Real Time Reading, Uncategorized

Real-Time Reading – 23 September – Chapter 6


Chapter Six

In Chapter Six, we meet Miriam – whose putative history we’ll leave alone for a bit. To the extent that anyone finds this helpful, the name “Miriam” means rebellious in Hebrew. Miriam was a prophetess of the Hebrew Bible. Specifically, Miriam prophesies the birth of Moses and criticizes her father for divorcing his wife to avoid bringing children into the world. Hm.

The manuscript inside the next box was smaller than the last, but it contained interesting sketches of alchemical apparatus and snippets of chemical procedures that read like some unholy combination of Joy of Cooking and a poisoner’s notebook. 

In Deb’s post on Chapter Six and in the All Souls Real Time Reading Companion, she links alchemical manuscripts for us to browse and enjoy. Since she published the Reading Companion, one of her sources–the Getty Research Institute–started an exhibition on the Art of Alchemy.

The Planet Mercury as a Doctor on Horseback
The Planet Mercury as a Doctor on Horseback, from Descriptions of Planets, Zodiacs, and Comets, about 1464 (The Getty Institute)

Because Diana mentions “Joy of Cooking,” you might also  be interested in Mariabella Charles’s Book of Cookery Recipes and Medical Cures (ca. 1678), also linked by the Getty Institute. The Getty also links to a fabulous video on the creation of pigments and how alchemy relates to the use of color in medieval manuscripts.  

My usual meal consisted of a twenty-minute break in the nearby bookstore’s second-floor cafe. I smiled at the thought of Miriam occupying herself during that time, trapped in Blackwell’s where tourists congregated to look at postcards, smack between the Oxford guidebooks and the true crime section. 

Blackwell’s is an Oxford landmark and tourist attraction in its own right.  They’ve been trading books since 1879. You can find the Guardian’s “Interview with a Bookstore” segment on Blackwell’s here.

For those of you who simply can’t resist the grisly, the gory, or the spooky, there’s apparently an entire subgenre of crime fiction devoted to occult murders. Perhaps Netflix consulted Peter Knox.

You can find the All Souls Podcast episode on Chapters 5-6 here. Daemon’s Domain covers Chapter Six in this episode.

We covered Chapters 5-6 in Episode 2 – Why So Angry?

If you’d like to get in touch, you can find us on Twitter @chamomilenclove or by e-mail at

See you in Chapter 7!



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