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THE Book Part II

To: alt.magick,alt.pagan,alt.religion.wicca,alt.satanism
From: catherine yronwode 
Subject: Re: "THE Book" Part II (and hello to Jules the Bold)
Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 09:10:30 GMT

Keyword search terms:

       Herman Slater A Book of Pagan Rituals
       Warlock Shop Magickal Childe New York
       plagiarism plagiarized stole ripped off
       Ed Fitch John Hansen Joseph Wilson
       Tony Kelly Herman Enderle John Score
       Tom Delong Gwydion Penderwen Formulary
       Waxing Moon Crystal Well Pagan Way

Jeff Caliban Crowe wrote: 

> Anyone who is actually interested in the truth about Catherine
> Yronwode's publishing history, her thievery of the works of others,
> particularly the recipes contained within Herman Slater's Magickal
> Formulary, and her endorsement of the illegal harvesting of posts from
> Usenet is welcome to email me,. I'll be happy to provide such proof.

and, in another  post, Jeff Caliban Crowe wrote (to me): 

> you, who liberally "borrowed"
> material from The Magickal Formulary by Herman Slater. Did you really
> think that after poor old Herman died, you could just take what you
> wanted without paying his estate anything? Or that if you just left
> out how much of this or that, but kept the ingredients, that no one
> would notice?

I know that replying to Caliban will open me up to more of his
ugly remarks, probably to be followed by a chorus of one-line top
postings by the entire ARW crew, spammed across usenet -- but
this is not the first time he has made the false accusation that
i commited "thievery" or "borrowed" the Slater formulary, and
that is just dead wrong. 

So i shall set the record straight, not for Caliban -- because he
is irrational, abusive, and obsessive when it comes to harassing
me in usenet -- but in case anyone else is curious about what's
up -- and might wish to check out some of the history behind the
use of Slater's formulary in the Neo-Pagan community. 

Back in the 1970s, Herman Slater ran an occult store in New York
called The Warlock Shop, which soon changed locations and names
and is better remembered as the Magickal Childe oocult shop.
Herman used to buy from me, but not formulary things -- he bought
the self-interpreting horoscope blanks which i had designed and
published under the "Durga-Shiva Augury Company" imprint. 

Herman and his staff kept a semi-private formulary at the
Magickal Childe. This forumalry was co-created by Herman, his
partner Ed, and virtually all of his shop's staff, and also
contained recipes gleaned from customers and from previously
published formulary books. Eventually Herman published it and it
became public knowlegde. 

I had my own formulary too, which derived from a combination of
four sources: recipes given to me by old folks and shop owners,
recipes that had been printed in folklore collections, first-hand
perfume analysis, and recipes from 19th and early 20th century formularies.

The only place Herman Slater's formulas are mentioned in my
writings is on a web page (and first drafts for that page in
usenet posted during the late 1990s) where i compared some
magickal oil and perfume formulas published in usenet to my own
formulas and those in my book collections. Basically, i was
offering alternatives to the Slater and other Neo-Pagan
formularies and also explaining why some of them are less than

The Slater formulary was a collective effort, for which Slater
claimed copyright ownership. Herman had died of AIDS, without
heirs, in 1992, and the copyright status of the material seemed
unclear. There was no literary estate in evidence and because
Herman had already confessed, before his death, to having
plagiarized the works of others in "A Book of Pagan Rituals," no
publisher seemed eager to pick his dubiously derived material up
and reprint it.  

As is stated on the web page in question:

"During the late 1990s i was sent an entire electronic file
of the Slater formulary, which bore within its MS Word
coding a notation that the file had been edited by Aidan
Kelly, a well-known Neo-Pagan author. I do not use the
Slater formulas in my own work nor did i publish them or
pass the electronic file around, but i did keep a copy on my
hard drive and i did use it to identify which recipes on this
formula-analysis page had been published by Slater, and
i added notations to that effect on the web page."

A few more months passed and i was contacted by two men who
claimed that they owned the copyright to the Slater formulary. I
assumed that they had gotten the electronic file -- which had
gone all over the net by then -- and decided to typeset it, but
they claimed to be one of Herman's former employees and his
brother, to whom Slater had bequeathed the formulary.

When they found my page on formulas, presumably by searching on
the keywords < Herman Slater formulary > or some such, they asked
me to take down all of my comparisons between the Slater
formulary and traditional hoodoo recipes. I had never heard of
these men by name (although it turned out i had met one of them
in Herman's shop years before) and so i asked them how they came
to own the material -- but they could not or would not show me
the path by which they came to hold the copyright. 

In turn, i told them that what i had produced was a "fair usage"
review of several formulary books -- and that i had no interest
in reprinting the Slater book, for we all knew it could be had
for free in electronic file form anyway. 

When i offered to remove quantities and to mention the URL for
their sales-page of the reprinted book with each formula i
reviewed, they were agreeable. I did not openly challenge their
right to the ownership of the material and they got multiple
mentions of their sales site URL on my page, while i was able to
continue using the recipes as illustrations of how
non-traditional formulas can be identified.

As far as i know, they are content with this, as i am i, and
there is no bad blood either way. So that's where it stands now.
On the web page where i wrote up my analyses and comparisons
between a sampling of the Slater formulas and the formulas
published by John M. Hansen, Ray Malbrough, Nancy Booth, Zora
Neale Hurston, and myself, i removed any precise measurements for
the Slater recipes and i gave a URL to the site run by the folks
who are currently publishing the book, in case people want to buy

My web page in question is at

--and if you read it, please read all the links to other pages
cited (for further recipes) and please read it all the way to the
very end. 
It is interesting to note that the current publishers have not
copyrighted the Slater formulary in their own names, simply
continuing the "Magickal Childe" name and collecting the money
for the book as if Herman's Magickal Childe shop still existed. 

To date no one has challenged their right to do this, and i doubt
that anyone will. Herman died without heirs, and considering how
much he stole from John Hansen, Joseph B. Wilson, Ed Fitch and so
forth when he reprinted their Pagan Way material, and his
confession of same, it would have been difficult for any putative
heirs of Herman's to claim that anything he produced was

Usenet posts relating to the Herman's plagiarism can also be
found at


(Remember to put these URLs all on one line to link to them.)

Within the past year i received email from one of the current
Slater formulary publishers in which he says he understands that
i am "sincere" in my desire to compare the Slater formulas with
others. I was happy to hear that for, although i take a position
opposed to Slater in many ways, i freely acknowledge that some of
the formulas bearing his name as author do have an authentic

The purpose of Slater's publication was to spread his shop's
formulas around and to produce money for Herman Slater. The fact
that many Neo-Pagan occult shop owners use the Slater formulary
in preparing their house brands of oils is apparent to anyone
with a good perfumer's nose -- but since there is no request in
the book for royalties to be paid by perfumers who choose to use
the Slater formulas, it is obvious that folks who do that are
using the book exactly as Herman intended. The same is true of
the formulas published by Zora Neale Hurston, Ray Malbrough, John
M. Hansen, and others, including myself. There is no licensing
fee required for their use and no contract of exclusivity,
implied or express.    

So whatever Caliban wishes to imply is going on there ... well,
it just ain't. I am based in a much older and more traditional
layer of African-American hoodoo athan Slater was nd my
understanding of plant symbolism derieves from that tradition and
from Euroepean ascriptions of the planetary and elemental
symbolisms of herbs (e.g. from Gerard and his ilk), so i don't
use the Slater formulary in my own work unless i am asked by a
customer to recreate one of the specific Magickal Childe shop
perfume recipes. 

This is not to say that i find Slater's formulary valueless or
not of interest. I am always willing to discuss it, because it
has had an obvious impact on the urban Neo-Pagan movement.
Furthermore, i have been in contact with another of Slater's
former employees, and he is telling me the names of many of the
individuals who originated the non-traditional formulas in the
book, which is fascinating to me, because i have long been
curious about how such a mish-mash of diverse ideas came to be
collected in one volume. I do not have his permission to publish
our correspondence, but i hope that in time he himself might be
moved to produce a fuller memoir of how the Magickal Childe
forumulary came to be compiled. 

cat yronwode 

Hoodoo in Theory and Practice -

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