Paula R. Stiles
Innsmouth, MA – An astrological manuscript attributed to the “Mad Arab” Abd-al-Hazred, author of the grimoire the Necronomicon, has been discovered misfiled in the Marsh Archive of Antiquarian Studies at the Innsmouth Public Library in Innsmouth, Massachusetts. The manuscript, entitled De Stellis Maleficarum, is reputed to contain spells that could be used to bring about wealth to the user and disaster to any of the user’s enemies. This Latin translation from the original Arabic appears to have been brought over in the early 18th century from Europe and hidden to avoid its discovery and destruction. Other “suspect” manuscripts suffered a similar fate, particularly after several raids on the town by Revenue officers in 1927.
Abd-al-Hazred, popularly albeit incorrectly known as “Abdul Alhazred”, was an 8th century Yemenese poet of some notoriety in occult circles. He wrote the Al-Azif, later known as the Necronomicon, in 730 CE, and died under mysterious circumstances in 738. According to his 13th-century biographer, Ibn Khallikan, he was said to have been eaten alive by a terrible monster, though what monster remains uncertain. Khallikan’s biography of al-Hazred was lost and survives today only in quotations by later authors. According to Dr. Alice Headington, Archivist at the Innsmouth Public Library, some of these later sources have since claimed that al-Hazred’s death was related to the nature of his masterwork, which was reputed to be a book of spells devoted to such dark arts as the summoning of demons.
Until very recently, no other surviving books by Al-Hazred have turned up, and only very incomplete and contradictory versions (presumably from the Greek translation that gave it the name for which it is best known) of the Necronomicon itself exist. Headington states that legend ascribes some books of poetry to al-Hazred, but these were apparently burned for containing idolatrous paens to pagan gods with strange names like “Yog-Sothoth” and “Cthulhu”.
This manuscript, therefore, is quite a find. De Stellis Maleficarum is a nine-foot-long roll of pieces of vellum sewn together. Dr. Headington has suggested that this vellum may have been made from human skin. On it are listed several star maps and charts of stars and planets. The manuscript also includes a treatise on how to cast horoscopes. Unlike other astrological treatises, which focus on how the “native” (the person or geographical location for whom the horoscope is cast) can achieve a horoscope beneficial to oneself, De Stellis Maleficarum appears to concentrate solely on how to cast a horoscope in such a way as to increase the influence of hostile spells or an enemy’s bad luck.
While traditional astrology seeks to increase the influence of “benefic” (good) planets like Jupiter and Venus and avoid the influence of “malefic” (bad) planets like Mars and Saturn, De Stellis Maleficarum seeks the opposite. There is quite a long discursion in the middle third on the manipulation of a horoscope to maximize the malign influence of the caput draconis (Dragon’s Head, the northernmost point where the Moon’s orbit crosses the ecliptic) on an enemy.
This manuscript is highly instructive, not least because it shows a hitherto unknown use in astrology. Traditional (and modern) astrology is passive and self-oriented whereas al-Hazred’s work indicates a way to use stars, not just for one’s own gain, but against others. There are also in the latter part of the discursion on malefics, several passages that could be spells or invocations to al-Hazred’s peculiar belief system. All in all, this is a priceless find. Hopefully, further study will yield an edited version in print.