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Purportedly an ancient magical text, written by King Solomon of Jerusalem.

Also known as The Lesser Key of Solomon and The Book of Evil Spirits, or Goetia the Lemegeton is a tome of demonic conjuration. It details the powers of 72 different specific "Spirits of Goetia" along with spells of summoning, constraint, departure, and command. There are also over two hundred talisman diagrams and a Qabbalistic chart, as well.

There is a known out of print version of the Lemegeton translated into English in 1903 by the widely known Rosicrucian and Hermeticist, Arthur Edward Waite. It was published by de Laurence, Scott and Company in 1916. This is the oldest copy I can find any reference to, and Waite himself states in the introduction that this is the first time the data has been available to "students of Talismanic Magic", but whether this implies that he wrote the text himself, or that there were only a few copies surviving at the time is subject to question.

There is also a paperback translation by MacGregor Mathers which is still in print as of the date of this writing. Given Mathers' dubious history, and the fact that I have not compared this version to any older translations, so I have no idea how it might compare to the 1916 printing.

Not to be confused with The Greater Key of Solomon, or simply, The Key of Solomon which is the second of the Keys and the subject of another node.

The actual origin of the Lemegeton is unknown.

[Note - This description refers to Mathers' version, rather than the Waite version, of the text.]

The Goetia: The Lesser Key of Solomon the King, Book one of the Lemegeton, supposedly contains the first of five writings by the legendary king Solomon, son of David. A number of ancient sources, including both the Bible and Josephus' Antiquities, claim Solomon as a wiseman and as a magician. His connection with the Goetia, however, lacks such external confirmation. Most likely an unknown author penned it in the early Renaissance, naming it for its content (the 72 spirits Solomon supposedly summoned) rather than intending to claim Solomon as the true author.

The currently available version of this text claims S.L. MacGregor Mathers, of Golden Dawn fame, as its "translator". This attribution somewhat overstates Mathers' actual contribution (which applies to Waite's claim as well, considering they had access to the same source materials), as he merely modernized a text already written (though possibly previously translated) in an archaic English.

The heart of this book, the Shemhamphorash, describes the attributes, sigils, and means of evoking the 72 spirits known to and controlled by Solomon. Many entries also include an illustration of the spirit they describe.

A quick list of the 72 spirits:
BAEL, AGARES, VASSAGO, SAMIGINA or GAMIGIN, MARBAS, VALEFOR, AMON, BARBATOS, PAIMON, BUER, GUSION, SITRI, BELETH, LERAJE or LERAIKHA, ELIGOS, ZEPAR, BOTIS, BATHIN, SALLOS, PURSON, MARAX, IPOS, AIM, NABERIUS, GLASYA-LABOLAS, BUNE or BIME, RONOVE, BERITH, ASTAROTH, FORNEUS, FORAS, ASMODAY, GAAP, FURFUR, MARCHOSIAS, STOLAS or STOLOS, PHENEX or PHEYNIX, HALPHAS or MALTHUS, MALPHAS, RAUM, FOCALOR, VEPAR, SABNOCK, SHAX, VINE, BIFRONS, UVALL or VUAL or VOVAL, HAAGENTI, CROCELL, FURCAS, BALAM, ALLOCES, CAMIO or CAIM, MURMUR or MURMUS, OROBAS, GREMORY or GAMORI, OSE or VOSO, AMY or AVNAS, ORIAX or ORIAS, VAPULA or NAPHULA, ZAGAN, VOLAC or VALAK or VALU or UALAC, ANDRAS, HAURES or HAURAS or HAVRES or FLAUROS, ANDREALPHUS, CIMEJES or CIMEIES or KIMARIS, AMDUSIAS or AMDUKIAS, BELIAL, DECARABIA, SEERE or SEAR or SEIR, DANTALION, ANDROMALIUS
To the well-read student of the mythology, many of the above will sound familiar. Many, such as Asmoday, Belial, and Paimon, come straight from the standard lists of demons. Some, such as Amon, stood as deities in their own right from nearly-forgotten religions. Still others, such as the Pheynix, we recognize as "mere" mythological beasts.

Overall, while The Goetia most likely will not help the reader accomplish its stated goal (the evocation of the above-mentioned spirits for the purpose of carrying out one's requests), it contains a valuable summary of the implements, spirits, and means used in the art popularly known as "demonology".

Lemegeton Clavicula Salomonis
Lemegeton, or, the Lesser Key of Solomon

A renowned grimoire, concerned with the evocation of spirits and their constrainment within sigils; the manuscripts dates not to the age of Solomon, but between 1641 and 1712-3. However, since some of the books are mentioned together in Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, the collection as we know it probably existed in this form since at least 1585.

The grimiore itself consists of five books: Goetia, Theurgia Goetia, Ars Paulina, Ars Almadel, and Ars Notoria:

  • Goetia: aka Ars Goetia, this deals with the summoning of the seventy-two evil spirits--demonic princes--into their appropriate seals in order to have them do the work of the magician. Comparisons have been made between this and Johann Wier's 1563 work De Praestigiis Daemonum, though the Goetia has far more elaborate rituals and uses seals. The word goetia is derived from a Greek word meaning "howling"; a goes is a wailer, and by extention, a charlatan magician (thanks goes to hapax for this info).

    The most important part of the Ars Goetia is the Shemhamphorash, a table of the 72 demons and their attributes.

  • Theurgia Goetia: Unlike the Goetia, the spirits named in the Theurgia Goetia are not all evil; some are said to be good spirits. Again, like the Goetia they are summoned using elaborate rituals and seals, though it is emphasized that these spirits are tied to the points of the compass:
    These are by nature good & evil, that is the one part is good & the other part is Evil, they are governed by their Princes, & each Prince hath his abode in the points of the Compass, as is showed in the following figure, therefore when you have a desire to call any of the Princes or any of their servants, you are to direct your self towards that point of the Compass the King or Prince has his mansion or place of Abode, & you cannot well err in your operations, note every Prince is to have his Conjuration, yet all of one form, excepting the name and place of the Spirit for in that they must change & differ, also the seals of the Spirits are to be changed accordingly.

    The word theurgia is derived from Greek: theourgiā "rites of god"

  • Ars Paulina: This work claims to be a magic art revealed to Saint Paul when he ascended into the third heaven, and was then delivered at Corinth. Of course, this is rubbish; the text as we have it is probably based on a medieval or Renaissance original. The book itself is concerned with things like which spirits rule over the planetary hours.

  • Ars Almadel: This work, falsely attributed to Solomon, focuses on the calling of angels for the imparting of wisdom. The Almadel itself is a wax tablet upon which various sigils are drawn in order to invoke the proper angel.

    The word Almadel itself looks like a corruption of Arabic, but more than that I cannot say.

  • Ars Nova or Ars Notoria: the earliest manuscript for the Ars Notoria is dated to the thirteenth century. It is largely a collection of prayers with magic phrases thrown in. Some have speculated that the Liber Juratus, also from the thirteenth century, is based on this text.

    Unfortunately, when the text was first translated in 1657 by Robert Turner (and then appended to the Lemegeton), the images from the manuscript were omitted. This created a rather confusing text, and did the work a great disservice. Luckily, the drawings are reproduced at the following website: http://www.esotericarchives.com/solomon/or14759.htm



MANUSCRIPTS:

It is found in several manuscripts in the British Museum, the most notable being Sloane 2731 (dated January 18, 1687), Sloane 3825, Sloane 3648, and Harlian 6483 (1712-13).

British Library MS. Sloane 2731. 32 folios. Oblong folio. A marginal note states "January ye 18: 1686 began to wrote this Book."

British Library MS. Sloane 3825.

  • f.1-99.1: "Janua Magicae reserata".
  • f.100-179.2: "Clavicula Salomonis or the Little Key of Salomon the King". no date.

British Library MS. Harley 6483. "Liber Malorum Spiritum seu Goetia." a note in the upper left corner of f.1 reads "Thirty Sixth sheet Dr Rudd", linking it with Harl. 6482, which ends with the note "Thirty Fifth sheet of Dr Rudd" in the margin, dating it to sometime in the generation after John Dee.

  • f2r-112 "Lemegeton secretum Secretorum Goetia"
  • f113-200 "Theurgia Goetia"
  • f201-264 "The Art Pauline of Solomon"
  • f265-279 "Art Almadel of Solomon, ye King"
  • f280 "The Notary Art"

Dr. Rudd's manuscript, however, apparently attempts to force the newer Enochian system onto an older system of magic.

TRANSLATIONS:

1657, Robert Turner made a translation directly from the Latin manuscripts; this remains the most complete edition to my knowledge.

1903, S.L. MacGregor-Mathers and Aleister Crowley edited an edition of the Goetia, with a bit of their own Enochian magick thrown in. This wasn't a translation, so much as a modernization of Turner's text.

1913, A.E. Waite included a translation of selections from the Goetia in his Book of Ceremonial Magic--typical of his style, Waite is skeptical of the magic, but gives it to the student nonetheless. Again, like the MacGregor-Mathers edition, this isn't a translation, but simply modernized Turner's text.

1994, Nelson White produced what is said to be a photocopy of the British Museum manuscripts; if Amazon.com is to be any judge, folks were not pleased with this cheap-looking edition.

1999, Mitch Henson edited a new edition. This and the edition by Joseph H. Peterson (no date, reprinted 2001) are held to be the best editions of the text.

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