. Weird, naked women running around, botanical works and the likes.
And just as with any thing we don’t understand, the rumors of it being cursed and containing information not meant for us, spreads. And the mystery of the origins of the manuscripts continues to puzzle the experts.
The Untitled Grimoires
Cursed books and manuscripts turns out to be very expensive. And this one was sold for $13,865 when auctioned off. These grimoires (a sort of spell book, or book of magic) was handwritten in a spiral notebook in the 60’s, so one of the more newer cursed manuscripts.
The author was the wiccan high priestess Persephone Adrastea Eirene and they came with warnings of a curse as well. But let us hope that the buyer were not scared for any curse. In the book it is written, both in English and in Theban (the ancient alphabet modern Wiccans use).
“To those not of the craft – the reading of this book is forbidden! Proceed no further or justice will exact a swift and terrible retribution – and you will surely suffer at the hand of the craft.”
The Codex Gigas – The Devil’s Bible
This cursed book named The Codex Gigas is also known as the Devil’s Bible because of a very unusual full-page portrait of the devil, and the legend surrounding its creation. As cursed books and manuscripts goes, this is one of the largest one.
It is the largest extant medieval illuminated manuscript in the world and tests to recreate the work, it is estimated that reproducing only the calligraphy, without the illustrations or embellishments, would have taken twenty years of non-stop writing.
According to legend, the Codex was created by Herman the Recluse. The legend goes there was a scribe monk who broke his monastic vows and was sentenced to be walled up alive.
In order to avoid this harsh penalty he promised to create in one night a book to glorify the monastery forever, including all human knowledge. Near midnight, he became sure that he could not complete this task alone so he made a special prayer, not addressed to God but to the fallen angel Lucifer, asking him to help him finish the book in exchange for his soul. The devil completed the manuscript and the monk added the devil’s picture out of gratitude for his aid.
The Orphan’s Story – Historia del Huérfano
It took four hundred years after it was written to it got published. The Orphan’s Story, charts the progress of a 14-year-old Spaniard who leaves Granada and heads to the Americas to seek his fortune.
When academic Belinda Palacios started working on the story she was warned about the curse that was over the book.
“When I started working on it, a lot of people told me that the book was cursed and that people who start working on it die I laughed it off but I was a bit apprehensive at the same time. It’s taken a while because the people who have worked on it have died – one from a strange disease, one in a car accident and another of something else.”
But so far, it looks like Palacios is safe, even after spending two years translating the old book.
The Book of Soyga
The Book of Soyga, also titled Aldaraia, is a 16th-century Latin book on magic, one copy of which was owned by the Elizabethan scholar John Dee. After Dee’s death, the book was thought lost until 1994, when two manuscripts were located in the British Library. In addition to that, the book is also thought to be extremely cursed.
Dee’s friend and fellow occultist, Edward Kelley, are said to have summoned the archangel Uriel and questioned him about the meaning of the final 36 pages of the book they were unable to decipher. This was just something they did, all in the queen’s favor.
The angel, who spoke through Kelley, claimed that the book was created when Adam entered Paradise. It could only be properly interpreted by Archangel Michael himself. Also, the angel stated that the book was cursed: anyone who deciphers the meaning of the coded tables would inevitably die two and a half years later.
As soon as it was announced that the Book of Sogya was found in the British library, cryptographers tried to decipher the meaning of its final 36 pages. It wasn’t until 2006, when historian and cryptographer Jim Reeds, gave an algorithm for solving the encrypted tables
He found that it had incantations and instructions on magic, astrology, demonology, lists of conjunctions, lunar mansions, and names and genealogies of angels.
And as far as we know, Jim Reeds is alive and well and not befallen to the cursed books and manuscripts.
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