For the purposes of the present, inquiry it will be convenient to consider the Rituals under the three heads of Transcendental, Composite and Black, subject, as regards the first, to some specific qualifications which will appear in the second chapter, and subject, in respect of all, to the perfect understanding that these three are one. So far as may be possible, the antiquity of individual Rituals will be determined in the course of their examination, but as this inquiry is based, with a single exception of undeniable importance, upon the printed literature, because it is that only which has exercised a real influence, it may be well, as a conclusion to this introductory part, to give some information regarding magical processes which have remained in manuscript, and are to be found only, or can at least be consulted only, in the public libraries of Europe. Almost without exception, the source of their inspiration is the work mentioned in the preface, namely, The Key of Solomon, and they are consequently of later date. The Library of the Arsénal at Paris has a reputation for being especially rich in Magical MSS., but there is also a large collection in the British Museum which may be regarded as typical. There is nothing of earlier date or more importance among the French treasures, and, to determine the question of antiquity in a few words, there is nothing among our own that is much anterior to the beginning of the fourteenth century.
The numerical strength of the treatises, late and early combined, is in itself considerable, but, setting aside the codices made use of by the English editor of The Key of Solomon, the interest of which was exhausted long since by the appearance of that work, there are only three small classes or cycles to which an especial appeal attaches in connection with the present inquiry. The first may be termed the group of Honorius, comprising three MSS.; the second is that of the Sepher Raziel, of which there are two forms; the third includes the English codices of the Lemegeton. The chief MS. of the first group is also one of the most ancient treatises dealing with Magic in the library. This is Sloane 313, a Latin MS. on vellum, in a bad state of preservation. The close writing and abbreviations make it somewhat difficult to read. It is interesting, however, because it connects with the Grimoire of Honorius, one of the most historical and notable Rituals of Black Magic, being the work of some person bearing that name. It belongs to the fourteenth century and has no title or other determinate name, but it appears from the text that it was understood to be the Sworn Book of Honorius. The introduction or prologue to the work is obscurely worded in the initial pages, but it seems to account for the condemnation of magic by the prelates of the Church on the ground that they have been deceived by demons. The result is the convocation of all the “masters of Magic,” to the number of 811, all of whom seem to have come out of Naples, Athens and a place. entitled Tholetus. Among these a species of spokesman was chosen, whose name was Honorius, the son of Euclidus, Master of the Thebans. He was deputed to work for the rest, and he entered into counsel with an angel called Hochmel or Hocroel, (? Hochmaël), and thereafter wrote seven volumes of Magical Art, “giving the kernel to us and the shells to others.” From these books he seems afterwards to have extracted ninety-three chapters, containing a summary of the whole subject, and made them into a volume which “we term the sacred or sworn book.” In the meantime, the princes and prelates, having burned “certain fables or trifles,” concluded that they had completely destroyed the art, and were therefore pacified. The magicians, however, took an oath among themselves to preserve the masterpiece of Honorius in the most secret and careful manner, making three copies at the most, the possessor of any example being bound over to bury it before his decease, or otherwise insure its interment in his own grave, unless there were some trusty and worthy person to whom it could be transmitted. It is interesting to note that this is the Law of Transmission in respect of Alchemy. The important point about the MS. itself is that it fixes the source of the mendacious tradition which ascribes a Grimoire of Black Magic to a Pope of the name of Honorius, as will be seen at length later on. The Sworn Book is not, of course, the Grimoire, but the existence and reputed authorship of the one will enable us to understand the attribution of the other. Honorius the sorcerer was identified with Honorius the Pope, firstly by the confused mind of magical legend, and secondly by conscious imposture, much after the same manner that Raymond Lully, the “illuminated doctor” of Majorca, was identified with Lully the alchemist, by tradition at the inception, and not long afterwards by the help of forged treatises. The Sworn Book is in other respects remarkable, and has been unaccountably overlooked by writers on Ceremonial Magic; it may be taken to indicate that an association of magicians was most probably in corporate existence during or before the fourteenth century. While it is clearly of Christian origin, it derives from the supposed works of Solomon, and would appear to indicate that the Solomonic cycle was at that time only in course of formation, as also that the earliest elements approximate not to the Grand Clavicle, but to the Little Key, otherwise, the Lemegeton. As to the operations contained in the Sworn Book, they are those of White and Black Magic, undiscriminated, without, however, any trace of the conventional “dealing with the devil.” The MS. under notice need not, of course, be regarded as the original; as to this there is no means of knowing. The British Museum possesses also a later transcript, belonging to the sixteenth century, and a most valuable English translation, written on vellum in beautiful Gothic characters. It is referred to the fifteenth century.
The second group comprises two MSS., both in the Sloane collection, and both containing, among other treatises, the important and curious work attributed to Solomon under the title of Sepher Raziel. That numbered 3826 belongs to the sixteenth century. It is an English translation of a Latin original which in this form is unknown to myself; the first line of the original is usually given at the beginning of each section. It is divided into seven books, and purports to have been sent to Solomon by a prince of Babylon who was greater and more worshipful than all men of his time, his name being Sameton, while the two wise men who brought it were called Kamazan and Zazant. The Latin title of the treatise is said to be Angelus
[paragraph continues] Magnus Secreti Creatoris; it was the first book after Adam, was written in the language of Chaldea and afterwards was translated into Hebrew. It is a noticeable fact that in this work the first section is entitled Clavis, and if we may regard the Sepher Raziel as antedating the Claviculæ, it explains why a Key was attributed to Solomon. The Clavis in question is, however, concerned with the magical influences of the stars, “without which we can effect nothing.” The second book is called Ala; it treats of the virtues of stones, herbs and beasts. The third is Tractatus Thymiamalum, the use of which term connects it with the Sworn Book of Honorius; it treats of suffumigations. The fourth sets out the times of the year, day and night which are disposed to operation; the fifth embodies the laws regarding lustrations and abstinence; while the sixth, called Samaim, expounds the nature of the heavens, of the angels and of the operations of each. The seventh and last book is concerned with the virtues of names. A Latin version of the Sepher Raziel occurs in Sloane MS. 3853, ascribed to the same period. It differs from the former in several considerable respects, being also much shorter and full of rare magical symbols.
The MSS. of the third group are all in English, and all of late date.
Sloane 2731 is a very neat MS., begun on January 10, 1676, and containing the entire Lemegeton, or Lesser Key of Solomon, in English. Some account of this celebrated work, which has so unaccountably escaped publication, will be found in the third chapter of this part. Sloane 3648 is another manuscript of the Lemegeton, also in English, together with the Ars Notoria, a book of invocations and prayers attributed to Solomon, of which there are many examples extant in England and on the Continent. It is a work which connects with Magic without being itself Magical, and, in fact, stands in much the same relation to the Key or Clavicle as the Enchiridion of Pope Leo to the Isagoge of the Arbatel. Lastly, the same MS. contains the Magical Archidoxies of Paracelsus, but the version seems to be quite distinct from the treatise so entitled in the Geneva folio, containing the collected writings of the German adept. In either case, it is not a work of Ceremonial Magic, its title notwithstanding. Sloane 3805 is a quarto MS., chiefly alchemical and medical, comprising a translation of the forged epistles of Sendivogius, and towards the end the Lemegeton, started by the writer apparently with the intention of transcribing all the works attributed to Solomon under the heading of this angelic name. It breaks off, however, at the end of the offices of the thirteenth spirit belonging to the Infernal Hierarchy.
It should be added that the three groups contain materials which are common to all. The independent treatises which follow the Sepher Raziel in Sloane 3826 extract matter from the Sworn Book, while that entitled Liber Lunæ, concerning the intelligences of the mansions of the moon, the squares of the planets, their seals, rings and so forth–which, by the way, seems in this form unknown to modern critics–has given material to other and later collections.
The unprinted literature of Ceremonial Magic offers a considerable field to research, though even in the historical or bibliographical interest it is questionable whether it would repay the pains, unless research of all kinds whatsoever is to be regarded as its own reward. Among the miscellaneous MSS. in the British Museum, it is here only necessary to notice two, as they contain materials connected with the present design. Sloane 3884 includes a process in Necromancy–how to call the ghost of a dead body–the invocation of spirits into a crystal–the form for summoning spirits within the circle–and a method of exorcism in the Tuscan language,–all impudently attributed to the author of the Nullity of Magic–that is to say, Roger Bacon. In the second part of my present work a special chapter is devoted to Infernal Necromancy, and the MS. here mentioned will be useful for purposes of reference. Sloane 3850 is a MS. of the seventeenth century, which contains transcripts from the fourth book of Cornelius Agrippa and from the Heptameron of Peter de Abano in Latin. There is also a Good and Proved Experiment for evocation, which uses the Pater, Ave, Credo and Litany of the Saints as magical formulae. Finally, there are processes, mostly in Latin, but some in English, for the discovery of things lost, the recovery of things stolen, for the spirits of the dead who cannot rest in their graves, and for persons possessed by evil spirits. The treatise De Novem Candariis Salomonis, containing curious figures and sigils, deserves particular mention, as this again seems unknown to students. Its attribution notwithstanding, it is the work of a Catholic writer.