Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Petit Albert Spells - Booze, Birds and Fish - requested translations

Publishing the entire list was a good move, and the fishing spells proved remarkably popular on the OSR Reddit page. Perhaps fishermen are a superstitious lot? Or perhaps they play B/X, I don't know, but I do aim to please!

To enrich yourself by fishing

You will assemble an infinity of fishes in a place where you can easily catch them, if you throw there the following composition. Take ox blood, blood of a black goat, sheep blood from the small intestines, thyme, oregano, flour, marjoram, garlic, wine lees, as well as fat or marrow of the same animals; you will crush all these ingredients together and you will make little balls that you will then thrown in the spot in the river or pond, and you will see wonders.

... it's almost like a stew recipe... do you really need to fish if you have those ingredients? It's an overly complicated bait really.  Wait a minute, this what you readers wanted all along!  Those fishermen sure are cunning!

Other spell on the same topic

To catch great number of crawfish, when you have discovered the area where  they live, you will put there traps in which you have put pieces of goat guts, or a few skinned frogs, and by this mean you will attract a prodigious number of the largest crayfish.

.... this isn't a spell at all!!!  but not all hope is lost:

Other spell on the same topic

To make fish assemble at a spot in the sea, you will take 3 shells of those that grow on rocks (Barnacles? Mussels attached on rocks?); and having removed the fish (flesh) found inside, you will write on these shells with your own blood, the following two words, JA SA­BAOTH; and having thrown these shells in the spot where you want the fish to assemble, you will see in no time an infinite number (of fish).

Now *that* is a spell. Mystical words written in blood, yes, very good. I just hope the cut doesn't get infected.

Now on bird catching spell - I sense a food theme to the requests here. Most of the "spells" on catching birds are essentially clever traps or ways to poison them (one is basically a bait with alcohol) so I won't bother translating them, but this one is too good to pass up:

To catch a large number of birds

With an owl that you will tie to a tree at night in a forest or copse of trees, and you will light near him a large candle that sheds a lot of light; then, two or three people will make noise around the tree with drums, the birds will come in large numbers to perch near the owl so to make war to him, and it will be easy to kill as many as one would want with small lead (birdshot) .

… to make war to him.  The author is a mediocre writer, and yet he has moments of brilliance (the French wording used is "pour lui faire la guerre").  The entire thing is hilarious.  You need drummers, an owl (from the owl store?  there is no owl-catching spell in the book), be careful not to set the forest on fire or have the owl claw your face out, have several muskets loaded at the ready (don't hit the owl!)… I love it.

There was also a lot of interet in alcohol based spells.  People wondered if they were actual spells or merely recipes.  Let's find out!

To make Hyppocras in a short time so that it is excellent

For four pints of wine, you will prepare the following drugs, a pound of good fine sugar, two ounces of good cinnamon coarsely ground, an ounce of grains of paradise, an ounce of cardamom, two grains of the finest ambergris, crushed in a mortar with rock candy; you will make of all these drugs a clear syrup, which you will purify by filtering 2-3 times in an etamine cloth, and you will mix this syrup with four pints of excellent wine, and you will have the best hypocras that one could drink.

This seems like a pretty legit recipe, but it's not a spell.   Next is the "medical grade" alcohol

For the ardent water, which serves for an infinity of grand operations

You will take a strong old wine, strong in color and violent, and in two pints you will make an infusion of a chunk of good quicklime, about half a pound of it, forty ounce of sulfur, as much of good tartar from Montpellier, as much of common salt; and all this being crushed and mixed together in a an good alembic, you will distill under low heat up to three times you ardent water, which you will preserve, for your usage, in a bowl of strong glass.  Some people content themselves to distil serpentinite infused in wine and quicklime.

Ooof.  Mixing quicklime, tartar (most probably cream of tartar) and sulfur must have some interesting effects.  I would have to do some calculations to figure how the chemical equation balances out... but why bother, the distillation will isolate the alcohol from all that.  But perhaps some magical "essence" is transferred along.  I'll note that there seems to be a lot more solid than liquid, so that must be irksome - must be hell to clean your alembic after that.  Lastly, I will note that the word "operation" could mean a medical procedure, or perhaps a magical one?  "Medical grade" is a bit of a  guess on my part here.

More translations requested in the OSR reddit group will follow soon!

P.S.  Regarding the strange spam from last post.  Apparently this is quite common in some parts of the world (thanks mtb-za for pointing this out to me!).   And honestly, while it's more discrete and rarer, such services are also available in North America.   Magic thinking lives on!

(source of the text:  http://www.esotericarchives.com/solomon/petitalb.htm )

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