Books Bound In Human Skin

A

Anonymous

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#1
My great granny used to be a which. She died well before I was born but my dad told me all about her.
She used to do things like heal warts or at one point she saved my granddads life by making a deadly desease retreat.
Anyway, she loved animals and was generally a lovely person.
The thing is she had this book, apparently bound in human skin and nobody was allowed to touch or look at it. My dad once saw it on her bedside cabinet but she quickly put it away.
From what my dad had told me, when she was dying she kept lying in bed for weeks, telling him that she can't die because of that book.
So my family arranged for the priest of the village to collect it and guess what, not only did she smile but she also died that evening!
From what I found out about that book, it contains healing spells and is possibly used by the Amish who themselves are from German descent.
Still, my great grannys book was handwritten and I would like to know if anybody has ever heard of it or similar books?
 

Breakfastologist

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#2
When you say "apparently bound in human skin" to whom was this apparent? There are a lot of things that could look like human skin (pig skin is a good example) so it would be odd to assume something was bound in human skin rather than something else- was there any other story associated with this?

Why is this thread entitled "the seventh book of moses" when that is not mentioned in your post at all? Are you saying that is what the book was or enquiring as to whether that is what it was or just choosing a title that sounds good?

I'm sure there are people who have heard of the sixth/seventh book and there is certainly a long tradition of binding items in human skin as a magical application, but you don't seem to be separating fact from conjecture clearly enough to make much more judgement on it.
 
A

Anonymous

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#3
Fine book, English

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From what I found out about that book, it contains healing spells and is possibly used by the Amish who themselves are from German descent
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The only thing I can volunteer is that I have vacationed in Amish country - which is roughly the same as saying since I once went to a zoo, I am now fit to speak about lions.

But my ignorance of a subject has never stopped me speaking on a subject before so:
I would be shocked if there are any true Amish anywhere practicing witchcraft. Understand this literally: I doubt they would suffer a witch to live, at least among them. They are decent, kind & hardworking people who take the bible so literally most sects believe it’s a sin to have their picture taken, listen to music, dance, ride in a car or to use electricity. They are fundamentalists and strict biblical interpretists, who incidentally are forbidden to proselytize, and any adult is free to leave the church/way of life (though they will be shunned by the community for doing so).

The idea that they use (or would allow spells to be used in) healing or anything else in the community I think is highly unlikely. For crying out loud, they wouldn't allow shock paddles on a heart attack victim, let alone allow someone break out a book made of human skin ...

Here’s a nice link to more info:

http://www.800padutch.com/atafaq.shtml#bbel

I hope you find your answers. I just doubt those answers involve the Amish.
 
A

Anonymous

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#5
As a practising witch, this sounds to me like a bit of an UL. If the old woman really was some sort of folk-healer, then the book would have been her hand-written book of spells and recipes, which she would have passed on to some suitable family member before her death, which was perhaps how she had received it. She certainly wouldn't have been happy to see some priest take it away (presumably to destroy it), as it would have meant the loss of a great deal of family history and knowledge. It wouldn't have been bound in human skin either - more likely goat- or pig-skin.
As to the thread title, if I remember correctly, the 7th Book of Moses is/was an apochryphal book of arcane spells and occult knowledge used by ceremonial magicians. It wouldn't have been used by an old country-woman.
 
A

Anonymous

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#6
You just don't know that.

For a start, the folk roots of modern witchcraft are both selective and dubious - and just because you're part of one tradition, doesn't mean you know anything about the tradition this grandmother was into. Also, not all folk traditions are limited to oral. And real magic-workers would use what they thought worked, including almost anything regardless of where it came from. (Take a look at the very syncretic Greek Magical Papyri some time.)

This leads on to the 7th Book of Moses: It's one of those grimoires that penetrated the Americas (e.g., as far as I can recall, it still has a place in voodoo). There's no reason why she shouldn't have had her own annoted copy.

And, as for the priest - as demonstrated by a recent study of Medieval German magic - it's quite possible for people to subscribe to the christian world view but still have a small, practical collection of magical writings, and to know that it's 'wrong'.

Granny's mindset may very well have been that of a hacker, and she may have been working within a very old tradition.

Wonder what the priest did with the book?
:devil:
 
A

Anonymous

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#7
Thanks to all the replies. I should have been a bit more detailed about the whole thing. For a start IT IS NOT A UL!!!!!
I happen to be able to give exact accounts about my family and the book but do not choose to for obvious reasons.
My great gran got it from a friend of hers exactly the same way she got rid of hers, i.e he friend needed to hand the book over before she could die.
The thing about "bound in human skin" has been told directly by her to my dad.
When I said that she smiled before she died I am referring to her being glad to die not for the priest to have it. Even though as the village where she lived was very close knit and the priest was actually a decent man that my family had known for a very long time. I know that he didn't destroy it but kept it locked away in his chapel and I also happen to know where exactly the book is today. Unfortunately it is in the hands of a very well known old family (name known to myself) that still resides in the village who got the book because the chapel in which the book was locked away happened to be on their land.
I can hardly go there and say:"Hi, I think you've got something that should be mine..." Think about it!
That I mentioned it as 7th book of moses is that my dad used to refer to it as that.
I assumed that it had spells in it but am not sure of this, that is my main reason to ask you lot about it. I have tried to find out more about it and stumbled across an article in which this 7th book of moses was mentioned as the BASIS to a book the Amish use. I know that the Amish would not have anything to do with whichcraft but books can be partially used, as reference or as spellbooks if need be. Books can also be rewritten and come out years later as something completely different (see the Bible).
This book is a mistery to me and there are only two things absolutely sure.
For one, my gran Bertha Mahn was a witch and secondly, the book existed and exists under whatever name.
Having lived with this for this long and knowing my family background I find it very offensive to call it an urban legent!
Thanks in advance for any decent info I can get on this matter!
 
A

Anonymous

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#8
Dingo,

You certainly can't reclaim the book: your Grandmother gave it away, and that's the end of the matter. I'd be surprised if the new holders of the book wouldn't let you look at it. Just tell them it's part of your family's history and ask them nicely. You never know!
 
A

Anonymous

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#9
7th Book of Moses & American Witchcraft

Annasdotir, I reckon that a book like the 7th Book of Moses would have been one of the most likely things for an American witch to use - as Martin said, it was one of the few European magic books to penetrate the Americas. It might even have been brought over by Dutch settlers, since I believe the most popular (and the original) editions are in German. A handwritten copy may have been passed down to her or copied from someone else - it would be interesting to have compared her copy with one of the published ones flooding the American 'hoodoo curio' market at the time...

Dingo, because the 6th and 7th books of Moses became so popular, especially with African-American practitioners, it has never gone out of print. You should be able to pick up a cheap copy from most occult bookshops on-line if you wanted to take a look at it.

Just my 2p,
P
 

naitaka

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#10
In Mysteries of Ontario folklorist John Robert Colombo writes:

"Well-worn editions of The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses and even The Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Books of Moses circulated among the farmers of Waterloo County. These apocryphal 'charm books' consisted of sigils and spells to be employed 'for the good of Mankind'."

A title page from one of these is shown; the full title is:
"The Sixth and Seventh Book of Moses: Moses' Magical Spirit-Art,
Known as the Wonderful Arts of the Old Wise Hebrews, Taken from the Mosaic Books of the Cabala and the Talmud for the good of Mankind. Translated from the German. Printed in USA"

Waterloo County was settled by German immigrants, including Mennonites and 'Pennsylvania Dutch'.

In another entry, Colombo writes:

"About 1880, an old woman said to be a witch lived in New Dundee (also Waterloo County - n) It was said she possessed a copy of The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses and that she would use its charms to transform herself into an animal of her choice."
 

MrRING

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#11
Bound in Skin

Just found a book called Georgia Curiosities by William Schemmel.

In it, it says that the University of Georgia has a book published in 1599 called Apollodurus bound in human skin, or so it has written in it.

The article goes on to say that it wasn't neccisarily a ghoulish practiice, that people would will their skin to be made into books to be "immortalized", so it was probably done by somebody who wanted it done.

I have never heard of this practice before... is it documented anywhere?
 

JamesWhitehead

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#12
A very erudite news-group has discussed the issue here and cites
examples of books which claim to be bound in human skin:

http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/byform/mailing-lists/exlibris/1992/03/msg00068.html

It includes the booklist which follows:


AUTHOR: Thompson, Lawrence Sidney, 1916-
TITLE: Legends of the human skin.
IMPRINT: [Ann Arbor? Mich. 1950]
277-287 p. 22 cm.

LOCATION: Green Library Stacks 095.T473

TOPICS: Bookbinding--Materials.
NOTES: Reprinted from Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and
Letters, v. 34, for the year 1948.
Language: English Year: 1948,1950
Item CSUGAAD7785-B (Books) AAD7785 (NOTIS)

and, selected from his citations (and in the order of appearannce in
the text):

Albert Way, "Some Notes on the Tradition of Flaying Inflicted in
Punishment of Sacrilege, the Skin of the Offender Being Affixed to
Church-Doors," _Archaeological Journal_, 5(1848):189-190

G., B.. "Manuscits sur peau humaine," _Intermediare des chercheurs et
curieux_, 2(November 25, 1865): 681

Albert Cim(ochowski], _Le Livre;
historique-fabrication-achat-classement-usage et entretien (Paris:
Imprimerie imperiale, 1867-70l three volumes. ["Cim gives the best
available general account of anthropodermic bibliogegy"]

Cimochowski, "Peau humaine tannee", _Intermediare des chercheurs et
curieux_, 62(August 20, 1910):269-271

"Manuscrits sur peau humaine", _Intermediare des chercheurs et
curieux_, 3(January 10.1866):19

"Les Reliures en peau humaine," _Chronique medicale_, 5(1898):137

"Human Skin Tanned," _Notes and Queries_, Third Series,
9(April 14, 1866):309

Carrington, F. A., "Human Skin Tanned", _Notes and Queries_, Second
Series 2(October 11, 1856)

"Les Tanneries de peau humaine," _Intermediare des chercheurs et
curieux_, 5(November 10,1869):640-641

V. Dufour, "Les Tanneries de peau humaine," _Intermediare des
chercheurs et curieux_ 7(April 10, 1874):179

G., "Human Skin Tanned", _Notes and Queries_,Third Series 8(December
2, 1856): 465

Hackwood, R. W., "Human Skin Tanned", _Notes and Queries_,Third Series,
10(October 27, 1866):341

"Human Skin Tanned", _Notes and Queries_, Second Series, 2(September
27, 1856):252


I suppose these works are just a bit easier to find than volumes actually bound
in skin. :rolleyes:
 

marion

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#13
I went round a stately home when I was a kid and there was a book on show bound in human skin,there was a tale attached (possibly to do with a haunting) I can't remember where it was- either Longleat or somewhere in Sussex.
 

liveinabin

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#15
Also see my thread on the red barn murders. but I can't remember where it is. There is a book of the court case bound in the skin of the murderer
 

FelixAntonius

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#17
I remember an old respectable G.P. who had a book, which he claimed was bound in human skin.

It seems that there was a trade in such items in the 1920's & before. The skin coming from post mortems & providing a nice little income on the side for the provider!!!!!
 
A

Anonymous

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#18
James Whitehead said:
A very erudite news-group has discussed the issue here and cites
examples of books which claim to be bound in human skin:
*list followed*
I suppose these works are just a bit easier to find than volumes actually bound
in skin. :rolleyes:
I find it frightening how many of those volumes were published in French. Perhaps I should rethink my European vacation itinerary?
 
A

Anonymous

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#19
There's a book in Edinburgh, part of the same exhibit as the body of Burke (the body snatcher). Apparently, were he to reach out his hand...he could touch his own arse. :D
 
A

Anonymous

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#20
Androman's post here reminded me of this thread, so I thought I'd bump it again.

As I mentionned on the wandering thread, it became fashionable in the 19th century to use tattoed skins to make decorative objects, such as cigarette boxes, bookbindings and lampshades. Medical students, hospital and morgue employees made some cash out of this traffic, which continued more or less covertly until the early 20th century. So although the provenance of the skin they used was dreadful, the Nazis didn't invent anything.

Talking of tattooed skins, the Science Museum has a collection of them, including 300 French skins allegedly dating from the early 18th century to the 20th.

Check out the Body of Work thread for a similar topic.
 

Kondoru

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#21
How exciting!

I remember being shown an old victorian photo album by one of my mothers little old lady friends.

It was of oriental subject matter (possibly my fastination with things eastern dates from this incident) and one shot that took my fancy was of a Jap fellow with a ferocious samaurai tattooed on his back.

The caption said he had willed his skin to be preserved after his death.

I would love to do this myself; but I can find no legal way of doing it, my skin is bad, and I cannot afford a tattoo anyway...

So cool!
 
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#22
Homo Aves said:
I would love to do this myself; but I can find no legal way of doing it, my skin is bad, and I cannot afford a tattoo anyway...
I doubt there is anything to legally stop you - there was that biker a while back who had his tattoos removed and preserved after he died.

I'll pop over with my skinning knives and we can have a test run - I need a new lampshade.
 
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#24
Homo Aves said:
Dont tempt me...Im skint enough.
Hell you could do some deal - someone's pay you to tattoo you and you leave them your skin when you die. It'd be great publicity for them.
 

Dingo667

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#25
My great grandma had a book that was bounf in human skin. It was called the "Seventh book of moses". She used to heal pople in my family even though they thought it was absolute rubbish. She also freed my dad from warts literally overnight and stuff. Then she was bedbound and used to say that if someone could take the book away from her she could die. AS there was noone, they've got the local priest involved and he took it off her...the same evening she died. There is far more detail to this story but I can't be bothered to write it all down. I just wanted to mention that the book was bound in human skin and apparently very very old.
 
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#26
Dingo666 said:
My great grandma had a book that was bounf in human skin. It was called the "Seventh book of moses". She used to heal pople in my family even though they thought it was absolute rubbish. She also freed my dad from warts literally overnight and stuff. Then she was bedbound and used to say that if someone could take the book away from her she could die. AS there was noone, they've got the local priest involved and he took it off her...the same evening she died. There is far more detail to this story but I can't be bothered to write it all down. I just wanted to mention that the book was bound in human skin and apparently very very old.
Where is it now?
 

Dingo667

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#28
Thanks for the link, I've been on that site before but it didn't make much sense to me. However it is the only site that could actually show the right content.
As to the whereabouts of that book, there is a "normal" answer and a "paranormal" one.
The normal one says that it is very probably still in that chapel where the priest belonged to. The paranormal one is much better though. During a seance I asked about the book and got two answers, one was "D-A-N-G-E-R" and the other was the name "Von Altmann & the part of town where my nan lived". The strange thing is that this part of town belonged to a very influential family called "Von Alten", they were/are Barons. So judging by the ghost's info it could now be in their possession.
By the way this is not in England but in old Germany, town: Hannover, borough: Ricklingen. Thats it really.
 

nickedoff12

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#29
Interesting.

Your grandmother might have been a little senile to think it bound in human skin--Although, I'd LOVE to see the book. I could spend all day prodding and flipping through a grimoire >.<
 

Dingo667

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#30
Nickedoff12, my great gran wasn't senile darling, she was a very level headed woman up to the day she died. She had told my dad that it was bound in human skin when he was about 6 yrs and also that he shouldn't touch it at any costs. There could be many reasons why she said that, it doesn't mean she meant it though. On the other hand, considering it was not a printed version but a hand-written one, I guess anything could have been possible.
 
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