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The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses

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An American edition of "The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses," published by L.W. DeLaurence, Chicago, 1905
An American edition of "The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses," published by L.W. DeLaurence, Chicago, 1905

"The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses or The Wonderful Magical and Spirit Arts of Moses and Aaron" was allegedly written by the most famous Jewish spiritual figure, Moses, the author of the first five books of the Bible. The text is said to be a continuation of what Moses wrote in the Blble, but scholars have shown it to be an 18th century grimoire from Germany that draws heavily on the 13th century Jewish grimoire called Sefer Raziel (Book of Raziel) to which has been added scattered Christian passages, as well as references to Christian religious figures.

The Sixth Book is composed of an introduction and seven chapters — each discussing one of seven different and powerful, magical seals. Each seal is accompanied by an incantation. The Seventh Book is similar in its composition and has twelve seals, called “tables.” These tables are also accompanied by prayers or spells. Contained within the pages are various magical names of YHWH and the angels, astrological knowledge, magical cures, amulets, Psalmic magic, information and knowledge about necromancy, control over the weather, and instructions and formulae to perform the miracles of the Old Testament.

Ostensibly a work of Jewish magic, the text became fundamental to the practices of African-American rootwork and conjure, especially as practitioners developed cross-cultural interests during the 19th century, after Emancipation, and onward to the present day. By the 1920s, the Seals of Moses were incorporated into Spiritualist Church services and were sold in printed sheets designed to be cut apart for use in hoodoo candle spells and included as talismanic amulets in jar and bottle spells and mojo hands. During this same time period, the book also entered into the practice of Appalachian and Pennsylvania Dutch folk magic.

In 1945, a purported sequel to "The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses" was published under the title "The Mystery of the Long Lost 8th, 9th, and 10th Books of Moses," which brought more of the Jewish grimoire tradition into the African-American rootwork community.

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