Messengers

by Anne Siems

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On Incunabula and Sorcerers in the Catholic Church

I mentioned on Twitter the other day that I made a fun discovery while cleaning out my desk.  A few years back I purchased a page from an incunabulum (nerd word for early printed book, pre-1500) from my favorite book collector downtown.  It was dated 1479, and I mostly purchased it because a large capital Q in the middle of the page was illuminated to look kind of like a Hawaiian shirt, which I found simultaneously hilarious and beautiful.

I finally got around to mounting the page to hang up by my bookshelf, and while I was straightening the frame on the wall, a word in the text caught my eye.  Sortilegi.  My excitement grew when I saw, in the same paragraph a few short lines below, divinationis.

I quickly picked out a key phrase and punched it into the Google.  The one result confirmed my suspicion.

It turns out that the page I had purchased solely for its aesthetic value (shame, I know), is from a page of St. Isidore’s Etymologiae, a 7th century encyclopedia, and from a chapter on Magi and sorcery, no less!  I spent a few minutes bounding around the apartment in glee at this stroke of luck, and now I am looking forward to spending some quality time with it to decipher more specifics of what the text addresses.  I don’t expect it to be too friendly towards the sortilegi, given that Isidore was an Archbishop, but it might have some tantalizing details hidden between the lines of condemnation.

Speaking of practitioners under the eyes of the Catholic church, I have some very exciting news!  I was alerted that a local branch of the church was looking for someone to help out in their archives.  After a little more bounding around the apartment at the prospect of this opportunity and quickly dabbing on some Crown of Success oil, I emailed the contact person my background and interest.

All I can say is that batch of oil must have been potent, because in less than half an hour the archives director called me up with an incredibly friendly “you’re a perfect fit!”  *bound bound bound*

So on Monday morning, bright and early, I’ll be creeping down into the vault to check out the archives and meet the staff.  I am SO excited.

…Now if only I could find a similarly thrilling gig that will pay me.  Oh, well; all things in time, right?
I hope the words are popping off the page in wondrous ways where you are, too.

Love,
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