Letanie et Arcanae Sperma Vorax

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The "Litany and Sacred Secrets of the Devouring Seed" was published as a 236 page Latin folio edition in Florence in 1584. Accounts differ as to how many copies were produced in its sole printing, and its author and illustrator were uncredited and remain unknown. Added to the Index Liborum Prohibitorum in 1586, most copies were soon burned.
Letanie et Arcanae Sperma Vorax, photograph by A. Skyler, 1969
At least one copy was listed in catalogs of the library of Emperor Rudolf II at Prague, circa 1600. A separate copy is believed to have been held in John Dee’s library at Mortlake, and eventually to have passed to scholar Méric Casaubon, though none is listed in inventories of his estate. Only a copy found in a ruined Spanish mission in California in the 1960s, and now believed to be in the possession of supervillain Fleur du Mal, is known definitively to have survived into the 20th century.

Usually classed as an herbal, the work apparently offers extensive information on Old and New World flora, as well as illustrations and descriptions of many mythical plants, purportedly referencing lost works of Theophrastus, Pliny, Marco Polo, John Mandeville, and various Arabic sources. More than a mere catalog, however, the “Letanie” also apparently contains elements of a grimoire or philosophical treatise, advancing a belief in the supremacy of the vegetable kingdom on Earth, and instructing the reader on the propitiation and invocation of its spirits or essences. While contemporary accounts vouch for the effectiveness of certain of its recipes, there is no such record of any of the more blasphemous rituals it describes being undertaken. It is therefore uncertain whether any of the paranormal abilities of Fleur du Mal can be attributed directly to the “Letanie”.

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