Where to find the Golem of Prague

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Out on the Hunt

A long time ago, on a dark night, in a distant kingdom, an old Rabbi was rabidly going through his collection of age-old scrolls and manuscripts. He had remembered an ancient passage in the Kabbalah. Fed up with the way his people were (mis)treated, he was desperate to help his disciples. He decided to create a wild-man, the GOLEM.

A soft wind of change was breezing over the Moldau bank were Rabbi Löw and three of his most trusted servants kneeled down. They meticulously followed the instructions the Kabbalah prescribed; they molded with great care a face, a body and limbs out of the shore’s soggy clay. Under the pail moonlight, like shadows in the night, they circled 7 times around the soulless shape of mud. After repeatedly reciting the incantation “Shanti, Shanti, Dahat, Dahat!”, the torso started glowing, long hairs started growing from it’s scalp and fingernails emerged from its fingers. Precariously, Rabbi Löw then grinded a chem into its forehead, a magical writing meant to restrict the giant’s behavior. From then on, the Golem’s duty was to protect the troubled people of the Jewish Ghetto in Prague. And they lived happily ever after …

Prague Golem creation

 

Wait a minute, no more Jewish prosecution or harassment after the late 16th century? We know better then than, now do we. Unfortunately there’s a darker shade to this legend. The Golem’s ever increasing might, made the being grow uncontrollable and destructive instead of helpful and heroic. Rabbi Löw saw himself again forced to intervene by erasing part of the chem. One lettre, the aleph (א), in the word emet (אמת, “truth” in Hebrew) was removed thus changing the inscription from “truth” to “death” (met מת, meaning “dead”). Hereby the amorf terror of the town got deactivated, reducing it to nothing more than a statue.

Matter-of-course before one askes oneself the obvious. “So where the hell did that statue end up?”

Going back to the roots

Rumor has it that Rabbi Löw hid the statue of the Golem in the attic of his synagogue and removed the staircase to ensure the ban would not be broken. Eventually, years after the passing of the good Rabbi, the Old-New Synagogue was scavenged and ransacked. However no Golem was found. His whereabouts remain a mystery to the present day.

Prague Golem van

I figured I’d pay a visit to the Josefov-quarter myself. Except for King Solomon’s Bakery, depicting the Golem on their panel truck as a mere kitchen aid, I found no further clues to his whereabouts. Maybe a sharp-witted Jacob had an epiphany; carve away the stone. If that’s true than the Golem definitely got spread out over the many graves at the Jewish cemetery.

Prague Jewish cemetary Josefov

It’s a MAD WORLD

Let’s cut to the chase, really. To me the whole story just reeks of Alchemy. Anyone could have smelled that coming from miles away… And well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I found out Prague did have it’s share of ‘Mad Hatters’. A lion’s share of these eccentric mystics, inhabited a 14th century baroque mansion; the Faust-residence. Even though Dr. Faust himself probably never visited Prague, the residence became infamous for its dwellers, alleged fanatics of the arts of Black Magic.

Prague Faust residence

So let’s get our timeline straightened out. In 1590, late 16th century indeed, the house was bought by Edward Kelley, an English alchemist. Intrigued by chemistry and physics, he startled the neighborhood tirelessly with his experiments; often explosions led to craters being blown in the mansion’s roof. I’ve got a gut-feeling he might have just been the real master of the puppet … another modern Prometheus, a worthy colleague and coeval of the occult Victor Frankenstein. Seven years after the purchase of the manor, at age 42, the reputed dr Kelley suffered an untimely death. Well I’ll be damned, did Edward perhaps share his fate with Victor? In the end, frightened of his own creation, panic-stricken by the horror show that proved him to be fatal.

FALL FROM GRACE

That being said, let’s put the focus back on the Golem, the blackguard that revolted against his master’s will. Much the same as the Frankenstein, he might very well have jumped out of the window, ‘losing sight of him in the darkness and distance’ (Mary Shelley; Frankenstein).

Very likely hypothesis as Prague has a rich history of defenestrations (Yes, what do you know! that’s actually a f*cking word!). Self-defenestration however didn’t occur until the 20th century. Our Golem might have been quite the pioneer here! That or it was just a convenient excuse used by the communist party to cover up an actual defenestration (as in execution). Walking the streets of Prague, I noticed that this bloody tradition stuck around, stuck down a rainpipe that is …

Prague Golem Rainpipe

Hells Bells

Would our dear Golem have survived such a fall from grace or did Mephisto finally catch up with him? No sooner did I think of this demon, no sooner did I see it’s tail … that cunning devil is ever still lingering in these streets. He who shuns the light, must seek out the shadows of the day. Yes, I just might have found it’s layer in the back street cellar dive drinking pub. A dark gloomy cellar on the outskirts of the town’s center, over the bridge by the old canal, where the shadows dance on the lighted wall, with a descrete token to it’s true nature : Hell’s Bell’s.

Prague Hells Bells Rockin Pub

Unfortunately it was shut, locked up. I should have known better than to come down here in broad daylight looking for a creature of the night. The Hell’s Bell’s Beer Pub on the other end of Prague did let me in. Again, no Golem, no Mephisto but I did get to enjoy a decent pint of devil’s brew.

Prague Hells Bells Beer Pub

It’s a Cryin’ Shame

Who will save the Prague minorities now? Any minority for that matter.
I say we summon Madonna and have her recite Kabballah incantations over a pile of mud. At least that ‘ll give her a chance to put herself to good use …

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