5 Ancient Texts I Wish Were in My Library
My siblings noticed I was a nerd as a child when we would watch movies. If there was anything that sounded cool and historical–tattoo, book, weapon, anything–I would look it up. To this day, I still do so. I love it. To me, the best movies, no matter the budget, are those with a level beyond what we see–when they give you more to explore beyond the movie. When the producers are just as curious as you, they make movies that keep you curious.
One of my favorite things to discover is that the weird things you hear in movies and shows are actually real–especially ancient alluded books.
They’re always in some kind of crude and choppy language or bound in something grotesquely awesome with esoteric knowledge revealed and sealed by its ancient creators. But, when you check it out, you find out it’s completely real. Not necessarily as epic as the movies develop, but still pretty damn cool.
I want to show you five of my favorite ancient texts from movies and shows that I wish were in my library.
Considering the amount of research I had to do, there are lots of links to other articles in this article. Not all of them are “credible” (like Wikipedia) but considering the conflicting and fictional origins of many of the books, it was the best I could find. In any case, all that I found I report to you in my best faith. However, these sites and the things they discuss do NOT represent me or my views (nor Teetering On Wisdom’s). Nor do I represent theirs. Read more about how this works out here.
This is one is pretty interesting, but it isn’t real by any sense of what we think it is. In the movie, it is described as “an ancient book written in the 15th century by the astrologer Basileus while he was under demonic possession”. In it, he details the Black Zodiac and the Ocularis Infernum (Latin for “Eye of Hell”). Considering his demonic possession, he was able to lay out the “eye’s” blueprints to be recreated by someone who can capture and bring together the 13 ghosts of the Black Zodiac.
Wait for it, wait for it…“once opened, will allow its user (whoever’s able to control it) the power to see everything in the past and future, Heaven and Earth, the blessed and the damned, as well. The Basileus Machine was designed to open the Ocularis and give the machine’s user control over it.”
Gets better and better each piece, right?
Well, to start, Basileus is not a real guy. Actually, the word is a generic, Greek term for “king” or “monarch” in Western civilization. As such, a non-existent man cannot write a book; a little reasoning would then suggest that the book is non-existent, as well. Dammit! I was hoping to know everything and dominate the world one day! Unlike some of the other ancient books, I wasn’t able to find anything suggesting that this book is real–other than its influence on the Thir13en Ghosts movie. Well, there is are Ocularis Infernum albums and songs. That’s it.
The Necronomicon Ex-Mortis
This grotesque book invaded my reality realm when I became obsessed with the Evil Dead franchise. Presented as being wrapped in human flesh and written in blood by “The Dark Ones”, it’s developed as “the antagonistic object in the Evil Dead franchise. It has power to harness the Kandarian Demon’s ability to control both the dead and Deadites, as well as summon the Kandarian Demon itself.” (By the way, Kandarian isn’t real; I was hoping it was some other civilization or tribe during the Mesopotamian or Babylonian times or something–but it’s not.) Anyway, the book is pretty much invincible and can only be destroyed with the Kandarian dagger. You can find out more about its history and “characterization” with the movies and wikis–which I highly recommend if you’re into cult classics.
Now, the cool part is the truth behind the book. The Necronomicon as a “real ancient text” is false. However, its perpetuating livelihood stems from the fact that H.P. Lovecraft and his buddies referenced it across multiple texts, suggesting that it’s a real allusion to something that may have existed. It really makes you think about how important followers are in making something “real”. Anyway, it’s completely made up by the gothic master with such a likely and extensive history that many have truly tried to make it a reality, like with Simon’s Necronomicon.
Even more so, author Colin Wilson reinspired it’s existence when he wrote a novel in which the mysterious (and real!) Voynich Manuscript is linked to the Necronomicon. Uh-oh. Here we go again! Now, there is still no evidence of an ancient Necronomicon existing before Lovecraft’s work; no manuscripts, no references, no nothing. But the ancient Voynich Manuscript is one of the most mysterious texts out there right now because it’s 600-years-old and most cryptologists (could you imagine writing that on your resume?!) who have tried all failed in deciphering it! Dude, what language is that? I want to cuss people out in it with a smile!
Who knows–maybe the two are linked. It doesn’t seem like we’ll know anytime soon, though.
Okay, I heard about the Enchiridion from the Cartoon Network show Adventure Time; Finn the Human carries it around as the “hero’s handbook”. I checked it out and found that though the Enchiridion is not a hero’s handbook, the name does actually mean “handbook” or a manual that is “A book of as constant and necessary use, as the sword (which commonly went by this name, and from whence the metaphor seems to be taken) is to a soldier” according to Stanhope’s translation of Simplicius’s commentary.
Basically, it’s an advice book that gives practical ways to live. Like all the other ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, Epictetus was one of those dudes who walked around and taught people crazy ideas and one of his followers compiled his teachings into this book (Arrian in this case). In the text, it offers simple advice tidbits for how to live with a free soul; “To be free is to focus on the things that depend on us, and do not give importance to those that do not depend on us.” If we can focus on things we can control, we can free our souls and find true happiness as humans. Awesome, right? All teenagers need to read this and understand that waiting for everything and everyone else and their opinions will get you nowhere!
Sorry, I get passionate about my misguided kiddos. Anyway, it’s actually a cool book, from what I gather. You can find free pdfs of it everywhere online if you type in the text’s name.
Book of the Dead and Book of Amun-Ra
I love this one–mostly because it’s real! Finally! The Book of the Dead is totally an ancient text from Egypt–gotta love it!
Now, how I even discovered this was from The Mummy (1999) movie. According to all the hot men roaming around–including Brendan Fraiser–the book of Amun-Ra is the “Book of the Living”, made of gold (ooh, fancy), and “contained ancient spells and incantations that could take life away from mortals”. In the movie, the Amun-Ra was found in or under a statue and used to raise the dead by our villain. However, from what I can find, the Book of the Living doesn’t actually exist.
Amun was an Egyptian god who reigned mostly in Thebes; he was no more special than any other god in the polytheistic culture, “Amun, at this time, was associated with protecting the king but, largely, was simply a local fertility god paired with his consort Amaunet as part of the Ogdoad, eight gods who represented the primordial elements of creation”, according to the Pyramid texts (c. 2400-2300 B.C.). However, he eventually associated himself with Ra and Atum–the supreme god equivalent to Zeus in Greek mythology; “in Amun, the most important aspects of both Ra and Atum were combined to establish an all-encompassing deity whose aspects were literally every facet of creation”. It started this huge ancient cult following that even expanded beyond Egypt; but, if I understand correctly, it’s pretty much died out.
Now, a few days later in the movie, the Book of the Dead counterpart was found.
Here’s where it gets good. While the Book of the Living was never found in real life (though it can potentially be real), the “dead book” was. Reportedly, “[t]he ‘Book’ was not a single text but a compilation of spells designed to guide the deceased through the dangers of the underworld, ultimately ensuring eternal life”. It was basically part of ancient funerary texts that would be written on linens and placed in coffins with the deceased–cool, right?
Even better is that the Oriental Institute Museum in Chicago actually has the original, ancient artifacts on display from October 2017 to March 2018! Yup, you can actually go see “more than 50 objects [which] explores what the Book of the Dead was, what it was believed to do, how it worked, how was it was made, and what happened to it”. Oh, if only I had the money to travel!
So, while the others have been “fake”, director Stephen Sommers and his producers actually paid attention in class and did their homework on this one!
The Grand Grimoire
I admit I’ve only seen a few episodes of Sleepy Hollow, but one of them mentioned the Grand Grimoire. I know that grimoire is a generic term for a spell/magic book, so I immediately knew there was research to be done! There are many grimoires in various cultures at various times; and even more that are referenced that don’t exist or are not found. In any case, this particular one had been lost through the ages, found, and was going to be used to awaken witches, according to the show.
In Sleepy Hollow, the Grand Grimoire was owned by occultist John Dee. I plan on looking more into him, but this is a real “English mathematician, natural philosopher, and student of the occult” from the 16th century. He studied a lot of alchemy and advised the English queen at the time. Wait, what?! Yeah, I know–sketchy. Anywho, it totally makes sense that he would have something like this. Just like Colin Wilson connected the Necronomicon and Voynich Manuscript with him (see above). As far as documentation goes, though, he never had either of them.
Now, in real life, there is much suggestion that the ancient Grand Grimoire is real; however, it’s about as ancient as the 16th century. “The Grand Grimoire, circa 1520 AD, also called the Red Dragon and the Gospel of Satan, was discovered in the tomb of Solomon in 1750 and is written in either Biblical Hebrew or Aramaic”.
This is mostly agreed on, but what’s in the book is a little dicey between sources.
“The work is divided into two books. The first book contains instructions for summoning a demon and for the construction of tools with which to force the demon to do ones bidding. The second book is further divided into two parts: the Sanctum Regnum and Secrets, de L’Art Magique du Grand Grimoire (“Secrets, of the magic art of the Grand Grimoire”). The Sanctum Regnum contain instructions for making a pact with the demon, allowing one to command the spirit without the tools required in book one, but at greater risk. Secretscontains simpler spells and rituals one can employ after having performed the ritual in the first book. Some editions contain a short text between these two parts, Le Secret Magique, où le Grand Art de pouvoir parler aux Morts (The Magic Secret, or the Grand Art of being able to speak with the dead), dealing with necromancy.”
But the Students of Occult History in Los Angeles say
The legend of the Red Dragon is that the manuscript was based on writings by the apocryphal Honorius of Thebes, who many claimed was possessed by Satan. The book is said to contain proof of demonic evocation and occult spells as well as the process whereby newly elected popes are slowly won over by Satan’s greatness.
Unsurprisingly, The Grand Grimoire is still used widely by practitioners of voodoo, especially in Haiti, where it is called Le Veritable Dragon Rouge.
Then, Ancient Origin says
One of the most infamous contents of the Grand Grimoire, however, is the instructions that would supposedly allow a person to summon Lucifer or Lucifuge Rofocale. One of the instruments required for this ritual is a Blasting Rod, which would be used to smite Lucifer into submission once he is evoked. After this, a deal with the Devil may be made. Therefore, the Grand Grimoire also contains a section entitled the “Genuine Sanctum Regnum, or the True Method of Making Pacts”. Amongst other things, the person conducting this ritual would require a stone called Ematille, and two blessed candles, both of which would be used to form a Triangle of Pacts, so that he/she may be protected from the spirits that have been summoned.
So, we know it deals with demons/Satan and magic and spells; that’s about all we’re sure of. It’s also reported the Church owns it and locked it away in the Vatican Secret Archives. Well, at least we know it’s real.
What’s cool is that these books are just ones I found through media, but there are hundreds of others ancient texts from around the world with so many names but similar content and purposes.
And, to top it off. A few of these books–being real–have replicas that can be purchased for your personal library. Unfortunately for me, though, I will settle for nothing less but the originals.
So, what books do you know of from ancient (or purportedly ancient) times? Let us know below and on social media!