By Danièle Cybulskie
Often, medieval recipes and charms leaned on a couple of different traditional aids to ensure their efficacy – herb lore and prayer, for example – but sometimes, it was time to pull out all the stops. The Picatrix is a compilation of helpful magical recipes and incantations, many of which are some of the most outlandish to be found in medieval sources. With its unique combination of magic, astrology, prayer, and potion-making, it aims to help people with the most common of human problems, offering both love potions and poisons alike, as well as ways to get the universe to listen to your prayers. For these relatively pedestrian issues, a medieval person could turn to many different (and much more straightforward) sources, but for a serious challenge – like getting a king to love you – only a heavy-hitter like The Picatrix will do.
In Book 3 can be found a recipe entitled “For acquiring the love of a king”, and it is only for the most dedicated people to undertake – especially because getting your hands on some of the ingredients will be no small task. Before you begin, remember that it’s treason to mess with a king’s head or heart, so read on at your own risk.
To begin, start with a fairly standard medieval voodoo doll:
When you wish the love of a king and to attract his benevolence toward the people, take fresh wax, and make an image in the name of that king whom you have selected to influence.
Then, add some truly Shakespearean ingredients. You may have to order some of them specially, as you might not be able to find them at the local grocer:
Find ½ of gazelle brain; 1 oz. of rabbit brain; and 2 oz. of human blood. Mix everything together in an iron vessel, and place it over a fire until everything is blended. Then throw upon that mixture 1 oz. each of powdered camphor and amber with ¼ oz. of nutmeg. This should be thrown atop the first medicine. Distribute these things until everything melts and is mixed together.
Take this appetizing mixture and pour it into the head of your voodoo doll – but only the head. Seal it up, and save the rest of the body for another magic potion:
Afterward, take 4 oz. each of human blood, the blood of a white cock, and the brain of a horse; ½ oz. each of nutmeg and camphor; and 2 oz. of liquefied cow fat. Add all these, and keep them all over the fire. Make a hole in the throat of the image through which you should pour those things and allow them to cool down. Then shut that hole with wax.
Cooling the potion first is an important step: you don’t want to melt your wax king. After this, it’s time for a quick incantation:
Next take a thin silver needle, a new one that has never been used, and stick it into the chest of the image in such a way that it does not go through to the other side. While you are sticking it in, say: “ACRIUZ, FENDEYUZ, NEPHALEZ, FEYEDUZ!”
You’ve now finished with the voodoo doll portion of the charm, so it’s time to seal it up and take a road trip to bury it:
Then place the image into an earthenware vessel, the outside sealed with luting. Then take 1 oz. each of incense, powdered galbanum, and the eyes of a white cock, and mix them all together. Afterward, take the image, this suffumigation, and a single censer, and climb up a tall mountain from which you can see a city. There, make a hole the size of the image, and bury it head or face downward. Place a stone or brick upon the mouth of the container or vessel, and throw soil upon it until everything is covered.
For the final stage of this ritual, it’s time to burn your potion and recite another incantation. Really let it out this time – you’re up on a mountaintop committing treason, after all; you might as well go for broke.
When this is done, throw the suffumigation into the fire. While the smoke is rising, say: “ACDERUZ, MADUREZ, FEYLEUZ, HUERYRELIZ!” Then say: “I turn the heart of such-and-such a king with love, friendship, goodwill, and mercy towards such-and-such a man or such-and-such a people by the strength and power of those spiritual spirits: HUEYFEDUEZ, AFFIMUZ, BEEFINEZ, MEDARUIZ!” Know that this king will now esteem that man or people, extending them his grace.
Voîlà! You have now successfully made a king love someone in just a few easy steps. Hopefully it’s you and hopefully it worked, and you’re not now being tried for treason. But don’t worry: if it does go south, The Picatrix has plenty more of the most bizarre tricks to be found in medieval sources up its sleeve to help you.
This translation is from The Picatrix: A Medieval Treatise on Astral Magic by Dan Attrell and David Porreca.
You can follow Danièle Cybulskie on Twitter @5MinMedievalist
Top Image: Österreichische Nationalbibliothek Han. Cod. 2915 fol. 60r