Dictionnaire Infernal translation 02 (preface)

Here is the preface as translated from the 1863 edition of the Dictionnaire Infernal.

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PREFACE (1863).
The immense collection of materials that compiles the Infernal Dictionary includes confusing aberrations and erroneous origins  that almost always grazes the truth. The Church, whose torch never fades, can be a sure guide in these eccentricities. The works of which, before this book, have addressed these varied and extremely numerous materials. Materials that are generally, with few exceptions, indigestible clusters of extravagant ideas, incomplete compilations, interminable discussions, and disordered or bad books in every sense of the word. Before now, the reader who wanted to navigate this mysterious maze of distorted, misleading beliefs, was required to seek out and collect many rare books with little subject matter, spend years and large sums of money researching and risking his faith on many occasions. The money, pain and risk are not required by this new edition of the Infernal Dictionary.

We say “this new edition,” because, in the first two published in 1818 and in 1825, the author, fighting the huge phalanx of popular errors and mysterious deceptions, fell deep into fatal distraction. He wanted the truth out of the source, instead of relying on the unalterable Church, he was dazzled by the light of a proud philosophy without authority, whose teachings have misled frivolous minds for a very long time. There he had studied till 1841, until finally realizing the light was missing and found only in the unwavering and always safe doctrines. So he completely redesigned the work, recognizing that superstitions, crazy beliefs, science and occult practices, more or less tacit insurrections against the religion came as deserters of faith or heresy or schism, or lines less defined.
Any man who studies history with righteous intentions recognizes that the Church constantly struggles against superstitions and infernal trickery; It never stops shedding light on false beliefs about foolish fears and the dangerous practices of doctor’s secret sciences.

To cite only a few testimonials, Augustine says that superstitions are the reproach of mankind. He condemned Origen more strongly and with more weight than encyclopaedists. Pope Leo X proclaimed those engaged in divination and other superstitious practices as infamy. The fourth council of Carthage excludes them from the congregation. The provincial council held at Toulouse in 1590 ordered the confessors and preachers to uproot by frequent exhortations and solid reasons, the superstitious ignorance of religion that was introduced into practice. The Council of Trent, after condemning these various errors, formally ordered the bishops to defend the faithful from anything that can bring them to superstition and the next scandal.

Thousands must meet this need of testimony. Suffice it to add, without any fear of denial, for the Church alone has the means and graces needed to address these aberrations so often dangerous and always abominable.
What may have been overlooked amid the clamor by interested philosophers is that the only men who are free from superstitions are faithful children of the Church, because they alone possess the truth. The doubters, the otherwise, all seem to justify this great belief, that those who are separated from God have a strayed mind, because, among them, the most incredulous are the most superstitious. They reject the revealed dogmas, and they believe in ghosts and have fear of the number 13; they have a prejudice against Friday, they seek the explanation of dreams, they consult fortune-tellers, they study in the future combinations of numbers; they fear the omens. A quoted scholar of today continues the elixir of life; a famous mathematician believes populated elements, cabalistic species; a philosopher who does not know if he believes in God and who performs ceremonies out of a grimoire to bring the devil.

This book therefore reproduces the aspects of the most strange developments of the human spirit; It exposes everything that affects the spirits, elves, fairies, genies, demons, ghosts, witches and their evil spells, the prestige of the sorcerers, the nomenclature and the functions of demons and of the magicians, the superstitious traditions, the-narratives of supernatural facts and popular tales. It opens the hundred fantastic doors of the future, by clear definition of divinations, from the chiromancie of bohemians up to the art of predicting by the mark of coffee or the game of cards. Astrology, alchemy, the Cabbala, phrenology, magnetism, have their records here, summarized from many pages. Finally, spiritualism, talking tables and the progress of magnetism are located in these pages. For forty-five years, the author has continued to patiently expand his research through thousands of volumes. Before him, no one had thought to bring together in one body of work all varieties that compiles the Infernal Dictionary, and no one can deny the usefulness of this endeavor.

If a group can create and prove their deformities, superstitions and errors will always corrupt or betray an obscurred foundation of truth. Thus, gradually, the light is produced in poor intelligences who refuse to rise to the sublime mysteries of faith, and subside firmly in the belief of the grossest frauds. This book provides weapons to friends of the truth, to confound the disappointments that the spirits offer who think they are superior because they do not feel their own weakness. On top of these benefits, we wanted to satisfy the taste of our time, requiring spicy readings, and helping subjects, we provide very frequently these eccentricities, these oddities to fulfil that need.

The author has reviewed this sixth edition with great care,  and has increased the work with an additional 800 articles and 550 illustrations, among which 72 portraits of demons, drawn by M. L. Breton according to the documents of the most curious demonographer, Wierus.

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So there you have it. A complete, translated preface that stays as true as possible to the original text, without sounding like it was written by Yoda.

More to come

 

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2 Responses to “Dictionnaire Infernal translation 02 (preface)”

  1. Thank you so much! I’m a huge fan of demonology and the occult, and have been frustrated by my inability to read so many of the old texts running around on the internet, which are mostly in French or medieval Latin.
    Also, if you should ever have the time, I recommend a book called Forbidden Rites by Richard Kieckhefer, which concerns an examination of a medieval demonic text and the rites therein, which is just a fabulous read for fans of historical magic techniques and the occult.

    • You are very welcome. Thank you for your interest and support of the translation project. We share your frustration of knowledge blocked by language. After all, it’s why this blog exists.
      Jacques Collin de Plancy not only offers valuable information in this work, but more importantly he includes all of his sources. If one is a collector of occult knowledge, this is the checklist one needs, but it all starts with being able to read it.

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