We are thrilled to announce the release of the trade edition of the Bibliotheca Valenciana on this feast day of Saints Cyprian and Justina, and in honour of these two figures who have played an important role in the development of Hadean Press and its founders.
At first glance, the Bibliotheca Valenciana does not appear to be related to the literature of Saint Cyprian. The name of the author of the three texts translated here appears in The Book of St. Cyprian: The Sorcerer’s Treasure only once and could therefore be easily overlooked. Fortunately for us, José Leitão did not overlook it.
Worse than discovering that a reference is fake is discovering that it’s too extensive...
There is a great deal of magic that doesn’t seem to be regarded as such. This has probably something to do with the outdated Positivistic division of disciplines or maybe the belief that many practitioners have had through time that magic needs to be a separate activity from everyday life. All of this is fine and true, and on many occasions indeed a necessity, but this division becomes a difficult issue when you’re talking about folk magic...
So, when I first came across the name of Jerónimo Cortez ‘Valenciano’ while working on the Portuguese traditional grimoire The Book of St. Cyprian, and when the realization of what I was looking at started to sink in, I realized that this was not something I could just shrug off (in truth, just the fact that this name is mentioned in The Book should say something very significant in itself ).
Like many others, I had been trained in the creed of the exclusive originality of magic – that there was something intrinsic in magic which was specific and unique to it – but reading the works by Cortez ‘Valenciano’ I found myself constantly having to grasp back at the memory that these were actually early modern treatises on Natural Philosophy and not folk magic grimoires.
The fact was, simply, that there didn’t seem to be much difference between the two: it was the same material, the same structure, the same preoccupations and the same pure fascination by a social class hungrily trying to leave its mark on the world.
— José Leitão, Introduction to the Bibliotheca Valenciana
What we have in the Bibliotheca Valenciana are translations of three of Jerónimo Cortez’s great works: the Non Plus Ultra Do Lunario, the Physiognomy and Various Secrets of Nature, and the Treatise of the Animals, presented and compiled for the first time into one English language volume.
The Lunario is an early almanac, full of astrological and astronomical information, prognostications of the weather, descriptions of the various winds, information on bloodlettings, and includes remedies for a variety of conditions such as windy inflammation, gout, cataracts, and mange.
The Physiognomy is part medical treatise covering the humours, the qualities of the astrological signs, the physiognomy of each part of the body, and part astrological text, describing the properties of the elements and their regions. It also includes sections on the many uses of rosemary and aguardente.
The Treatise is a bestiary covering the land and air animals, and includes mythical beasts such as the unicorn and the dragon.
In his introduction, José provides a fascinating look at how this material passed into later grimoires, and back out again, weaving a tapestry of lore that sometimes was scientific, and other times magical, and at all times a little bit of both.
Thank you all once again for your support of Hadean Press. It means everything.
Erze & Dis