Quantum malorum clausa nullo limite Cogit libido, quamque dulci carmine Purissimas mortalium mentes rapit Furias in omnes, sed cito quam fallimur. Vitam brevem breve gaudium Mors occupat momentulum quod ridet, aeternum dolet.
“How many evils does Lust command, in the small secluded margins; who with enchanting spell the pure minds of mortals does subdue, and in everyone induces rage, but quickly each is deceived. Death, seizes fleeing Life and brief joy. He laughs for a moment, and forever despairs. “
This engraving by Jan van de Velde depicts a witch as thought of during the height of witchcraft hysteria in Europe. The bare-breasted wild woman stands proudly in her Circle of Art, while demons surrounding her wait to do her bidding to summon some misfortune. All around her are the tools of her craft: the grimoire, the diviner’s cards, flasks of potions, a horn of herbs and a wand, and the goat which she undoubtedly flew in on.
Well ain’t this some heavy shit. An 18th century illustrated magical anthology, written in macaronic Latin and German, reads like the dream journal of the love child of Salvador Dalí and Edward Kelly. Compendium rarissimum totius Artis Magicae sistematisatae per celeberrimos Artis hujus Magistros, or “A most rare summary of the whole Magical Art by the most famous Masters of the Art”, features wildly imaginative and detailed pictures of conjurers, demons and their qualities, and even wild Gorgons receiving reptilian cunnilingus. This is the kind of bedtime story book I wish I had had.
Surreal, horrifying, raw and organic hellscapes that would put H. R. Giger to shame. Wayne Barlowe’s works incorporate many occult ideas in his Stygian portraits, including Enochian beauties as well as Lovecraftian horrors who pollute the infernal kingdoms…