- Handbooks of magic that provide instructions for rituals, the casting of spells, the procuring of treasure and love, the procuring of FAMILIARs, and the evocation and control of spirits, including DEMONs and ANGELs, to perform tasks. Grimoire is a French term for “grammar book.”Although any handbook of magic could be called a grimoire, the term usually applies to specific texts that claim the magical knowledge of King SOLOMON as their source. The material in grimoires is heavily derivative of Hebrew magical and mystical lore, involving the names, powers, and duties of spirits and the powerful names of God. Other principal sources are Hellenistic Greek and Egyptian magical texts and folk magic.Most of the principal grimoires were written in the 17th and 18th centuries but claimed to be much older. They were popular well into the 19th century. Printed on cheap paper, grimoires circulated primarily in France and Italy. They are still consulted, but modern magicians have written their own textbooks of magic.Grimoires give instructions for rituals to conjure and control spirits and cosmic forces for protection, wealth, luck, supernatural power, CURSEs on enemies, and so forth. They instruct the magician on what to wear, what tools to use, how to purify himself, and what prayers and incantations to recite at precise astrological times and various hours of the day and night, according to the ruling spirits. They give recipes for fumigations, descriptions of the creation of magic circles, magic triangles, pentacles, AMULETs, TALISMANs, seals and sigils, instructions on sacrifices, and ways to deal with unruly demons, including rites of EXORCISM.Some grimoires are devoted to theurgy, or white magic, while others concern goetia, or black magic. Some include both. The attainment of treasure and love and the ability to harm one’s enemies are prominent throughout the grimoires. Some were printed in red ink and were said to burn the eyes if gazed at too long. The following are the grimoires of significance:Key of SolomonThe most important grimoire is the Key of Solomon, also called the Greater Key of Solomon and the Clavicle of Solomon. This text is the source for most other grimoires. The book is attributed to the legendary King Solomon, who asked God for wisdom and commanded an army of demons (DJINN) to do his bidding and build great works. In the first century C.E., the Jewish historian Josephus mentioned a book of incantations for summoning and thwarting demons that was attributed to the authorship of Solomon. Josephus said that a Jew named Eleazar used it to cure cases of POSSESSION. Josephus may have been referring to the Key, but some historians believe it was the Testament of Solomon (discussed later) or, more likely, a different text altogether.The Key is mentioned in literature throughout the centuries, and over time it grew in size and content. So many versions of this grimoire were written that the original text is uncertain. A Greek version that dates to 1100– 1200 C.E. is part of the collection in the British Museum. From the 14th century on, Solomonic magical works took on increasing importance. Around 1350, Pope Innocent VI ordered that a grimoire called The Book of Solomon be burned; later, in 1559, the Inquisition condemned Solomon’s grimoire again as dangerous. The Key of Solomon was widely distributed in the 17th century. Hundreds of copies of the Key, in differing versions, still exist. Supposedly, the original manuscript was written in Hebrew, but no such text is known.LemegetonAnother grimoire attributed to Solomon is the Lemegeton, or Lesser Key of Solomon. The origin and meaning of Lemegeton are not known. The book also was known as Liber Spirituum (see later discussion) and Liber Officiorum. Claims were made that the Lemegeton was originally written in Chaldean and Hebrew, but these are doubtful. The earliest perfect examples of it are in French. The material probably is derived in part from the Testament of Solomon (discussed later) and also the apochryphal book of Enoch. Part of the Lemegeton was published in Latin by the demonologist JOHANN WEYER in 1563, entitled Pseudomonarchia Daemonum (Pseudo- monarchy of demons). REGINALD SCOT translated part of it into his Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584).The book is divided into four parts: Goetia, Theurgia, the Pauline Art, and the Almadel. The Almadel was mentioned in writing around 1500. Goetia is devoted to evil spirits. Theurgia (or Theurgia-Goetia, as it is also called) is devoted to both good and evil spirits and all aerial spirits. The Pauline Art concerns the spirits who govern the planets, the signs of the zodiac, and the hours of the day and night. The Almadel concerns 20 chief spirits who govern the four quarters and the 360 degrees of the zodiac. Goetia is the part published by Weyer. Waite speculated that Goetia is the original Lemegeton and the other three parts were unknown to Weyer and were added at a later time.The Lemegeton lists 72 FALLEN ANGELS, their titles, seals, duties, and powers, and the angels who can thwart them. The number 72 may have been inspired by the Schemhamphorae, 72 angels who bear the Names of God, which are given in Hebrew Scripture and are expressed at the end of every verse. The verses are used in invocation and in magic. The Schemhamphorae function as names of power. The 72 demons in the Lemegeton possess teaching skills for the sciences and art, as well as the ability to cause terrible diseases and disasters. Few have any healing ability.Testament of SolomonThe Testament of Solomon is a Greek text in the pseudepigrapha written between the first and third centuries C.E. It tells the story of how King Solomon built the Temple of Jerusalem by commanding demons. The text is rich in demonology, angelology, and lore about medicine, astrology, and magic. The author probably was familiar with the Babylonian Talmud. The text says that stellar bodies are demonic, wielding destructive power over the affairs of humanity. The 36 decans, or 10-degree portions of the zodiac, are called heavenly bodies and likewise are ruled by demons, who cause mental and physical illnesses. There are seven “world rulers,” who are equated with the vices of deception, strife, fate, distress, error, power, and “the worst,” each of whom is thwarted by a particular angel (with the exception of “the worst”).The testament provides a significant contribution to the legends of Solomon’s magical powers and the magical handbooks attributed to Solomon. It is not a grimoire of magical instruction, however.Grand GrimoireThis French grimoire was probably authored in the 17th or 18th century. The earliest edition of it bears no date or place of publication. One version of it claims to date to 1522. Its full title is The Grand Grimoire, with the Powerful Clavicle of Solomon and of Black Magic; or the Infernal Devices of the Great Agrippa for the Discovery of all Hidden Treasures and the Subjugation of every Denomination of Spirits, together with an Abridgment of all the Magical Arts. The editor, Venitiana del Rabina, said he translated the work from the writings of Solomon himself, which came into his possession.The Grand Grimoire is a text of black magic. It has the same chief demons as the Grimorium Verum and nearly the same subordinate officers but describes different duties for them. The book is especially significant for its feature of a specific PACT between the magician and LUCIFUGE ROFOCALE, the prime minister of LUCIFER, who makes his only appearance in all literature in this grimoire alone. However, his last name, Rofocale, may be an anagram of FOCALOR, a demon named in the Lemegeton. The book also includes instructions for necromancy. Grimorium Verum Drawn from the Greater Key of Solomon and written in French, this book probably was written in the mid-18th century. Claims were made that it was translated from Hebrew by a Dominican Jesuit named Plaingiere and was published by “Alibeck the Egyptian” in 1517. Its full title is Grimorium Verum, or the Most Approved Keys of Solomon the Hebrew Rabbin, wherein the Most Hidden Secrets, both Natural and Supernatural, are immediately exhibited, but it is necessary that the Demons should be contented on their part.The Grimorium Verum nearly copies the Key of Solomon in instructions for preparation of the magician and his tools but provides different instructions for the preparation of the virgin parchment and for the evocation and dismissal of spirits. There is an entirely different hierarchy of demons, who number 30 and who report to three leaders, Lucifer, BEELZUBUB, and ASTAROTH, who have among them six deputy chiefs.The material also shows influences from Lemegeton. It includes the “Admirable Secrets” of the pseudo-Albertus Magnus, or Little Albert (see later), which appear in other later grimoires. The Grimorium Verum covers the “Genuine Sanctum Regnum,” or the true method of making pacts.Fourth BookAuthorship is attributed to the occultist Henry Cornelius Agrippa, but the book, supposedly the fourth volume of Agrippa’s monumental three-volume Occult Philosophy, was written by an unknown author. It is also known as the Liber Spirituum and is in the opening of the Lemegeton. The Fourth Book appeared after the death of Agrippa in 1535 and rehashes in an informal way much of the material in Occult Philosophy. Weyer, a student of Agrippa, rejected it as a forgery, as did other occultists.As the Lemegeton does, the Fourth Book gives instructions for communicating with evil spirits. It covers the names of spirits associated with the planets and their characters, sigils, and pentacles. There are rituals for evoking both good and evil spirits and for practicing necromancy. Waite called the Fourth Book “muddled” and said its lack of precision rendered it ineffective as a manual of magic.Grimoire of HonoriusAlso called the Constitution of Honorius, this text may have been authored in the 16th century but was first published in Rome in 1629. It gained wide circulation during the 17th century. The authorship is attributed to Pope Honorius III (r. 1216–27), who is credited with rites of exorcism. The book shows influences from the Lemegeton and claims to be based on the practical Kabbalah, but this connection is tenuous. Rather, it is the only grimoire to introduce significant Christian elements, which earned it the reputation of the blackest of black magic texts. The grimoire is cast as a papal bull in which the pope decrees that the authorities of the church, from cardinals to secular clerks, should have the power of invoking and commanding spirits of all sorts. This power had been vested with the papal office as the successor to St. Peter.The rituals in Honorius combine kabbalistic elements such as the 72 sacred names of God and Christian elements such as confessions, litanies, masses of the Holy Ghost and angels, the office of the dead, the GOSPEL OF JOHN, and various prayers with gruesome sacrifices of animals. The effect is more like a BLACK MASS than anything sacred.The 1670 edition of Honorius includes a rite of exorcism for both humans and animals. The 1800 edition calls for using holy water in human exorcisms. In animal possessions, it prescribes the use of salt exorcized with BLOOD drawn from a bewitched animal.As a magical text, it is viewed as having little foundation and probably was written for commercial appeal. It is not to be confused with The Sworn Book of Honorius, credited to the authorship of Honorius of Thebes, master magician. Waite said that the grimoire “must be avoided, were it necessary at the present day to warn any one against practices to which no one is likely to resort, which belong to the foolish mysteries of old exploded doctrines, and are interesting assuredly, but only as curiosities of the past.”Arbatel of MagicThe Arbatel of Magic is a slim text written in Latin and published in Basel, Switzerland, in 1575. It was translated into German in 1686. The authorship is not known, but it is speculated the person may have been Italian, because of several obscure references to Italian history. The book refers to “Theophrastic Magic,” indicating influences of Paracelsus. It has no connection to the Solomonic writings and does not even mention Solomon; rather, it has strong Christian elements. Waite considered it representative of “transcendental magic.” The Arbatel purports to be a nine-volume work of instructions on the magical arts, but only the first volume, or tome, is extant. It is uncertain whether the other eight tomes were ever written; perhaps, the anonymous author intended to write them but failed to follow through. The first tome is called Isagoge, which means “essential or fundamental instruction.”Isagoge comprises Seven Septenaries of aphorisms of a moral and spiritual nature that cite the sources of occult wisdom: God, angels, learned men, nature (stones, herbs, and so forth), apostate spirits, ministers of punishment in HELL (comparable to the avenging classical gods), and the spirits of the elements. The wisdom obtainable from these sources ranges from the low magic of finding treasures to alchemical transmutations to mystical knowledge of God. Meditation, love of God, and living in accordance with the virtues are emphasized as the best means for practicing the magical arts.Theosophia PneumaticaAlso known as The Little Keys of Solomon, this grimoire was published in 1686 in German. It possibly was included in the German edition of the Arbatel of Magic, a work it follows closely. Of anonymous authorship, the Theosophia Pneumatica makes no claims to ancient origins. Like the Arbatel, it is Christian in orientation and holds that the exaltation of prayer is the end of the Mystery. The Hebrew term Talmud—derived from the verb for “to learn”—is used to describe the aspiring magician. The author also was knowledgeable about alchemy and included references to it.The only section of the Theosophia Pneumatica that differs significantly from the Arbatel is the appendix, which contains strong Christian elements and terminology used by the Swiss alchemist Paracelsus. It affirms that all things are threefold in nature after the model of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Man is threefold, having a body, soul, and rational spirit. The body is of the earth. The soul is of the elements derived through the stars, is the seat of understanding, and is the genius for arts and sciences. The rational spirit is from God and is the medium through which divine inspiration enters the physical body. The soul and rational spirit are joined in marriage by God to reside in the body. Regeneration is achieved when the rational spirit overcomes the soul. There are two kinds of death: deterioration of the body and destruction of the soul via poisoned stellar influences. In either case, the rational spirit departs; it may also depart at the will of God. It is not possible to cure certain diseases by which God has chosen to afflict humankind. The unicorn, Quintessence, azoth, and philosopher’s stone are all useless. All other diseases can be cured with natural magic and alchemy.HeptameronAlso called Magical Elements, this book is attributed to Peter of Abano, an Italian physician who died in 1316 after being condemned to death by the Inquisition. Abano is not believed to be the author. The Heptameron probably was written in the 16th century and may have been intended as a supplement to the Fourth Book.The grimoire is a composite work of white and black magic that deals with finding treasure, procuring love, detecting secrets, opening locks, fomenting hatred and evil thoughts, and so on. It is divided into two parts: the evocation of the Spirits of the Air, who are demons, and a set of angelic evocations for each day of the week.Little AlbertAlso titled Marvelous Secrets of the Natural and Cabalistic Magic of Little Albert, this text was published in 1722. Material from it appear in various grimoires.The Enchiridion of Pope LeoThis book is technically not a grimoire: It offers no instructions for magical rituals but is a collection of charms turned into prayers, accompanied by mysterious figures supposedly taken from rare old manuscripts.According to the story of the book’s alleged origins, Pope Leo III (r. 795–816) gave the Emperor of the West Charlemagne a collection of prayers after his coronation in Rome in 800. The collection had special properties: Whoever carried it about on his person with the proper attitude—respect for the Scripture—and recited it daily in the honor of God would have divine protection for his entire life. He would never be defeated by his enemies and would escape all dangers without harm. The text claims that Charlemagne, who enjoyed great fortune, wrote a letter of thanks in his own hand to Pope Leo III, which is still preserved in the Vatican Library.This collection of prayers was published as the Enchiridion for the first time in Rome in 1523. A second edition is said to have been issued in 1606 and a final edition in 1660. The book was probably composed in the 17th century and given the legend to lend it authenticity. Charlemagne may not have been literate, and no letters of his are extant.The Enchiridion’s charms are dressed up as prayers, but few are spiritual in nature; they are instead concerned with material things such as acquiring wealth, happiness, and advantage and protecting ones self against all kinds of dangers, misfortunes, natural disasters, and evils. The text denies any association with magic, but in the fashion of magic, it describes a ritual for its proper use. The book must be kept clean in a bag of new leather. It must be carried on the person, and at least one page of it must be read with devotion every day. Specific pages can be read for various needs. To read from the book, one must face east and kneel, for this, claims the Enchiridion, is what Charlemagne did.Pseudomonarchia DaemonumMore a text about demons and demonology than a grimoire, this was written around 1583 by Johann Weyer. It lists 68 of the 72 demons found in the Lemegeton but does not give their seals or rituals.Alberti Parvi Lucii Liber de Mirabilibus Naturae ArcanisAttributed falsely to the authorship of St. Albertus Magnus, this grimoire was published in Lyons, France, with the kabbalistic date of 6516. It gives instructions for making philters, interpreting dreams, discovering treasure, making a hand of glory (a black magic charm), making a ring that confers invisibility, and performing other magical acts.The following texts were written in the 18th and 19th centuries and are often called grimoires:The Book of Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the MageAuthorship is attributed to Abra-Melin (also spelled Abramelin), a Jewish kabbalistic mage of Wurzburg, Germany, who supposedly wrote the grimoire for his son in 1458. The manuscript, written in French in the 18th century, claims to be a translation of the original Hebrew manuscript. The book was a major influence in the 19th-century occult revival led by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. ALEISTER CROWLEY borrowed from it for his own rituals to master demons.The book comprises three books, all derivative of the Key of Solomon. According to lore, Abra-Melin said he learned his magical knowledge from angels, who told him how to conjure and tame demons into personal servants and workers and how to raise storms. He said that all things in the world were created by demons, who worked under the direction of angels, and that each individual had an angel and a demon as familiar spirits. The basis for his system of magic, he said, may be found in the Kabbalah.The magical system is based on the power of numbers and sacred names and involves the construction of numerous magical squares for such purposes as invisibility, flying, commanding spirits, necromancy, shape shifting, and scores of other feats. Rituals for conjuring spirits, creating magic squares, and making seals and sigils are elaborate and must be followed exactly in accordance with astrological observances.True Black MagicAlso called The Secrets of Secrets, this black magic grimoire purportedly was written in the 1600s by a magician named Toscraec, who claimed that it was based on a centuries-old manuscript written in an unknown language. Toscraec said he was only able to translate the manuscript with the help of an angel. It probably was written in the 18th century.True Black Magic is a goetic adaptation of the Key of Solomon. In the book, claims are made that the manuscript was found in the tomb of Solomon, and it was translated from the Hebrew in 1750 by the magus IroeGrego. It includes 45 talismans, their properties and uses, and “all magical characters known unto this day.” The grimoire quotes Solomon as saying that divine love must precede the acquisition of magical wisdom.The Black PulletAccording to lore, this grimoire was published in Egypt in 1740, but it was probably authored in the late 18th century in Rome or in France. The Black Pullet is one of the few grimoires that do not claim to be manuscripts of antiquity. It does not link itself to Solomonic magic but shows influences of the spurious Fourth Book. It places particular emphasis on 20 magic talismans and 20 corresponding magic rings, plus two talismans of a magic circle and a magic rod or wand. It disavows all connections to black magic. It has appeared in altered versions as Treasure of the Old Man of the Pyramids and Black Screech Owl. The 22 talismans have been linked to the 22 trumps of the Tarot.The Black Pullet tells a colorful story about itself and its alleged origins. The original—and ambitious— French title of the grimoire was The Black Pullet, or the Hen with the Golden Eggs, comprising the Science of Magic Talismans and Rings, the Art of Necromancy and of the Kabbalah, for the Conjuration of Aerial and Infernal Spirits, of Sylphs, Undines, and Gnomes, for the acquisition of the Secret Sciences, for the Discovery of Treasures, for obtaining power to command all beings, and to unmask all Sciences and Bewitchments, The whole following the Doctrines of Socrates, Pythagorus [sic], Zoroaster, Son of the Grand Aromasis, and other philosophers whose works in the MS. escaped the conflagration of the Library of Ptolemy, Translated from the language of the Magi and that of the Hieroglyphs by the Doctors Mizzaboula-Jabamia, Danhuzerus, Nehmahmiah, Judahim, and Eliaeb, Rendered into French by A.J.S.D.R.L.G.F.The Black Pullet claims it is the narrative of an unnamed man who was a member of Napoleon’s armed forces sent to Egypt. With several companions, he went to the pyramids outside Cairo, where they all stopped for lunch. They were attacked by Arabs, and all but the author were killed. He was left for dead. When he regained consciousness, he assumed he would soon be dead because he had been abandoned in the desert and delivered a farewell to the setting Sun.Suddenly, a stone rolled back in the Great Pyramid, and a man walked out. The soldier could tell by his turban that he was a Turk. As luck would have it, the soldier knew the Turkish language and could communicate. The Turk revived him with liquor and took him inside the pyramid, which was revealed to be the magical home of the mysterious man.The soldier was astonished to find vast halls, endless galleries, subterranean chambers, and piles of treasures, all ministered by spirits. There were blazing lamps and magic suppers. A genius, or FAMILIAR, named Odous was the special attendant of the Turk. The soldier was also shown The Black Pullet, a text that was like a version of Aladdin and the magic lamp, but with an inner meaning conferred by the demon ASTAROTH. The magical power was created with talismans embroidered on silk and rings made of bronzed steel.The Turk said he was the only heir to this magic, which was based on Egyptian hieroglyphs. He told the soldier he was near death. He possessed a magic talisman that enabled him to be fluent in 22 languages. The Turk conveyed to the soldier all the secrets of the book, and then immediately he died on his sofa. The soldier fell into a swoon.When he recovered, the soldier left the pyramid, accompanied by Odous, who was now under his command, and taking with him The Black Pullet, the ashes of the Turk, and piles of treasures. He sailed for Marseilles and settled in Provence, where he spent the rest of his days experimenting with the secrets of the book. He published the book and created a magic talisman that would affect anyone who pirated it with ears six inches longer than Midas’.The talismans of The Black Pullet are, in more modern times, embroidered onto silk but are best engraved on silver, gold, or metals resembling them. They are sometimes used alone rather than in conjunction with the rings. Once armed with the talismans and rings, the spirits can be commanded. The evocation for Odous is “Thomatos, Benesser, Flianter,” which first summons 37 spirits. Address them by saying “Litan, Izer, Osnas,” and they will bow down before you. Say “Nanther” as each one does. The command “Soutram Urbarsinens” will cause the spirits to transport you through the air wherever you wish to go, and they will return you home upon the command “Rabiam.”A major section of The Black Pullet tells how to procure a GOLD-FINDING HEN.Red DragonPublished in 1822 but reported to date back to 1522, this is nearly identical to the Grand Grimoire. Later editions of Red Dragon incorporated the instructions for the Gold-Finding Hen from The Black Pullet.Transcendental MagicThis book comprises the occultist Eliphas Levi’s own system of magic and was published in 1896. The occultist A. E. Waite called it a grimoire of “absolute science.” Levi based his system on the Key of Solomon, adding his own views based upon his experiences in magic and alchemy.The Book of Black Magic and of PactsWritten in 1898 by Waite, the book discusses other grimoires and provides a “Complete Grimoire of Black Magic.” Waite draws upon and compares different grimoires in discussing rituals and the fundamentals of magic.FURTHER READING:- Butler, E. M. Ritual Magic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1949.- Cavendish, Richard. The Black Arts. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1967.- Grillot de Givry, Emile. Witchcraft, Magic and Alchemy. 1931. Reprint, New York: Dover, 1971.- Levi, Eliphas. Transcendental Magic. 1896. Reprint, York Beach, Me.: Samuel Weiser, 2001.- Mathers, S. L. MacGregor. The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage. Wellingborough, England: Aquarian Press, 1976.- Thompson, C. J. S. The Mysteries and Secrets of Magic. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1993.- Waite, Arthur Edward. The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts. 1899. Reprint, York Beach, Me.: Samuel Weiser, 1972.- Wright, Elbee. The Book of Magical Talismans/The Black Pullet. Minneapolis: Marlar, 1984.
Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology. Rosemary Ellen Guiley. 2009.