Regan (2020 Congress)

Vajra Regan
(Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto)

New Title

“The Secret in the Prologue to the Collected Treasures:
Biblical Allusions, Occult References, and Coded Language in a Thirteenth–Century Medical-Magical Lapidary”

Hermes Trismegistus. Frontispiece image (Lyons, 1669) via Wikimedia Commons and Wellcome Images (Wellcome_L0000980).

Hermes Trismegistus. Frontispiece image (Lyons, 1669) via Wikimedia Commons and Wellcome Images.

Abstract of Paper
Intended To be presented at the 55th International Congress on Medieval Studies [CANCELLED]
(Kalamazoo, 2020)

Rescheduled (with Title Change) for the 56th International Congress on Medieval Studies
(Kalamazoo, 2021)

Session on “Prologues in Medieval Texts of Magic, Astrology, and Prophecy”

Organized by Vajra Regan

Sponsored by the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence (for the 2020 Congress)
Co-Sponsored by the RGME and the Societas Magica (for the 2021 Congress)

Organized by Vajra Regan

(Session Rescheduled from the cancelled 2020 Congress, and partly Rearranged for the 2021 Congress)

2020 Congress Program

2021 Congress Program Planning

[Published on 10 March 2020, with an Update on 17 March 2020 reporting the Cancellation of the Congress as a whole,
and with an Update on 19 November reporting the Rescheduling for the 2021 Congress



This paper examines three brief prologues all taken from a previously unstudied thirteenth-century medical-magical lapidary. The lapidary is notable for the way it assimilates and reconfigures various texts of Hermetic and Solomonic magic. Although the author has taken pains to disguise his source material, a close reading of the prologues reveals that he has inserted certain clues that point to the magical nature of his work.

Read together, the prologues form a coherent narrative of fall and redemption in which the study of precious stones and their (magical) properties is presented as an accessus to God; however, it is also a narrative in which biblical references alternate, often playfully, with the standard tropes of the Hermetic and Solomonic literature. In this way, the prologues provide a moral and spiritual justification for the study of precious stones while simultaneously alluding to the occult philosophy underpinning the entire work.


We thank Vajra for his contributions to Research Group activities, including the exemplary organization of this Session.

See, for example, the Abstract for his Paper at the 2019 Congress .