Bhattah mirrors

Allen W Thrasher athr at LOC.GOV
Wed Feb 22 16:16:16 UTC 2006

There is this most interesting book:
John Patrick Deveney.  Paschal Beverly Randolph : a nineteenth-century Black American spiritualist, rosicrucian, and sex magician. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997.  
Randolph (1825-1874) was born  out of wedlock in New York City,  of a free African-American woman and a white father who did not hang around, but whom Randolph claimed to be a member of the distinguished Virginia family.  (Deveney thinks this is not impossible but there is little proof.)  He became quite successful over decades in the occultist world, as the book's subtitle indicates.  
One of the articles he produced and sold were "Bhattah mirrors," magic mirrors whose consecration seems to have involved sexual rituals and sexual fluids.  Deveney thinks Randolph may have gotten some of his ideas on mirrors on a trip to the Near East in 1861-62 where he claimed to have contacted local occultist circles. (Randolph did travel in Europe and Deveney things it is possible he made a trip to the Near East and even made such contacts, but, unlike his European movements, it is undocumented.) D. says Randolph's ideas on this were confirmed by a book given him by William Gifford Palgrave, a Richard Burton-like figure who was successively a British Army officer in India, a Jesuit, and a diplomat in the British service.  But this was in 1873 near the end of Randolph's life.  So it appears to me the use of sexual rituals in consecrating them was more likely his own invention.  Deveney knows of no such thing in Near Eastern magic.
Anyhow, has anyone heard the _term_ Bhattah mirrors or anything like it?  Of course, Bhatta can be a term of respect for Brahmins.  
Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D., Senior Reference Librarian
South Asia Team, Asian Division
Library of Congress, Jefferson Building 150
101 Independence Ave., S.E.
Washington, DC 20540-4810
tel. 202-707-3732; fax 202-707-1724; athr at
The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library of Congress.

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