Thursday, September 6, 2012

Traditional Treasure Hunting

I recently had a client asking about Jupiter pentacle for finding buried treasure because they really did intend to look for treasure!

I was impressed by the very traditional nature of this search, since the modern equivalent is the lottery for the blue collar aspirant and the stock market for the upwardly mobile modern.

The 17th century author Reginald Scot asks, "How manie have beene bewitched with dreames and thereby made to consume themselves with digging and searching for monie &c whereof they or some other have drempt?"

Reginald Scot, Discoverie of Witchcraft, Bk X, ch 7. available in the Renaissance Astrology CD Library volume II

I have to say that I tend to agree with Scot, with regard to treasure hunting and its modern form, lottery or stock market picking, but I thought it would be interesting to take a look at astrology, magic and traditional treasure hunting.

Our first problem is finding the treasure. Lilly gives rules for finding buried treasure with horary astrology at pages 215-216 of his 1647 Christian Astrology. We must distinguish between treasure lost by the querent and treasure hunting. In treasure hunting, once we have found a likely spot we can ask if there is treasure there.

We first look to see if Venus, Jupiter or the North Node is in the 4th house, which signifies treasure. If so, there is treasure or something of value. Mars or Saturn well dignified in the 4th also indicate treasure. Christian Astrology 216. Once treasure is indicated, we look to the lord of the 7th to indicate what it is. The Sun ruling the 7th shows gold, The Moon, "silver, plate, crystal or jewels..." Christian Astrology 216. Lilly then discusses the various types of treasure and the question of whether the querent will actually obtain the treasure. Christian Astrology 216-8.

The use of divining or Mosaical rods to find treasure was also quite common. Continuing in Chapter VII of Book X, entitled "The art and order to be used in digging for monie..." Scot states,

"There must be made upon a hazell want three crosses, and certeine words both blaspemous and impious must be said over it, and hereunto must be added certeine characters, & barbarous names." Reginald Scot, Discoverie of Witchcraft, at 163.

An additional early modern example is provided by John Baptista Porta in his Natural Magick, where he states,

The greater part of Cozners, when they are themselves very poor and most miserable of all men, they profess themselves able to find out Treasures, and they promise to other men what they want themselves, and they use four Rods that are double forked, the tops whereof sticking close together crossways, they hold the lower parts of them with their hands open, neer their belly, they seem to mumble Verses, and the Rods fall down, and where they fall, they bid those men to dig what would find Treasures.

John Baptista Porta, Natural Magick (1658) Bk. XX, Ch. 8 at 405-6.

We find a modern parallel in hoodoo or rootwork, Southern folk magic, which is predominately African magical practice, but took in a good deal of European magical practice as well.

Our first hoodoo parallel is from Rod Davis' American Voudou, a contemporary account of African diaspora religion in the United States. Rod Davis, American Voudou (Denton, TX, Univ N. Texas Press, 1999). Davis' informant is Sarah Albritton of Ruston, Louisiana, who states,

"Her family lived in Clay, but she'd gone to Ruston to visit her cousins. They'd heard some money had been lost out in the woods and went to find it, using a silver spoon dangling from a red string that would "point to the money." Deeper and deeper they ventured into the forest. "Then we saw a light," Sarah said. "It was the spirit of the person who lost the money. Everybody was afraid to go any farther and we ran back. We buried a root under the doorstep to keep away the spirit. But I went back that night and saw the light again...and decided never to go back."

Davis, American Voudou, at 94-5

That treasure was guarded by spirits was a common, basic belief. The Key of Solomon, a medieval grimoire, gives the following admonition,

"The Earth being inhabited, as I have said unto thee, by a great number of Celestial Beings and Spirits, who by their subtilty prevision know the places wherein treasures are hidden, and seeing it often happeneth that those men who undertake a search for said treasures are molested and sometimes put to death by the aforesaid Spirits..."

The Key of Solomon the King, ed. S. Liddell MacGregor Mathers, (1888, reprnt. York Beach ME, Weiser, 1989 ed.) at 57. See Elizabeth Butler, Ritual Magic (1949, reprnt. University Park, PN, Univ Penn Press, 1998) at 47-67 for a discussion of the Key of Solomon.

This connection between spirits and treasure is widespread in hoodoo practice. The key hoodoo sourcework Henry Hyatt's Hoodoo, Conjuration, Witchcraft and Rootwork (1974) has an entire section entitled "Spirits Guard Buried Treasure." Hyatt, Hoodoo, Conjuration at 111-135. After finding the treasure the treasure hunter must then surmount the dangers of the spirit guardian, which might also remove or transform the treasure if the proper precautions were not taken.

Hyatt's informant 1006 from St. Petersburg, Florida states,

There was a man who went to look for a hidden treasure because he had dreamed that in this particular spot there was a treasure hidden...When he arrived at the spot designated in his dreams the wind began to blow. But the old man paid no attention. He began to dig and dig and dig. Finally, the rain began to pour, thunder began to roll, lightning began to flash. But the old man dug just the same. After awhile his pick struck something that sounded like an iron pot...And when the pot was opened he saw that it was filled with gold and silver. The old man forgot that he wasn't supposed to utter a word before he got the silver in the pot and the old man suddenly cried, "Lord have mercy! Look what I have found!" At those words which were spoken...every bit of the silver turned to black charcoal and the pot turned to just a bit of clay.

Hyatt, Hoodoo, Conjuration at 116.

Our master Lilly himself was no stranger to treasure hunting. In his autobiography he discusses a 1634 treasure hunt in Westminster Abbey complete with Mosaical rods, the uncovering of a coffin, and apparent spiritual intervention,

"From the cloysters we went into the Abbey church, where, upon a sudden, (there being no wind when we began) so fierce, so high, so blustering and loud a wind did rise, that we verily believed the west-end of the church would have fallen on us..."

William Lilly, William Lilly's History of His Life and Times, (1715, reprnt. London, Charles Baldwyn, 1822) at 79-80.

One method prescribed for protection for the guardian spirits was the prayer and Bible reading. Scot says,

"And whilst digging treasure is a digging, there must be read te psalms, De Profundis, Missa, Misereatur nostri, Requiem, Pater Noster, Ave Maria, Et nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo, Amen. A porta inferi credi viver bona & c. Expectate Dominum Requiem aeternam. And then a certain prayer."

Discoverie of WitchcraftBook X, ch. 7. This is an odd mixture of the Our Father, Ave Maria and prayers for the dead and the Psalms.

Here are some modern examples of reading the Bible for protection from the spirits. Hyatt's informant 7 from New York City, states,

...[T]here was a big crowd went out one night to hunt money and they were getting to the box. The had a woman reading the Bible. They always say to read the Bible to keep down the spirits...There's certain Scriptures you read for spirits, they say.

Hyatt, Hoodoo, Conjuration, at 127.

Similarly, Hyatt's informant 1120(a) from Waycross, Georgia, indicates that it is necessary during treasure hunting to, "Read de Bible-King Solomon..." Hyatt, Hoodoo, Conjuration at 121.

This barely scratches the surface of this fascinating subject. Additional useful areas to explore are various grimoires, including the Greater Key of Solomon, e.g. the 2nd Pentacle of Jupiter which can be used, "also to discover Treasures and chase away the Spirits who preside over them" page 69.

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