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This article focuses on the spell book owned by Cora.
For her second spell book, see Cora's Second Spell Book.

Do you remember giving this highly dangerous, volatile book, that belonged to our one-time, highly-dangerous, volatile mother?

Zelena to Regina src

Cora's Spell Book is a magical item featured on ABC's Once Upon a Time. It first appears in the second episode of the second season.

Cora's spell book is based on the queen's spell books from the Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.


Before First Curse
Unhappily engaged to King Leopold at her mother Cora's insistence, Regina complains openly to her father, Henry, about it. She feels angry all the time and fears turning out like Cora. Regina asks how her mother became so controlling, and Henry mentions something about a book a man gave her in the past that started it all. That night, Regina sneaks into her mother's sleeping chambers to steal the book. On the balcony, she accidentally recites a summoning spell by saying the name "Rumplestiltskin", and he appears to offer her help in getting rid of her mother. Unwilling to use magic to harm someone, Regina refuses until Rumplestiltskin shows her a looking glass. He instructs her to simply give Cora a little push into it and then her mother will be gone forever. On the day of the wedding, Cora catches onto Regina's plan, but her daughter surprisingly utilizes magic to push her into the looking glass. Free at last, Regina attempts to leave on horseback. Along the way, she meets Rumplestiltskin again and returns the spell book to him. However, he's only interested in knowing what it felt like for her to use magic. At first, Regina defends her actions, stating she loves Cora very much, until admitting using magic felt so good. She has reasonable fears of becoming as controlling as her mother, but Rumplestiltskin promises that is entirely up to her. From then on, he takes her in as a magic protege. ("We Are Both")

After First Curse
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In present day Storybrooke after the curse is broken, Regina's magic does not return to its full power. After Henry is taken away by David, she realizes only magic can help her regain her son. Heading into the pawnshop, Regina fumbles around for her mother's old spell book when Mr. Gold coolly stops her. However, when she threatens to expose him to the townspeople as the creator of the Dark Curse, he hands the book to her. As Regina leaves, he remarks that she is starting to bear a strong resemblance to Cora. Opening the book, she inhales a vapor from the pages, which restores all her magic. Regina proceeds to terrorize the residents at town hall until Henry agrees to go home with her. Though her son tries to sneak out of the house, she uses magic to force him to stay. Henry is still angry at her for making everyone, while during the curse, think he was crazy with his fairytale theories. She promises to make it up by teaching him magic, but Henry refuses since he doesn't want to turn out like her. Shocked, Regina recalls his words once mirrored her own when she had fears of becoming like Cora. When David shows up to rescue Henry, she doesn't put up a fight. Regina realizes she cannot make her son stay by force and promises to work towards being worthy of his love. After they are gone, she prepares to burn the book, but later sets it on a shelf instead. ("We Are Both")

In a race against time, Emma and Mary Margaret are stuck in the Enchanted Forest and must find squid ink that will help them to defeat Cora, who is also scheming for a way to reach Storybrooke. One of their companions, Aurora, finds a parchment with Emma's name written all over it. They become trapped when Cora manipulates Aurora via her heart to do so. While contemplating their inability to get out, Mary Margaret recalls, in her younger days, watching Cora use magic from her book, and realizes the parchment can be used in the same way. She blows at the parchment as the dry ink on it turns into a powdery dust that crumbles the jail cell bars. ("Queen of Hearts")

Regina finds out about David and Mary Margaret growing magic beans to take everyone, except her, back to the Enchanted Forest. She steals one and destroys the rest. Then, Regina visits Henry to show him the means she has to take both herself and him away from Storybrooke to start a new life in the Enchanted Forest. He is keen on the plan until hearing further detail about the "fail-safe" Regina has, which will erase Storybrooke and all the people inhabiting the town once they leave. Regina reasons they can never live as a family unless everyone else who is standing in their way is gone for good, and also because Henry can see the good in her, and once loved her. Henry attests he can never love someone who kills other people and promises to warn them about her. However, Regina takes out her mother's spell book to cast a memory impairment spell on Henry. Coming out of the spell's effects, as if seeing her for the first time today, he asks what she is doing here. Regina says she missed him, and directs Henry to show her the bird feeders he is working on. ("The Evil Queen")

During Second Curse
To face up against a formidable nemesis, Zelena, Emma accepts magic training under Regina's direction. They meet up in the vault where Regina begins the lesson by showing Emma a page from her mother Cora's old spell book. Emma is dismayed to see the page's words are in another language and suggests Regina simply use any techniques Rumplestiltskin once taught her. This leads Regina to put Emma on a collapsing bridge and force her to channel magic to save herself. ("The Jolly Roger")

After Second Curse
When her lover Robin Hood's wife Marian falls under a freezing curse cast by the Snow Queen, Regina repeatedly reads the book, trying to figure out how to save the woman. ("The Apprentice", "Breaking Glass", "Family Business")

After Fourth Curse

As Zelena's now eighteen-year-old daughter Robin becomes interested in learning magic, Regina secretly gives her the spell book to let her experiment before departing for the New Enchanted Forest. Robin and two of her witch friends gather in the vault and use a spell incantation from the book in an attempt to summon Mother Nature. The spell is interrupted when one of Robin's friends has to leave, to which Robin decides to continue the spell on her own, but Zelena arrives to put a stop to it. When questioned by her mother, Robin admits Regina gave her the book and insists her aunt, unlike Zelena, is "cool" and not so uptight about magic. Zelena takes the book away, grounds Robin, and forces her to also relinquish her cell phone as punishment. Robin then storms off to go home alone, but once outside, she finds herself whisked away to Mother Nature. ("Secret Garden")

After discovering Robin is missing, Zelena learns from the spell book that Mother Nature, known by the name Gothel, is harmless in the Land Without Magic because she doesn't exist in that realm, but she does have power in the New Enchanted Forest. She then goes through a portal to seek out Regina and confront her about her giving Robin the spell book. ("Secret Garden")

Types of Spells

  • Barrier Spells - Manipulates plants (either actual plants or representations such as drawings) to grab and restrain someone by their arms and legs in a similar fashion to tentacles. ("We Are Both")
  • Plant healing spell ("We Are Both")
  • Memory spell - Erases and wipes out a designated period of time in a person's memory. The person affected by the spell will have no recollection nor any sense of having forgotten the memories. ("The Evil Queen")
  • Shielding spell
  • Summoning spell for Mother Nature ("Secret Garden")


On-Screen Notes

  • The heart on the cover is a reference to Cora's identity as the Queen of Hearts. ("We Are Both" et al.)
  • As Regina looks through the book to restore her magical powers, there are alchemical symbols printed on the pages[1]—Fusion, Flowing Melting, Composition 2, Fixation, Filtration 1, part of Lutation Sealing 2, Extraction of Dryness, Filtration 2, Lutation Sealing 1, Fire of Circulation 2, Grades of Fire, Fire of Circulation 1, Dry, and Distillation 2.[2] ("We Are Both")
  • The book contains[1] a

    Diagram from Dialogi Contra Iudaeos

    diagram of the letters of the Tetragrammaton, taken from a 12th-century manuscript of the work Dialogi Contra Iudaeos ("Dialogues against the Jews") (ca. 1109 A.D.) by the 12th century Spanish physician, writer and polemicist Petrus Alphonsi, a convert to Christianity from Judaism. Tetragrammaton is the four Hebrew letters יהוה‎, commonly transliterated into Latin letters as YHWH. It is one of the names of God used in the Hebrew Bible. Alphonsi's diagram shows the three persons of the Christian Trinity assigned to the three possible consecutive two-letter sequences of the Tetragrammaton YHWH, or "IEVE" as it's transcribed into the Latin language in the diagram. These three sequences (IE, EV, and VE) are in three circular nodes, connected to each other by three lines making a triangle. In the center, supported by fanciful animals, is a scroll with the complete Tetragrammaton. ("We Are Both")
  • When young Regina summons Rumplestiltskin, the Sigillum Dei, a late Middle Ages magical diagram, is pictured on the page with Rumplestiltskin's name on it.[3] The Sigillum Dei ("seal of God") was an amulet which allowed the initiated magician to have power over all creatures except Archangels. However, it was usually only reserved for those who can achieve the blessed vision of God and angels; rather ironic for a spell book belonging to the Dark One. ("We Are Both")
    • The page also shows the astrological symbols for Aries (♈︎), Gemini (♊︎) and Leo (♌︎).
      • This page[3] also contains stanza 5 and stanza 6 from the Latin poem, "Estuans Intrinsecus" (also known as the "Confession") by the 12th century Latin poet Archipoeta. The poem is number 191 in Carmina Burana ("Songs from Beuern"), a medieval manuscript of poems and dramatic texts. In this satirical poem, the author confesses his love for drinking, gambling and women. The stanzas printed in the book, read thus:[4]

Via lata gradior more iuventutis
implico me vitiis, immemor virtutis,
voluptatis avidus magis quam salutis,
mortuus in anima curam gero cutis.

Presul discretissime, veniam te precor:
morte bona morior, dulci nece necor,
meum pectus sauciat puellarum decor,
et quas tactu nequeo, saltem corde moechor

Which translates as:[5]
"I tread the primrose part, as young men do, enmeshing myself in vice, forgetful of virtue; keener on pleasure than salvation, dead in the soul, I take care of my skin."
"Most discerning prelate, I ask your pardon: I die the good death, I perish in sweet destruction; my heart is wounded by feminine charm, and those I cannot touch, I lust at least in the heart."
  • The illustration of the Sigillum Dey also appears in one of the books in the Wish Realm version of the Dark Castle when Henry is doing research.[6] ("Homecoming")

    The Seal of Botis

    The Seal of Buer

    The Seal of Amon

The Seal of Marbas

  • Several pages contain slightly altered versions of demonic seals from the Lesser Key of Solomon, a spell book on demonology published in the 17th century:
    • The Seal of Botis,[1] a demon described in the book as a Great President and Earl of Hell, commanding sixty legions of demons. ("We Are Both")
    • The Seal of Buer.[7] Buer is a demon that appears in the sixteenth century grimoire Pseudomonarchia Daemonum (Hierarchy of Demons) and its derivatives, where he is described as a Great President of Hell, having fifty legions of demons under his command. ("Going Home", "The Jolly Roger")
    • The Seal of Amon.[7] Amon is a demon and the Grand Marquis of Hell who governs forty infernal legions. ("Going Home", "The Jolly Roger")
    • The seal of Marbas,[8] the Great President of Hell governing thirty-six legions of demons. ("Sisters")
  • One page[9] shows a Transmutation Circle,[10] which is believed to help an alchemist focus their energy to change one item into another (such as lead into gold).[11] ("Going Home")
    • The opposite page[9] contains the last stanzas (17 - 19) from the "Confession" (note that the spellbook's rendering of the these two stanzas has a few misspellings, and some words are repeated; also, the words written in red are not actually part of the poem, and appear to be gibberish):[4]

Iam virtutes diligo, vitiis irascor,
renovatus animo spiritu renascor,
quasi modo genitus novo lacte pascor,
ne sit meum amplius vanitatis vas cor.

Electe Coloniae, parce poenitenti,
fac misericordiam veniam petenti
et da poenitentiam culpam confitenti!
feram quicquid iusseris animo libenti.

Parcit enim subditis leo rex ferarum
et est erga subditos immemor irarum;
et vos idem facite, principes terrarum!
quod caret dulcedine nimis est amarum.

Which translates as:
"Already I value virtues, I am angry at vices, Renewed in soul I am born again in spirit, Like a new-born, on fresh milk I feed, So that my heart should no longer be a vessel of vanity."[12]
"Oh, Elect of Cologne, spare the repentant, Show mercy, to one seeking pardon; And give penance to one confessing guilt! I will do whatever you order with willing soul."[13]
"Lo, the lion, king of beasts spares his subjects; And is toward the subjects oblivious of anger, And do the same ye, the rulers of lands, What lacks sweetness (softness) is too bitter."[13]
  • A page with roots of incantations[7] shows the Tree of Life from Kabbalah. This symbol represents, as a series of divine emanations, God's creation, the nature of revealed divinity, the human soul, and the spiritual path of ascent by man. ("Going Home", "The Jolly Roger")
    • Even though Regina says that the characters on this page are Elvish, they are actually symbols for alchemical processes – Abstraction, Putrefication, Digestion 1, Purification 1, Pulverise 1, Purification 2, Pulverise 2, Reverberation 2, Coagulation 1 and Reverberation 1.[2]
    • The same illustration appears in Jafar's genie wisdom book in the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland episode "Heart of the Matter".[14]
    • The opposite page contains the astrological symbols for Aries (♈︎),[7] Taurus (♉︎)[7] and Gemini (♊︎)[15]—the first three astrological signs in the Zodiac. A couple of alchemical symbols (Fire of Circulation 3 and Fire of Rotation)[2] can also be glimpsed.[7] ("Going Home", "The Jolly Roger")
      • This page[7] also contains stanza 1 and stanza 3 from from the "Confession". The original text reads thus (note that the book's rendering of stanza 1 has a few alternate spellings, and the first two words of stanza 3 have been omitted):[4]

Aestuans intrinsecusira vehementi
in amaritudineloquor mee menti:
factus de materialevis elementi
folio sum similis de quo ludunt venti.
Feror ego veluti sine nauta navis,
ut per vias aerisvaga fertur avis.
non me tenent vincula, non me tenet clavis.
quero mei similes et adiungor pravis.

Which translates as:
"Burning (boiling) inwardly with vehement indignation in bitterness will I say to my soul: Made of the stuff of a light element, I am similar to a leaf with which winds play."[16]
"I am borne like a ship without a sailor, like a wandering bird through airy ways. I am confined by neither chain nor key, I seek out my likes and keep wicked company."[5]
  • Several pages[1][7][9] contain symbols from the reconstruction[17] of the mysterious Emerald Tablet, which is one of the pillars of Western alchemy. It has been translated by many people over the centuries, and is said to be inscribed with the secrets of the universe. One interpretation suggests that the text describes seven stages of alchemical transformation—calcination, dissolution, separation, conjunction, fermentation, distillation and coagulation.[18] ("We Are Both", "Going Home", "The Jolly Roger")
  • As Regina is looking through the book to find a cure for "Marian's" affliction,[19] and when Zelena opens the spell book in Tiana's palace,[20] we see a palmistry illustration of a hand, with astrological symbols for the mounts on the palm. Mounts are the bumps of flesh on the palm, which are named after planets, and which play a very important role during a palmistry reading. Five astrological symbols can be seen on the illustration:[21] ("Breaking Glass", "Secret Garden")
    • Venus (♀), the mount by the thumb. Below that, the word "Vita", Latin for "life", is printed.
    • Jupiter (♃) is erroneously printed on the mound between the thumb and the index finger, which is where Lower Mars should be.
    • Mars (♂) is erroneously printed on the mound beneath the index finger, which is actually Jupiter's mound.
    • Saturn (♄), the mount under the index finger.
    • Apollo, the sun (☉), the mount under the ring finger.
    • Note that the mount of Mercury (☿), which is placed beneath the baby finger, is obscured.
    • Next to the hand, there are micro-excerpts from Ars grammatica, a survey of Latin grammar by Aelius Donatus, a fourth century Roman grammarian and teacher of rhetoric. The excerpts in the spell book are from Donatus' first Ars grammatica, known as Ars Minor, which is a brief overview of the eight parts of speech. ("Secret Garden")
      • The paragraph at the top of the page consists of selected words from the section De praepositione,[22] "about preposition". The paragraph from the spell book reads thus: "Vbi locum significat, magis [three or four illegible words] ablativo ubi onem alicuius facimus accusativo casui ervit". The following is the excerpt in its entirety, with the selected words (and pieces of words) in the spell book set in bold:
Vbi locum significat, magis accusativo casui servit quam ablativo; ubi mentionem alicuius facimus, ablativo tantum, ut "multa super Priamo rogitans". In quam vim habet? Etiam tum accusativo casui servit, cum significat contra, ut in adulterum, in desertorem.[22]
  • The paragraph at the bottom begins with "Legendus legenda legendum participia venientia a verbo passivo temporisum futuri generis" (the rest of the text is illegible), which is from the section De participio,[22] "about participle". Note that the original excerpt from Ars Minor says "temporis", not "temporisum".
  • Additional text from De praepositione can be glimpsed on the opposite page. The following is the excerpt in its entirety, with the parts that can be seen in the book (most of the text is obscured by Zelena or illegible) set in bold:
Quo modo? Dicimus enim ad patrem, apud villam, ante
aedes, adversum inimicos, cis Renum, citra
forum, circum uicinos, circa templum,
contra hostem, erga propinquos, extra terminos,
inter naues, intra moenia infra tectum, iuxta macellum,
ob augurium, pone tribunal, per parietem, prope fenestram,
secundum fores, post tergum, trans ripam, ultra fines,
praeter officium, propter rem, supra caelum, usque Oceanum,
penes arbitros. Da praepositiones casus ablativi A ab abs
cum coram clam de e ex pro prae palam sine absque tenus. quo
modo? Dicimus enim a domo, ab homine, abs
quolibet, cum exercitu, coram testibus, clam
custodibus, de foro, e iure, ex
praefectura, pro clientibus, prae timore,
palam omnibus, sine labore, absque iniuria,
tenus pube, quod nos dicimus pube tenus.
Da utriusque casus praepositiones. In sub super subter.

Production Notes


Note: "Archive" denotes archive footage.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 File:202Book2.png
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Symbols for Alchemical Processes. The Alchemy Web Site. Retrieved on April 16, 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 File:202Rumplestiltskin.png
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Archpoet (The Oxford Book of Medieval Latin Verse, F.J.E. Raby, ed., 1959). Western Michigan University. Retrieved on April 16, 2019.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Paradoxes of Conscience in the High Middle Ages: Abelard, Heloise and the Archpoet, Peter Godman, Cambridge University Press, 2009, pp. 174 – 176. Facsimile by Google Books.
  6. File:721ReadyToWrite.png
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 File:311MuchLonger.png
  8. File:519NotNearlyAs.png
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 File:311MuchLonger2.png
  10. Image:Draw a Transmutation Circle Intro.jpg. wikiHow. Retrieved on April 16, 2019.
  11. Buckland, Della R (September 29, 2017). What Is a Transmutation Circle?. eHow.
  12. Poetics of Expressiveness: A Theory and Applications, Yu Scheglov and A. Zholkovsky, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1987, p. 322. Facsimile by Google Books.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Poetics of Expressiveness: A Theory and Applications, Yu Scheglov and A. Zholkovsky, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1987, p. 321. Facsimile by Google Books.
  14. File:W111AndRightNow.png
  15. File:317ImNeverGonna.png
  16. Poetics of Expressiveness: A Theory and Applications, Yu Scheglov and A. Zholkovsky, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1987, p. 316. Facsimile by Google Books.
  17. Photograph of the tablet
  18. The Legendary Emerald Tablet. Ancient Origins (August 10, 2014).
  19. File:405ISuppose.png
  20. File:711ThisSpell.png
  21. Palmistry Mounts. Psychic Library. Retrieved on April 16, 2019.
    Mounts of Mars. Psychic Library. Retrieved on April 16, 2019.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 Donatus, de partibus orationis ars minor. Georgetown University. Retrieved on April 16, 2019.
  23. Once Upon a Time - Behind the Magic - Page 42. London: Titan Books, October 2013
  24. File:505RumplestiltskinStorybook.png
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