José Vieira Leitão
The medium of almanacs and prognostication literature has, since at least the fourteenth century, occupied a relevant position within the Portuguese letters, reaching its apex during the extremely troubled nineteenth century, with women at this time stepping out of the literary shadows and taking to this medium as almanac correspondents, directors, and owners. Associated with this moment is also the emergence of occult- and magic-themed almanacs, arising from the overlap of Portuguese prognostication literature and the Books of Saint Cyprian, nineteenth-century grimoires with long-reaching early modern roots.
While the majority of these magical almanacs were associated with either a female name or with a world of (stereotyped) female preoccupations, their roots mark them as distinct from the phenomenon of female occult authorship, which came to prominence in Europe and America during this same time period. Thus, this article explores these almanacs and questions their social and cultural role in late nineteenth-century Portuguese society. Rather than revealing these as expressions of contemporary magical practice, somehow related with other international female-oriented occult publications, what is found is that these represent a continuity with female-dominated forms of folk magic practice in Portuguese urban centers from the early modern period. By providing such identification, this article hopes to offer a new and unexplored avenue for esotericism studies into the Portuguese contemporary period.
Folk literature; Almanac culture; Pulp literature; Prognostication; Feminism; Magic