Inv. SAH/mn-34436, SAH/mn-34472, SBB/dr-33360 et SBB/dr-33350
Magic Mirror

Lot acquired in 1999 from one of the Surnateum's correspondents in Paris
Origin: Icon: 18th century Russia; Mirror: late 19th century Prague; Works of Maria de Naglowska: ca. 1920-1930.

This magic mirror was manufactured in Prague around 1880. It was acquired by the museum at the same time as an icon of the Virgin of Kazan and a series of astrological journals (Votre Destin) and works by Maria de Naglowska dedicated to Mr Dufour, who worked for her as a kind of secretary. The mirror will always judiciously answer any question, provided it is asked by a sensitive trained in catoptromancy.

  • Maria de Naglowska (15 August 1883-17 April 1936)
    Called 'La Sophiale' by Marc Pluquet, she was the daughter of General de Naglowski, the governor of the province of Kazan, and Catherine Kamaroff. Her father was poisoned by a Nihilist and she lost her mother in 1895. Having received an excellent aristocratic education, she married a violin soloist, a Jew named Hopenko, and moved to Berlin and later to Geneva. She had three children: Alexandre, Marie and André.
    After separating from her husband, she moved to Italy, where she met a Russian émigré with an interest in the occult. He initiated her into the Hyperborean tradition and was probably the one who gave her this incomparable magic mirror made in Prague. As she could speak several languages fluently, she then travelled to Egypt, where the Theosophical Society of Alexandria asked her to give a series of lectures. She returned to Italy in 1930, and then moved to Paris until 1936. She translated P.B. Randolph's Magia Sexualis, in which one entire chapter is devoted to magic mirrors.
    She lived in Montparnasse, the Bohemian quarter home to artists, writers and philosophers, and gave lectures at the Rotonde and Coupole, in the occultists' corner.
    She wrote other works on Satanism and TTT (third term of the trinity).
    An extreme sensitive, her natural gifts had been developed by many years of occult practice. She would occasionally use her mirror to open a window to the future.
    In late 1935, while consulting the mirror, she had a vision of her impending death. In early 1936, she called together some of her disciples and bade them farewell. It was at this meeting that she gave her mirror and an icon of the Virgin of Kazan to one of her closest collaborators.
  • Mirror and Icon Inv. SAH/mn-34436, SAH/mn-34472
    This magic mirror, manufactured in Prague in or around 1880, still contains its 'familiar spirit' and can be queried by a sensitive who has been properly prepared.
    The art of reading the signs in a mirror is called 'catoptromancy', a practice that dates back to Chaldea and Mesopotamia. Magicians use mirrors made of copper, silver and gold, and sometimes even the surfaces of water, ink or blackened nails.
    In the Zoroastrian tradition, the mirror (daena) represents the soul contemplating itself contemplating itself.
    History reveals many famous mirrors, such as the black mirror of John Dee carefully preserved at the British Museum and the mirror which Catherine de Medici used to spy on the movements of her enemies. Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and Beauty and the Beast are the best known fairytales featuring magic mirrors.
    The mirror also represents the other side, and any self-respecting magic mirror will have its 'familiar spirit'. The familiar spirit takes on your appearance when you look in the mirror and leads you astray by making you believe that you are looking at your own reflection.
    This particular mirror is more than one hundred years old. It was manufactured in Czechoslovakia by one of the very few magicians still able to do so. It later came into the possession of Maria de Naglowska.
    This mirror has been designed like a cheval glass and features fine inlaid work. The drawer underneath the mirror contains an old grimoire, some silver coins and an old piece of paper on which are written the French words VIVANT (HE'S ALIVE) and DÉCÉDÉ (HE DIED).
    Other magic mirrors are used in Tibet (me-lon in Tibetan) to purify fragile objects. In this case, their reflection is cleansed. They are also used in the funeral rites of the Lamas and in shamanistic rituals linked to the idea of finding the soul or spirit of the deceased person in the mirror.

The icon (17th century) must be present in the room where the mirror is consulted in order to prevent any negative influence or the incursion of evil forces into our world. Such incursions have happened and the consequences have been disastrous - but that is a story for another time.
The miraculous icon of the Virgin of Kazan is one of the best known and best loved Marian icons in Russia. Her miraculous manifestation dates back to 1579: 27 years after Ivan the Terrible subjugated the region (taking it from Kazan's Tatar Khan), the virgin appeared before him in the form of an icon to reinforce the converted inhabitants in the Christian faith and to encourage the others to believe in her. She revealed herself in the dream of an extremely pious 8-year-old girl named Matrona. The Virgin asked her to warn Bishop Jeremy that he had to disinter an icon bearing her effigy at the spot that she indicated, and pay tribute to her. The effigy was found by the young girl in the ruins of a burnt-out house. The archbishop himself carried it in a solemn procession, first to the neighbouring church of Saint Nicholas and then to the Cathedral of the Annunciation, while miraculous and unexpected healings were reported by those who invoked the mother of God before her icon. What set her apart from the others is that the baby Jesus is always represented head-on, up to the knees and that only one of his hands is visible - the one he blesses with. Whereas the face of his mother (Hodigitria type, but with an inclined face) ends below the shoulders. The feast day for this icon is 8 July, the day of its discovery, and also 22 October, in memory of the liberation of Moscow and Russia from the Polish invasion of 1612.
This specific icon is reputed to be a weeping icon, and like any holy icon of this kind the Virgin's eyes always follow you when you look at her.

  • Dedicated books and magazines ( Inv. SBB/dr-33360 and SBB/dr-33350 )
    Original edition of Magia Sexualis by P.B. Randolph, dedicated by Maria de Naglowska to her disciple and friend, Mr Dufour.
    An original copy of La Lumière du sexe, a work on Satanic initiation by the same author was found in the lot acquired by the museum, as well as these magazines on astrology and occult research. One of the copies includes an article on Russian and Satanist occult circles in Paris.