How One Library Is Digitizing Their Ancient Occult Collection

Remember that one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Buffy’s watcher Giles has Willow spend the whole summer scanning his vast library of ancient occult books into the computer for the Scooby gang? Well, something like that is happening in real life, although it’s doubtful any of these books could help summon a lame demon at your local high school…as far as we know.

We’ve learned via Open Culture that The DaVinci Code author Dan Brown shares Giles’ passion for ancient occult manuscripts. In  the summer of 2016, he made a €300,000 donation to Amsterdam’s Ritman Library. That Brown’s quite a fan of these ancient occult texts shouldn’t come as a surprise to most of his fans. He visited the library when he was writing his novels The Lost Symbol and Inferno.

The huge gift along with a donation from Dutch Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds has meant that the Ritman Library can digitize thousands of texts. Quartz Media detailed that Ritman’s collection includes “pre-1900 texts on alchemy, astrology, magic, and theosophy,” including the Corpus Hermeticum (1472), Giordano Bruno’s Spaccio de la bestia trionfante (1584), and the first printed version of the tree of life (1516). So, in short, probably not anything that you have available at your local library or that you can obtain using Amazon Prime.

The plan is for all 3,500 ancient books to come online soon as part of Ritman’s “ Hermetically Open” project. Once the digitization process is complete, you’ll be able to read them all yourself–assuming you know the necessary languages, that is. You can subscribe to The Ritman Library’s newsletter to be notified when the texts become available. In the meantime, you can check the above video detailing how these books are being digitized for the modern era.

Are you ready to pore over these ancient writings? Let us know below in the comments.

Images: The Ritman Library

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