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Dangerous Books, Hidden Knowledge and Demons in Vellum: The Keepers of Occult Books in Libraries

Tonight’s speaker undertook a mission to find out how much (and how) libraries hinder people’s access to the occult texts.

A book could be a spiritual landmine, for reading an occult text could ruin an innocent life… no? And are there not hidden secrets behind the vellum binding – think Da Vinci Code, think Rule of Four, think Name of the Rose. These are deep atavistic beliefs that operate consciously or subconsciously in the minds of both the occultists and the keepers of the books. Most occult texts are held in libraries, yet their keepers the librarians are rarely occultists, and some are actually afraid of the occult – and the doors are so often barred…

Tonight’s speaker went on a mission to find out how much (and how) libraries hinder people’s access to the occult texts in their possession. Her field research aimed to do a few things: first, to try to see how libraries reacted to an occultist trying to gain access to occult books. She also (wearing her scholar’s hat) interviewed librarians about their attitudes to occult books and how they felt about being custodians of such material. Her findings were surprising at times, comforting at others and – once or twice – a bit horrifying. This is a talk for anyone who has ever been awestruck in a library, for anyone who has ever sought out the “occult section” of the stacks, or has dreamt of having a private book collection.

Cecile Dubuis, MA, is a librarian at University College London. A lifelong lover of gothic literature, she is involved with the book group Bibliogoth and is an active organiser for the Vampyre Connexion and other London goth societies. Her 2004 dissertation, Libraries and the Occult, involved work with The Warburg Institute, The Wellcome Library, Battersea Public Library, the Library of Avalon and the Theosophical Library.


Cecile Dubois | talks


Date and Time:

23 January 2007 at 7:15 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



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