Magic continues to fascinate us, even in the midst of all our technology, as the incredible success of the Harry Potter books and movies demonstrates.
But magic has been part of human life since the darkest and most ancient times, according to archivist Gionni Di Gravio, who has unearthed a rare French manuscript about magic and talismans from the University of Newcastle's rare books collection.
Mr DiGravio says the book, dated 1704 from the reign of the Sun King Louis XIV, places the university in a privileged position. "It's about the making of celestial talismans, and such works are very scarce in this country. To have such a volume places us in the vanguard of the great European libraries."
Just what does this occult book contain? Spells, potions, black magic?
Mr DiGravio says it's a manual of practical magic, which instructs readers in the art of using talismans, believed to attract and magnify the powers of the planets and give the user power over angels.
It seems Newcastle university students are not immune to the power of magic. "There's been a huge number of enrolments in the university's Classics courses on Magic and Witchcraft in Antiquity. It's the most successful non first-year subject in the department's history, and that was the impetus for us to acquire this book," he said.
Note in passing to Mary Beard (who was playing with keywords the other day) ... the hot keywords right now are Harry Potter ... my post on on Wiseman as Dumbledore t'other day spawned a huge number of hits from places I've never heard of ...