UK: The Society for Esoteric Endeavour, 2018. First Edition Thus. Hardcover. First Printing of this edition, the first Hardcover Edition of a work first issued in paper wrappers in 1895. Afterword by Christopher Josiffre. 139 pp. Octavo, original black cloth titled and decorated in white, decorative embossed endpapers. 193 copies were printed, of which this is one of 74 copies issued in cloth with embossed endpapers; there were also 50 copies in leather and 63 copies in cloth with plain endpapers. Curiously, this copy is not numbered, although we think they were supposed to be, so perhaps its an over-run or the publisher missed numbering a few copies. In any event, the book is already very scarce, having sold out in all forms almost instantly - leather bound copies were unavailable within a couple of hours of announcement, and all cloth copies were sold out within a day or so. A fine copy, without dust jacket, as issued. Fine. Item #311000
¶ This work was first published in 1895 in Trinidad and achieved instant obscurity, However, it seems that a bell was rung somewhere as 9 years later, on 8th April 1904 Aiwass instructed Crowley that, as well as the mantras and spells and the work of the wand and the sword, he should learn and teach "the obeah and the wanga" (Liber Al vel Legis / The Book of the Law, Chapter 1 verse 37). At that time, and for a very long time afterwards, the only sympathetic text by a self identified practitioner of Obeah was this work. It was the only book with the more obscure term "Wanga" in the title. It almost as if Aiwass was referring Crowley to this publication! There is good reason to believe that Crowley was aware of the publication. There is an annotated copy of Obeah Simplified in the Yorke Collection at the Warburg Institute. The annotations, appear to emphasise parts of the text which particularly resonates with Crowley's writings. The Afterword and appendices reproduce or describe all the annotations and underlining, and presents expert judgement as to whether they are in Crowley's hand. The matter remains an enigma. Readers are given all the information so that they can judge the issue for themselves. So what do we know of the author. The title page tells us a great deal, and very little. He is described as:- Prof. Dr. Myal Djumboh Cassecanarie, Sc. U. D. etc. It goes on to note that his academic position is Professor of Pneumatics at the T'changa Wanga University. His doctorate is vaguer, but he described as "Quimboiseur to His Excellency the Ex-President of Haiti", an obscure office that can be translated from the French as "Voodoo Sorcerer" with an emphasis upon herbcraft (or poisons). The title page also identifies him "Chevalier de l'Ordre du Vodun Saint des Egbas". or Knight of the Order of the Holy Voodoo of the Egbas, an ethnic group found in modern Nigeria, many of whom were taken as slaves to the Caribbean. It is noted that he is a member of the principal West African and West Indian Scientific Societies.
The author is here expressing a tremendous enthusiasm and affinity for African Diaspora magic (perhaps enriched with some imagination) that was unknown in print at the time, or - indeed - for many decades afterwards. It should be emphasised that Obeah was usually "resistance magic", a response by people who, denied political, economic or military power, utilise magical glamours to obtain influence. Hence it was closely associated with rebellion and was made illegal and vociferously persecuted by the imperial powers. Whenever Obeah was mentioned in books, it was described in extremely negative terms. Except in this work. The legal situation regarding the practice of obeah in 19th Century Trinidad may be a factor in the author's use of a pseudonym. Christopher Josiffe, in Aleister Crowley, Marie de Miramar and the True Wanga, Abrasax No.4 established that the author also penned a series of works in Theosophical journals as Miad Hoyora. It seemed then that he was an Indian Theosophist who had moved to the Caribbean. The present work carries a substantial Afterword by Christopher which permits him to develop his research to reveal that the author was, in fact, a Scot called Ewen! He was a Theosophist who had worked as a chemist in India and then in Caribbean. It seems that wherever he went he showed great empathy for the darker skinned people around him. Whilst in India he wrote about the religious beliefs of the Koi people, hunter gatherers lived in the forests in the south and east. They were not Hindus and were believed by many to be the remnants of the original inhabitants of India. This article is reproduced in the Appendices of the book. When describing Obeah, Ewen draws upon own experience, personal informants as well as previously published accounts of Obeah but he attacks the Christian bias of those authors, sometimes vociferously. He passionately advocates Obeah, urging that it be taught in schools though he does recognise that there can be malpractice. Some traditions he describes, including a whole order of noble spirits that are, it seems, described nowhere else. Aside from Obeah, Ewen also wrote about African magic and this two part article is also reproduced. Amongst Theosophical circles his interest in the magic of the peoples of Africa was almost unique, but not quite. There was one other contributor who also wrote about the subject and with whom Ewen crossed pens. He wrote under the pseudonym Tau-Triadelta and his article too is reproduced in the Appendices as Ewen refers to it in his own writings. We learn from Mr. Josiffre's Afterword that Crowley knew of this gentleman. In fact the Beast suggested he was Jack the Ripper! Some modern ripperologists also now consider him the to be the most likely candidate.