segunda-feira, 7 de abril de 2008


Barrett and Joseph Smith

Barret's book also played a significant role in one of the most interesting discoveries and subsequent controversies involving Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons or Church of Latter Day Saints. In 1974 Dr. Reed C. Durham, a Mormon and noted scholar of Mormon history gave a lecture entitled, "Is there no help for the Widow's Son?". Durham revealed a medal worn by Joseph Smith and long thought to be a Masonic emblem was, in fact, a talisman of Jupiter. Smith's talisman appears to left. What is interesting to note is that Smith's Jupiter talisman is almost identical to the example given by Barrett above and to the right. This format is not provided in either Agrippa's Latin original nor the English translation of 1651 by John Freake. The illustration in the English translation appears below to right. Note the break in the seal which seems to be a printer's error and does not appear in the Latin original though it is faithfully copied in the Magus and Smith's talisman.

Not surprisingly this discovery caused an immense amount of controversy as opponents of Mormonism seized on it to attack the LDS Church with charges of occultism and magic and LDS adherents attempted to undermine the significance and provenance of the talisman. As a practitioner of occult philosophy I had a somewhat different reaction to the talisman. Rather than seeing the use of magic and astrology as evidence against Joseph Smith I had greater respect for him and the coherence of his world view. That being said I have no desire to be drawn into the battle that still rages concerning Joseph Smith, occult philosophy and the Church of Latter Day Saints. My interest here is in the diffusion and survival of talismanic magic after the Enlightenment.

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