• Dagmar

‘Book of Life’

This is a copper book that has been referred to as ‘The Book of Life’. It appears to be made from thin copper sheets bound into a book. Unlike the ‘Book of Secrets’, which is essentially a collection of copper pages with cryptic markings stitched together, the Book of Life teems with mushrooms growing from it. The pages have a vivid range of colours with patterns that are not dissimilar to those in the Book of Secrets, which are supposed to be cryptograms.

The use of thin copper sheets again suggests that this book is unlikely to date before the mid-1800s. There has been a suggestion that the Book of Secrets might have been owned (or possibly even written) by August Strindberg during his stay in Lund. It was there that he wrote Inferno, which describes some of his alchemical works. It is known that the Book of Life is in a private collection in Sweden, possibly in the Växjö area, but details are scant.

What is remarkable about this book is that although the mushrooms appear to be ‘normal’ mushrooms, a closer look reveals them to be fruits of the imagination. While it is tempting to see this book as one of the mythical books referred to by Sendivogius, which when treated with an elixir bring forth metal life, it is more likely to be permanently inanimate, being the product of someone who has mastery over metals. Although maybe…. Just maybe….