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The Grimoire

Grimoires

 

            In magick, a grimoire is any book that list demons, angels, or spirits and describes how to invoke them.

For example, the Goetia, by far the most popular “phonebook” of demons, is a mixed bag, containing an assortment of traditional gods from other cultures, demons, local deities, and dozens of spirits no one has any idea where they came from.

I will now introduce some of the major grimoires[1]:

 

The Goetia

 

            The Goetia[2] is part of a longer work called The Lesser Key of Solomon,[3] which is a collection of medieval grimoires attributed metaphorically to King Solomon.

The first section is the Ars Goetia.  This is the legendary Goetia, book of 72 daemons and their sigils.  A classic in every sense, it’s the standard whereby other grimoires are judged.  It was an early favorite ofCrowley’s and his version is still the most popular one to this day.

Other versions are available, including the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, originally an Appendix to Johann Weyer’s De praestigiis daemonum (1577).  This version is notable for being the earliest publication of the spirits named in the Goetia, however there are no sigils in the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum.  It is also is lacking four daemons: Vassago, Seere, Dantalion and Andromalius.  One daemon from Pseudomonarchia Daemonum is missing from the Goetia:  Pruflas.

The Mathers/Crowley version of the Goetia is subtitled “The Lesser Key of Solomon the King,” but this is erroneous as it only contains the first part of the Lesser Key of Solomon, the Goetia proper.  The actual Lesser Key of Solomon has four more parts:

            Theurgia-Goetia – This section contains conjurations for thirty-two spirits relating to the cardinal directions, some good and some evil.  Oddly enough, however, the history of this section isn’t about the occult at all.  The Theurgia-Goetia is actually based on a work by German abbot and occultist Johannes Trithemius called Steganographia.

            Steganographia[4]  is superficially about spirits and how to send messages over long distances.  In actuality, it is about how to hide messages so that no one except the intended recipient knows it’s there.  This book rightly lends its name to the entire field of steganography, but its use as a grimoire is dubious.

            Ars Paulina – A method for invoking the “Angels of the Hours of the Day and Night.”  Like Theurgia-Goetia, this is based on spirits from Steganographia.

            Ars Almadel –  Tells how to make the Almadel, which is a wax tablet with protective symbols drawn on it.  It teaches how to call upon the angels of the four “Altitudes.”

            Ars Nova – A medieval book of prayers and invocations.

There is also the Greater Key of Solomon.  While there are no spirits to invoke, there are “Holy Pentacles” for each of the seven traditional planets.  They can be useful in talismanic work, either as inspiration for your own designs or verbatim.

Figure 34: Mercury, Moon, and Mars talismans from the Greater Key of Solomon.

Other Grimoires

 

            Arbatel de magia veterum[1], or simply the Arbatel of Magic, is a Latin treatise on magick published in Switzerland (1575).   This book is the source for the Olympic Spirit we used in Chapter 4.

John Dee’s Enochian[2] magick is a solid system of working with angels and elemental spirits, but it has its own complex methodology and is outside the scope of this book.  A straightforward approach to Enochian is clearly outlined in the Enochian World of Aleister Crowley: Enochian Sex Magick byCrowley, Duquette, and Hyatt.  Using what’s given there, or any other good source on Enochian, will allow you to easily plug Enochian into the magickal framework you learn here.  Bits of the Enochian language are also part and parcel of many Golden Dawn and Thelemic rituals.

John Dee also has a small treatise floating around called The Little Book of Black Venus, which has a sigil for spirits that you can invoke using the methods in this book.  It seems to have been inspired by the Arbatel of Magic as the sigil designs are more than reminiscent of each other.  Another of John Dee’s grimoires, Heptarchia Mystica, was inspired by the Ars Paulina.  He may not have realized its underlying steganography at that point, however.

The Book of Abramelin[3] is one of the most famous and talked about books in magick.  It is also one of the least performed due to its long and arduous process of meeting your HGA, which is to be undertaken before any of the practical magick can be performed.[4]  This book contains dozens of magick “squares,” which purport to grant all the usual goodies of wealth, love and abundance that grimoires usually do.

Two other well known grimoires are The Black Pullet (18th century), which reads almost like a fairy tale, and Grimoirium Verum (18th century), full of generally absurd requirements and claims.  Many grimoires claim they are much older than they really are.  These two are no exception.

 

What about the Necronomicon?

While there are several versions of the Necronomicon now available, the most popular and infamous is the Necronomicon by Simon, first published in 1977.  However, the original “Necronomicon” is an invention of author H.P. Lovecraft, described in his stories as a forbidden and evil book scribed by Abdul Alhazred, also known as the “Mad Arab,” in Damascus, 730 A.D.

The Simon Necronomicon is rather notorious in the occult community.   It is clearly a hoax, but that hasn’t stopped people from using it, and claiming results.  It’s the also the book I’ve heard the most horror stories about. Most of those people were beginners plunging into their first grimoire so that might have something to do with it.  For whatever reason, this book tends to draw in newbies and then freak them out if they actually start to practice it.

Though Simon’s Necronomicon is based more on Sumerian mythology than H.P. Lovecraft, many practitioners mix it with the written works of H.P. Lovecraft.  This mishmash of ancient and sinister energies has created a psychologically resonant  system of a magick.

The main danger I see in working with this type of magick is taking on its overarching belief system, that is to say the mythos of H.P. Lovecraft.  All his stories end with madness, suicide, murder, or worse.  They are some of my favorite horror stories, but they generally aren’t the type of energy I’m looking to invoke into my life.

If you must use Necronomicon magick and are having problems “banishing” or getting back to reality, then use a powerful solar ritual (i.e. use Tiphareth or Path 30 with the Tree of Life Ritual given in Chapter 10).  However, think twice before taking on this belief system for your magick.  I don’t recommend H.P. Lovecraft-based rituals unless you are an advanced student of magick.


[1]  You can find full versions of most of these online if you simply Google their titles.

[2] Pronounced a variety of ways, none of which is particularly definitive in any authoritative sense, including go-AY-shuh, GO-eht-ee, and GO-shuh.

[3] Also called the The Lemegeton, or The Lesser Key of Solomon the King.

[4] c.1499; published Frankfurt, 1606.

 


[1] “Arbatel of the magic of the ancient.”

[2] This isn’t an actual grimoire like the others, but rather a system gleaned from the journals of John Dee and Edward Kelley.

[3] The translation by S. L. Mac Gregor Mathers is called The Book Of Sacred Magic Of Abramelin The Mage.

[4] This process is said to take a year and a half, though the popular Mather’s translation, considered less scholarly than the newer Dehn and Guth translation, says only six months.

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