Saturday, September 14, 2019

More Petit Albert Spells

In my last post, I introduced Le Petit Albert, a real world book of spells published in the 1700s and written in French (real world as in this book actually exist and was quite popular, I'm not claiming the spells work!).  I think this is interesting both from a historical perspective, and also from a gaming point of view.  I'm still compiling stats and I'm not ready to have some kind of RPG-usable conversion, so for now, let's simply translate a few mores shall we?

First, this interesting spell is, well, quite "easy".  Anyone could do this - I'm not recommending trying it, but you could if you wanted.  Gaming wise, could there be a use to putting a horse down?  It's quite situational, but yes.  For example,  gambling on a horse race?  Keeping someone from chasing you?

To make a horse fall as if it were dead.

You will have a serpent tongue that you will coat in virgin wax, and you will put it in the left ear of a horse, he will fall to the ground as if he was dead; and as soon as you remove it, he will get up sturdier than before; one should not leave the tongue too long (in the horse), out of concern that it may be harmful to the horse.

One run on sentence but it's not too long, only two ingredients, and even some concern for the welfare of the horse.  I like this one!

Ok, let's go the other way and go for the absolute bonkers.  This spell is right after the "make a magic candle to seem headless" spell I translated in my last post, so we are in the "make freaky illusions" portion of the book.

Other on the same topic

If you want that all those who are in a room to appear in the form of great elephants or of horses, you will make a perfume in this manner.  One must crush alkekenge (winter cherry, Chinese lantern) with dolphin fat, and make small grains out of it, of the size of lemon seeds; then you will have dung from a cow that is not nursing a veal; you will dry this dung well, so that you that you could burn it, and you will have the entertainment (or diversion, the word could mean either) that you wished for, as long as the room is well sealed so that smoke could only escape by the door.

Oh boy, where to begin!  The ingredients are pretty straightforward at least (good luck getting dolphin fat these days though!).  But what are you trying to achieve?  Is this a party trick to wow people, or some kind of disguise/ploy/distraction?  It's not clear.  Either way the means of achieving it are... not very practical.  You essentially have to take your little grease balls and burn them on a dung fire.  I don't care if you are throwing a party or doing some shenanigans, in either case a dung fire is freakishly inconvenient!  Lastly I note how what to do with the dung and the grains is never stated, merely implied - I've deduced that you are to burn them, but I could be wrong.

Onward to something a bit more sensible:  Making your gun (ie musket) shoot further.

To make a gun's range be double as normal

You need, for example, for two ounces of good powder, to add one ounce of coarsely crushed white pepper, and mixt it well together; load your gun with said powder and add a bit more than usual, and on top of this powder put on camphor that you will ram well, then put the bullet, wrapped with paper, a pistol will shoot as far as a musket. 

So far so good - the spell is useful and relatively straightforward, the translation is not too difficult.  If you did this in real life it probably would result in a much more impressive shot (the bits of crushed pepper would fly out making lots of a spark).  I don't *think* it would actually make the bullet go farther nor make your gun explode, but please don't try this at home.  Unfortunately, the spell is not done.

You also take an herb that is called psillon; it is a seed that one harvests during the sign of the Lion: this herb has small seeds like mustard; and one burns it in the barrel of the gun, by reddening the barrel in a forge, and it's done.

I'm not entirely sure about this second half of the spell - I can't determine what herb is psillon - is it psyllium? I think the idea is this is some kind of "enchantment" you must do the gun for the enhanced powder to work, but I'm not sure.  Is this for every shot?  I also note that heating the barrel like that could affect the heat treatment of the gun and make it more liable to burst, I would *not* advise you do this without proper research and skills!

You also would think that this part of the spell should have gone first... I sometimes feel frustrated by my mediocre writing skills, but reading this Grimoire makes me feel a *little* bit better because it could be much worse...

Last spell for today will be a talisman.  One group of talisman is attributed to Paracelsus, the father of toxicologist but also an alchemist and a bit of a braggard.  They use the beneficial power of planets to bring benefits to the wearer.  Each of them has a a specific day they must be worn on.  These are quite complex, and I'm going to translate one of the easier ones. 

Talisman of Saturn, on Saturdays
This talisman must be formed on a round disk of lead, well purified, and on one side we will print the mysterious number of 15 distributed in lines, in the following formation:

2 4 9
7 5 3
6 1 8

(a comparison with the version by Agrippa is included in the Grimoire for some reason, I'm not sure if this was included by the original author or the website maker, this is simply a different ordering of the numbers)

On the other side of the disk, we will print the hieroglyphic figure of the planet, which will be a bearded elder, holding in his hand some kind of pick-axe or mattock, and above his head a star, with this word, Saturn.  One will begin the impression of the mysterious figures with ferremens (iron fittings?) at the moment we predicted that the constellation of Saturn (Saturn is *not* a constellation!) is in a favorable aspect, with the moon entering in the first degree of the sign of Taurus or the Capricorn.    And once the operation (the work) is done, you will wrap the talisman in a piece of black silk.

(the image can be seen here , and that's clearly a scythe, not a pick-axe! )

This talisman is a great succor, first, for women who are having a hard labor, for they will suffer almost no pain; this is what has been tested many times, with a happy success, by people of quality who were subjects to miscarriages.  The talisman also multiply and augment the things in which one puts it.  If a horseman wears it in his left boot, his horse will not be able to be injured.  The talisman has all the contrary effects as those listed above, when it is made at a time where the constellation of Saturn is in a situation that favors misfortune, and the moon is retrograde in the above mentioned signs (Taurus or Capricorn)

There are several other such talismans, and several are even more complex. I think that some may have potential for gaming, but translating all of them is beyond me.  I also note how … polyvalent this talisman is.  On one hand it has a very specific effect (protection vs miscarriage, a very laudable goal) and the other is "multiply and augment things", which is … very broad.  How to adjudicate this in a game?   The "anti-talisman" is, IMO, black magic - something that makes women miscarry is quite nasty.

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