Friday, 1 January 2016

The Family Wizard

An experiment in translation. In an effort to make myself more productive in 2016 I will be attempting a translation of Felix Labisse's "Sorcier Des Familles, Almanach Fatidique," originally published in 1957 and, as far as I am aware, previously untranslated. Labisse was a French surrealist (1905-1982). He is best known for his paintings of blue women, hybrid creatures and the image which currently graces the Midian homepage here. This experiment is mainly for my own practice and amusement (if being hunched over a keyboard on my days off from being hunched over a keyboard can be considered amusing...) I doubt I will make a page a day so will probably batch posts up when ready.

I make no claims for the veracity of any of the entries! Taking the 1st day as an example, all characters are 'real' (I had not heard of Tanchelin before, was aware of Hellequin's Hunt but now need to research more etc.) but the portrayal of Uriel seems completely incongruous. We will see how things progress. 'Enjoy'. I will put a scan of the page at the bottom of this post, any translation corrections gratefully accepted!

(Main image is taken from the frontispiece to the book)
January 2016

God of the Month - Juno
Angel of the Month - Gabriel
Devil of the Month - Belial
Saint of the Month - Saint Paphnuce The Panopolitain
Animal of the Month - The sheep
Bird of the Month - The peacock
Fish of the Month - The cuttlefish
Tree of the Month - The poplar
Stone of the Month - Hyacinth
Perfume of the Month - Star Anise
Metal of the Month - Lead
Flower of the Month - Agnus Castus
Man of the Month - Raymond Lulle
Woman of the Month - Isabel De Baviere

January 1st

Saint of the Day - Saint Louis
Devil of the Day - Uriel
Man of the Day - Tanchelin
Talisman of the Day - Wolf’s Tooth
Book of the Day - The Distaff Gospels

Capricorn - The Sun rises at 7.46 a.m.

1st January 1000 - The Great Fear
1st January 1091 - Hellequin’s Hunt (The Wild Hunt) appears to the priest Gauchelin
1st January 1499 - Birth of Diane of Poitiers
1st January 1544 - Exorcism of Magdelene of the Cross
1st January 1602 - A werewolf ravages Montdragon
1st January 1635 - End of the diabolic pregnancy of the Prioress of Loudon
1st January 1908 - Assassination of Carlos the First
1st January 1911 - Yvonne de Beauvais signs a blood pact with N.S.J.C. (Our Lord Jesus Christ)

To become Invisible
You will easily become invisible by acting as follows: look for a crow’s nest in the laying season, remove the eggs and block the nest. The crow will bring a small stone. You take that stone and, when you wish it you will become invisible. it is recommended that to avoid errors that you mark the nest with a rather long string.

Council of a Farmer
If you want to be surrounded by a swarm of midges rub yourself with donkey milk.

Secret of the Swabian Hermit
If your children are slow to walk, go sit on the marvellous stone of the church of St. Waast in Arras saying three times "Go Go Go!”

Axiom of the Immortal
The Devil made his Christmas pate with notaries' fingers and lawyers tongues.

Louis IX - Also known as Saint Louis founded numerous abbeys, dispensed justice under an oak and died of the plague in Tunisia. He is particularly well known for the miracle of the shipwreck of Cyprus and the bloody victory at Mansurah.

Uriel - A lowly Demon with little power, he works in the underworld as a pipe holder, from which he derives excessive pride.

Tanchelin - Mystagogue and heretic from 12th Century Antwerp who was so revered by the natives of that country that they fought for his excrement and used it as charms, cures, poisons and amulets.


  1. That actually does sound like loads of fun - reads really well too! Love the description of Uriel in particular! Is the top illustration an image from the book? The sigils on the wall and other additions such as the hand of glory may well have come from Grivy's ‘Witchcraft, Magic and Alchemy’ if that helps with anything!

    1. Thanks, yes the illustration is the frontispiece to the book. The edition I have also comes with a separate suite of prints. A lot of strange imagery, some puts me in mind of Michelet's La Sorciere, which I guess is fitting...