Is someone interested in magic or spell?

Unique collection of thousands of spells The magical secret of the Leipzig university library

Old, yellowed pages of paper lie in front of the reader who dares to take a look at the magical collection. The compendium of spells and magical rituals from the Leipzig University Library, which has caused quite a stir in the past few days, comprises 140 thin and thick notebooks.

Who was the sorcerer's apprentice?

Someone took the trouble to collect well-known spells, ancient incantations and rituals by hand 300 years ago.
Thomas Fuchs, Professor for Special Collections at the Leipzig University Library, watches over the magical books. He suspects that it was not the desire for magic that drove the author (s). It was the time of the Enlightenment and the writers probably wanted to show those around them how progressive they were themselves compared to people before their time. Fuchs believes the books are a collection of curiosities full of fantasies.

Daniel Bellingradt, junior professor for book studies at the University of Erlangen, and his colleague Bernd-Christian Otto, religious scholar at the University of Erfurt, have read the Magical Collection in Leipzig intensively. They claim to have located an early collector of the works: A relatively unknown Leipzig doctor named Samuel Schröer is said to have obtained the works from unknown sources around 1700. According to the scientists, there was a great deal of interest in magical scripts, especially among doctors in the 18th century. It was not only theoretical interest, doctors are said to have tested spells very practically.

Only the rich could afford the magic work

The texts in Leipzig are part of what is known as scholarly magic. They weren't for everyone.

That is very, very sensitive knowledge. That is power knowledge, and also always forbidden knowledge. This only ever happens among scholars who can write and read, who also have money and are also looking for power and access to such topics.

Daniel Bellingradt, junior professor for book studies at the University of Erlangen

These works were subject to censorship and should be kept secret from the public. Princes owned such writings, monasteries stored them, doctors studied them in secret. Bellingradt believes that the richest of the rich have succumbed to the charm of the forbidden.

It is questionable whether people really hocus-pocus with the magic spells back then. Evidence of successful magic rituals is in short supply. But there are indications:

We just happened to get the price for this collection that we have here. This is being sold for the equivalent of two to three inner-city houses in Leipzig. Contemporary. And we take that as an indication that it was not considered complete nonsense.

Daniel Bellingradt, junior professor for book studies at the University of Erlangen

And the books describe very precisely how the magic is to be carried out: just as recipes in cookbooks today make (almost) every dish a success. The conclusion is that the spells were not just 'read'.

Daniel Bellingradt, however, is less interested in whether the rituals were actually used. For him, the side effects are more exciting: the collection ended up in Leipzig via detours and provides insights into the trade of forbidden and expensive books in the 18th century. The texts were written in German at a time when most of the texts were still in Latin. They should possibly be shown to a wider audience. With ten thousand pages, the Leipzig Magic Code is one of the largest collections of magic and is a fund for historians and cultural scientists. In a way, it shows that sorcery is consistently a part of human history. Whether it works or not.

Radio | 08/18/2017 | 6:45 a.m.