The Black Pullet, the Druid of Menapienne, Red Magic, or the Cream of the Occult Sciences, with derivatives from the first of these works, such as the Queen of the Hairy Flies, the Green Butterfly, &c., form a class by themselves, and, with one exception, they are quite unserious publications, which can scarcely be called spurious, as they are almost without pretence. 1 They belong to the late end of the eighteenth century. Dr. Encausse, the head of the French Martinists, suggests that they were all fabricated at Rome and infers--as seen previously--that we owe them to the industry of priests, which seems to follow somewhat loosely from the evidence, is characteristic of himself and his school, and is indeed of much the same value as the statement in Isis Unveiled, that the habitual practice of Black Magic at the Vatican could be "easily proved."
The Black Pullet is far the most curious of its class and there is indeed sufficient individuality in its narrative to lift it much above the paltry impostures with which it connects. Its chief occult interest centres in the series of talismanic rings which it incorporates with the text, itself a species of magical romance. It makes no claim to antiquity, except that it embodies its wisdom, and it does not appeal to Solomon. In a book of Black Magic, as it certainly is, though the Goëtic intention is disguised, such modesty makes for virtue. Many of the Talismans seem to be original devices; at least they connect with nothing in occult symbolism known to the present writer. At the same time they are constructed in accordance with the rules laid down by the Fourth Book attributed to Cornelius Agrippa as regards infernal signatures.
The Black Pullet reappeared during its own period at various dates, with slight alterations--once as the Treasure of the Old Man of the Pyramids, when it was followed by a sequel or companion under the title of the Black Screech Owl. It has been reprinted within recent years at Paris in an edition intended for bibliophiles but bearing no indications of bibliographical research. Though modest in the claims which have been specified, the title of the original edition is portentous enough, namely, "The Black Pullet, or the Hen with the Golden Eggs, comprising the Science of Magical Talismans and Rings, the Art of Necromancy and of the Kabalah, for the Conjuration of Ærial and Infernal Spirits, of Sylphs, Undines and Gnomes, serviceable for the acquisition of the Secret Sciences, for the Discovery of Treasures, for obtaining power to command all beings and to unmask all Sciences and Bewitchments. The whole following the Doctrines of Socrates, Pythagoras, Zoroaster, Son of the Grand Aromasis, and other philosophers whose works in MS. escaped the conflagration of the Library of Ptolemy. Translated from the Language of the Magi and that of the Hieroglyphs by the Doctors Mizzaboula-Jabamîa, Danhuzerus, Nehmahmiah, Judahim, and Eliaeb. Rendered into French by A. J. S. D. R. L. G. F." The place of publication is Egypt, which probably stands for Rome, and the date is 740, meaning 1740, which, however, is untrue, as we shall see. It may be said at once that there is no pretence in the text to fulfil the magnificent assurances of the title.
The preface entreats that the Black Pullet may not be confounded with the collections of reveries and errors which so many have sought to accredit by announcing supernatural effects. This request, after due consideration, most readers will find it impossible to grant. The work, it has been said, is a romance, and the first thing which it makes clear is that even the addition of a thousand years to the date in the title is insufficient. 1 It is the narrative of a man who "formed part of the expedition to Egypt," and was "an officer in the army of the genius." The reference is, of course, to Napoleon and at best the date of composition is little more than a century ago. While in Egypt, the narrator was sent upon an expedition to the Pyramids, accompanied by some mounted chasseurs. They lunched under the shadow of the "grand colossus," when they were attacked by a horde of Arabs of the desert; the comrades of the writer were slain and even he was left for dead upon the ground. On returning to consciousness, he surrendered himself to mournful reflections in the immediate anticipation of his end and delivered a valedictory address to the setting sun, when a stone was rolled back in the Pyramid, and a venerable man issued forth, who was proclaimed to be a Turk by his turban.
This personage did not fail to discover the corpses which strewed the desert, nor to identify their nation. When the officer in his turn was examined, he manifested life by kissing the hand of the ancient man, who, superior to all prejudices which might have been dictated to the ordinary Mussulman by patriotism or religion, took pity on him, revived him by a wonderful cordial which put the wounded man upon his feet, and he followed his preserver into the Pyramid, wherein was the home of the ancient man and a mighty house of Magic. There were vast halls and endless galleries, subterranean chambers piled with treasures,apparitions of blazing lamps, ministering spirits innumerable, magic suppers; above all things there was the Black Pullet.
In a word, diurnal life was illustrated throughout by the supernatural; it was a methodised version of Aladdin with an inner meaning by Astaroth. The sage himself proved to be the sole heir of the Magi and the makers of those Egyptian hieroglyphics which are the "despair of the learned," while, not least, he was himself in quest of an heir, for he felt that he was about to pass away. In fine, the French officer, having acquired the Turkish language by means of a grammar which had its root in sorcery, and being thus enabled to converse with his protector, which on the whole seems superfluous, seeing that his protector possessed a talisman which communicated immediate proficiency in all tongues, was instructed in the powers and wonders of twenty-two talismanic figures and the rings corresponding to these, as well as in the secret of the manufacture of the Black Pullet, which possessed more skill in gold-finding than the divining rod in the discovery of water. After these instructions, in spite of many prayers, and the ministries of the genius Odous, the just man expired upon a sofa, while the fortunate kinsman in philosophy swooned at the feet of his benefactor. In due course, accompanied by the genius who had been transferred to his service, the French officer managed to depart from Egypt, laden with treasures, and with the ashes of the sage in a costly urn. He took ship for Marseilles, stilled a tempest on the voyage and returned to his native country. He made his abode in Provence, spending his days in experiments with the Black Pullet, or in study, meditation and rambling. He undertook at length to write this memorial of his good fortune, in which he threatens the publishers of any pirated edition to adorn them, by means of a talisman, with ears six inches longer than those of Midas. But this does not seem to have prevented the publishers.
The Black Pullet disclaims all connection with Black Magic and is duly to be identified therewith, firstly by its characters and secondly by their pretended power over evil spirits; though it should be observed that the infernal beings mentioned in the title are not on the surface devils but Salamanders--that is to say, elementary Spirits of Fire. But while it thus transcends Black Magic--if it is requisite to make the distinction--it is not superior to plagiarism and hence incorporates many pages of the Comte de Gabalis.
For the evocation of the genii who served the Old Man of the Pyramid it suffices to say: THOMATOS, BENESSER, FLIANTER. You are then liable to be encompassed by thirty-three several intelligences. To obtain their consideration say: LITAN, IZER, OSNAS, and they will bow down before you, individually remarking: NANTHER. The words SOUTRAM, UBARSINENS will cause them to transport you through the air wheresoever you are inclined. Upon the utterance of the one word RABIAM they will return you to your own abode. It is necessary, however, to be fortified by the talismans and rings of the master, but they can be obtained by a cheap process. In the cabinet of the Old Man of the Pyramid they were formed of the precious metals and were resplendent with gems, but they are held to answer all practical purposes if the rings are composed of bronzed steel and the talismans of satin, in strict accordance with the description which here follows.