I am very pleased to say that Scarlet Imprint recently announced that they will be publishing An Excellent Book of the Art of Magic: The Magical Works of Humphrey Gilbert and John Davis. Here is their description, to whet your appetite:
The Excellent Booke and Visions – transcribed from British Library Additional manuscript 36674 – are edited and introduced by Phil Legard, with supplementary essays by Dr Alexander Cummins. The works are important documents of 16th century magical practice, preserving a detailed account of the making and the use of a grimoire. Practitioners may also be drawn to the relative simplicity of the rites contained within the Excellent Booke. Gilbert, and his scryer John Davis, reduced the complex rituals of necromancy to their essentials: the crystal stone, the scryer, the conjurations and the forceful imposition of the master’s will over the demons he seeks to constrain.
This is a volume that I have been working on, now and then, for quite some time: the project began circa 2013, originally intended for the late James Banner’s Trident Books, who I had collaborated with on an edition of John Dee’s Libellus Veneri Nigro Sacer in around 2011. I believed that Gilbert & Davis’ two articles – the first a magical grimoire, the second a detailed record of the visions experienced by the pair – were important for both scholars and practitioners. They present a rare record of ritual magic practice, predating Dee’s spiritual diaries by around two decades, and – moreso than the work of Dee – being grounded in the demonic magic of medieval necromancy, albeit a heavily Protestant reworking thereof.
However, the project foundered for a variety of reasons, and James was later overtaken by health issues. Fortunately, after reading my transcription, my friend Dr. Al Cummins shared my enthusiasm for the work, and we have both done a variety of articles and presentations on the subject over the last few years. For this edition, Al has completed three significant supplementary essays, exploring in detail the content and contexts of the Excellent Book and Visions.
An Excellent Book of the Art of Magic will, we hope, be released in the first half of 2019.
I must also take this opportunity to offer my profuse thanks to Peter & Alkistis for sending Layla and I a copy of Peter Mark Adams’ The Game of Saturn, and the accompanying Sola Busca tarot deck. First, let me say that the execution of both book and deck are impeccable: the book in particular is an incredible feat of design, with numerous colour images complementing the exemplary typesetting.