In 1898, a curious edition of De Occulta Philosophia, Henrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim’s celebrated 16th century study of magic and the occult, was published by the Chicago firm of Hahn & Whitehead. Ostensibly an English translation of Agrippa’s most famous work, the 1898 edition included excerpts from Henry Morley’s 1856 biography, and an entirely new chapter, “The Magic Mirror,” explaining how to construct “that wonderful instrument so long used by advanced Mystics for communication between the two worlds.” A great deal of preparation goes into a magic mirror’s assembly: the would-be Mystic must have “pure and lofty aspirations and desires,” plus a 6.5” x 8.5” concave glass, a brush, a pint of turpentine, and a tube of asphaltum. After cleaning the glass with turpentine and applying a coat of asphaltum to one side, the mirror is magnetized by moving one’s palms in circular motions above it for several minutes. Two more coats of asphaltum later, the mirror is ready to receive messages from the Astral Brotherhood of Magic, an association of mystics spanning the seen and unseen world alike.
Today, of course, we can just buy a magic mirror from Lululemon, which arrives ready to receive messages from world class fitness instructors and the country’s top personal trainers out of the box, no magnetizing required. This week’s Saturday Night Live, hosted by Nick Jonas, took a look at these modern-day gateways to the astral plane. Despite all their bleeding-edge technology, today’s magic mirrors are still prone to some of the same design flaws occultists have been complaining about for millennia.
I’m sorry, but any product that starts at $1,495 (Mirror membership separate) should not have the ability to cast its user into the Void of Azuzel. A mirror built using the Hahn & Whitehead method only costs a few dollars, and although they don’t come with built-in Tai Chi or kettlebell workouts, the worst-case scenario is one of those Astral Brotherhood of Magic dullards showing up to bore you to death with a bunch of New Age gibberish. The Void of Azuzel was originally designed to punish prodigality, avarice’s mirror image, and vanity, pride reflected back on itself. It is wholly inappropriate to banish consumers there for all eternity simply because they spent an exorbitant amount of money on a mirror that allows them to work out while staring lovingly at their own reflections, and—oh, I guess that does kind of make sense. Azuzel, you’ve done it again!