The Lesser Key of Solomon

This digital edition by Joseph H. Peterson, Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved. Last updated: Oct 22, 2021 JHP.

Note: A considerably enlarged printed edition of the Lesser Key of Solomon is available:




LEMEGETON
CLAVICULA SALOMONIS
or
THE LESSER KEY OF SOLOMON

Detailing the ceremonial art of commanding spirits both good and evil





Edited by Joseph H. Peterson,
March 27, 1999
Copyright © 1999. Last updated Oct 13, 2021.

Contents

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank the Trustees of the British Museum for allowing me to study the manuscripts firsthand, and for their help in copying the manuscripts onto microfilm.

Introduction

The Lemegeton is a popular handbook of ritual magic known from the 17th century1 in more or less the same form as I will present it. Much of it was drawn verbatim or otherwise integrated from material found in earlier manuscripts, some of which dates back as early as the 14th century or earlier2.

Heinrich Agrippa, in his De incertitudine et vanitate scientiarum declamatio invectiva (1536) has a chapter on De goetia & necromantia, followed by a chapter De theurgia; the latter mentions "Eius itaque scholae sunt, ars almadel, ars notoria, ars paulina, ars reuelationum, & eiusmodi superstitionum plura" in JF's 1651 translation: "Of his" (i.e. Porphyry's) "School therefore is the Art Almadel, the Notary art, the Pauline Art, the art of Revelations, and many such like superstitions."

Likewise Reginald Scot, in his lists of magical texts3, mentions Ars Paulina, Ars Almadel, and Ars Notoria in the same breath. This may have suggested the scheme for the current collection.

Scot also includes a text closely related to the Goetia4. This was in fact one of its primary sources as we shall see.

1. The date 1641 occurs in the text, so the present form must be later.

2. To this period has been dated an important text of the Solomonic literature, Liber Iuratus, or The Sworn Book of Honorius, which has important connections with our present work.

3. Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584, Book 16, chap. 31 and chap. 42.

4. Op. cit. chapter 2 consists of a translation of J. Wier's Pseudomonarchia Daemonum. See below.

The name Lemegeton seems to have been suggested and taken from a passage in Ars Notoria (section 20b):

Therefore it is called, The Notary Art, because in certain brief Notes, it teacheth and comprehendeth the knowledge of all Arts: for so Solomon also saith in his Treatise Lemegeton,* that is, in his Treatise of Spiritual and Secret Experiments.

* JV's edition p. 40: Lemogeton. Véronèse notes: "Tracté non identifié, peut-être fictif."

The alternate title, "The Lesser Key of Solomon" does not in fact occur in the manuscripts, which instead read "The little key of Solomon" (see below). A.E. Waite, in his 1898 Book of Black Magic and of Pacts does use the terms "greater Key" and "Lesser Key" to distinguish between the Clavicula Salomonis and Lemegeton, so he may have been the first one to coin it.

The primary manuscripts used for this edition include:

Harl. 6483 Dated 1712-3. Title reads "Liber malorum Spirituum, seu Goetia." Fol. 2r has the title "Lemegeton" with subtitle "Secretum Secretorum." This is one of the latest ms., and contains innovations and much additional material ("Dr. Rudd"). A very handsome edition has been published by Stephen Skinner and David Rankine as The Goetia of Dr. Rudd.
Sloane Ms. 78 or 663 (fols. 125r-126v) 17th ce. Titled Lemegeton, Clavicula Solomonis Regis; / or, / The little Key of Solomon the King, wch containeth all the names, Orders & Offices of all spirits, that ever he had any converse with, with the seals or characters belonging to each spirit.... This ms. only contains the introduction and the first part of Book I — through the first part of the entry on the tenth spirit — Buer.
Sloane Ms. 2731 Jan 18, 1687. Titled Lemegeton, Clauicula Salomonis: -- Or -- The Little Key of Solomon. It is important because it has itself been compiled from multiple versions (including apparently Sloane 3648). The main prototype used by Sl. 2731 must have been closely-related to Sl. 3825 (possibly a common ancestor), but was in some cases more accurate. (E.g. "towns" in description of Halphas in agreement with Weyer/Scot, against "towers" in all other mss.; "Sabnack" in agreement with Weyer/Scot, against other mss.; "Admeasurements" in description of Andrealphus in agreement with Scot, against other mss.) This ms. omits all of book 5. It was also one specifically mentioned by A. E. Waite in his Book of Ceremonial Magic, who incorrectly declared it to be complete.
Sloane Ms. 3825 17th ce. Titled Lemegeton Clavicula Salomonis: Rex: The little Key of Salomon the King. This is a more complete and internally consistent text. It is also interesting in that it contains a shorter version of The Notary Art to which has been added the remaining portions as found in Robert Turner's 1657 translation. It doesn't seem to have been noticed by Waite.
Sloane Ms. 3648 Circa 1655+ Titled Lemegeton: or CLAVICVLA: SALOMONIS: REX: or the Little Key of Solomon The King. One of the manuscripts used by the compiler of Sloane 2731. The language is slightly more modernized than Sl. 3825, (e.g. "obeys" instead of "obeyeth", and "sees" instead of "seeth"). It almost always uses "the" instead of ye seen in Sl. 3825, but there are exceptions, such as spirit 48 (Haagenti); this is additional evidence that the compiler's source ms. used the ye form. This ms. has errors not found in Sl. 3825, such as "Gusion" instead of "Gusoin"; "ruling" instead of "riding"; "charges" instead of "chains"; "charms" instead of "chains"; Eligos instead of Eligor.

The text is generally shorter than Sl.3825; The inclusion of “called” in the description of Bifrons/Bifrous in Sl. 3648 perhaps indicates it deleted most of them in order to eliminate unnecessary verbiage.

This ms. was also mentioned by Waite, who said simply that it was "another manuscript."

A transcription (without the Notary Art) was published by Kevin Wilby as Lemegetton — a Medieval Manual of Solomonic Magic, Dyfed, Wales, 1985.

BL Sloane 3805 ff. 111-114 1685. Contains only a portion of Book 1, through the description of the 13th spirit.
Wellcome MS 3203. Completed Mar 1, 1828. Henry Dawson Lea’s copy of Hockley’s copy. Titled: Five treatises upon Magic. Part 4 contains the Lemegeton material and is titled: Two Books of Solomon the King called Goetia and Theurgia Goetia, with the Names, Offices, Circles and Seals of 336 Spirits. The table of contents list it as Lemegeton Seu Clavicula Salomonis Regis / The Little Key of Solomon the King. "... transcribed my ms. copy from a Ms. in 2 vols. (about the date of 1580-1700) very precisely written I finished it 1 March 1828. "In four parts" (i.e. omits Ars Notoria). The text commences with the title The Key of Solomon which contains all the names, orders, offices of all the spirits....

The spirits appear in a different sequence, e.g. "Sinodai or Asmoday" is listed after Beleth, followed by Gaap, Furfur, Marchosias, and Stolas. Some mistakes found in Wellcome 3203, such as Parmon instead of Paimon, and Focator instead of Focalor, also appear in NLW ms. 11117B.

Wellcome MS 4665. Ca. 1835. Frederick Hockley’s copy. Fragm. Only contains part of Book 1. Titled: Magia de profundis, seu Clavicula Solomonis regis Lib. IV. The Key of Solomon the King. Or a compleat system of profound magical science. Fred. Hockley scrip[sit]. The text commences with the title The Key of Solomon / Which contains all the Names Orders & offices of all the spirits.... "In four parts" (i.e. omits Ars Notoria).
NLW MS 11117B. 1814-1859. Title reads simply Goetia, and commences with "Bael a King in the East who maketh invisible..."

John Harries' Book of Incantations, etc. 1814-1859. Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru – The National Library of Wales. Contains excerpts from Books 1 and 2. Has many mistakes in common with Wellcome 3203 (see above).

Other related manuscripts include:
Douce Ms. 116London: Bodleian. Second half of 17th ce. A collection which can be considered a proto-Lemegeton. Includes demon sigils, hexagram, pentagram, excerpts from Heptameron and many other magic texts.
Sloane MS. 3824Longobardus. A collection which can be considered a proto-Lemegeton

Printed editions used:

C: Mathers (1854-1918)/Crowley Crowley, Aleister, and S.L. Mathers. The Book of the Goetia or, The Lesser Key of Solomon the King: From Numerous Manuscripts in Hebrew, Latin, French and English. Foyers, Inverness: Society for the Propagation of Religious Truth, 1904. There is also an edition published by Chicago: The Occult Pub. House, "1903", but the date must be mistaken or fictitious, as the 1904 is certainly the first edition supervised by Crowley.

This edition includes many fanciful alternate spellings of the spirit names, which are not supported by any manuscripts that I can tell. Most of the footnotes too seem to derive from the editor's imagination rather than any manuscript tradition.

Shah Shah, Idries. The Secret Lore of Magic. New York, NY: Citadel Press, Inc., 1970, pp 156-211, 299-308. (First published in 1957.)

Spirits are rearranged alphabetically.

Fasciculus Rerum Geomanticarum (Plut 89 Sup 38) (dated 1401-1410) has a large collection of demon sigils, but they seem to be unrelated.

I have followed Sloane 3825 for this edition except for the Ars Notoria. For the latter the manuscripts are clearly dependent on Robert Turner's translation; I have therefore used his 1657 edition as the primary source. Variants from other manuscripts are noted in square brackets []. Also in square brackets are the folio numbers from Sl. 3825. I have resisted the temptation to modernise the language.

The parts of the Lemegeton are as follows:

Goetia

The first book, Goetia, corresponds closely with the catalog of demons published by Johahn Weyer (or Johann Wierus) as Pseudomonarchia daemonum in his 1563 De Praestigiis Daemonum. In Weyer's text there are no demonic seals, and the demons are invoked by a simple conjuration, not the elaborate ritual found in the Lemegeton. Reginald Scot included an English translation of Weyer's text, which does in fact seem to be the ancestor of this part of the Lemegeton. This can be established because of the unique errors and spellings introduced in that translation.

The most striking difference between Weyer’s text and the Goetia is the order of spirits. I see no explanation for the difference; perhaps the pages of an ancestor manuscript got dislodged and scrambled. This actually seems to be the case with Hockley's ms. of the Goetia (Although a much more recent manuscript: Wellcome 4665), where each spirit is described on a separate leaf, and many pages were later dislocated. The copy which Henry Dawson Lea made (Wellcome 3203) subsequently partially renumbered them, instead of trying to restore the original order. John Harries's copy (NLW ms. 11117B) seems to have followed Lea's.

Comparison of Goetia* vs. Weyer:

GOETIAWellcome 3203WEYER
1. Bael 1. = 1. Baël [Baell]
2. Agares 2. = 2. =
3. Vassago 3. Vas - Sago
4. Gamigin 5. = 46. Gamygyn
5. Marbas 4. = 3. =, Barbas
6. Valefar 6. Valefor 14. =, Malaphar
7. Amon7. =5. =, Aamon
8. Barbatos8. =6. =
9. Paimon9. Parmon22 =
10. Buer10. =7. =
11. Gusoin11. =8. Gusoyn [Gusoin]
12. Sitri12. =21. Sytry / Bitru
13. Beleth13. =20. Byleth [Bileth]
14. Leraye13. Loray [Leraie], Oray
15. Eligor12. =, Abigor
16. Zepar19. =
17. Botis9. =, Otis
18. Bathin10. Bathym [Bathin], Marthim [Mathim]
19. Saleos64. Zaleos [Saleos]
20. Purson11. Pursan [Purson], Curson
21. Morax15. =, Foraii
22. Ipos16. Ipes [Ipos], Ayperos [Ayporos]
23. Aim 57. Aym, Haborym
24. Naberius 17. Naberus [Naberius], Cerberus
25. Glasya Labolas 18. =, Caacrinolaas, Caassimolar
26. Bune 23 =
27. Ronove 25 =
28. Berith 26 =
29. Astaroth 27 =
30. Forneus 24 =
31. Foras 28 = / Forcas
32. Asmoday(13b.) Sinodai or Asmoday 35. Sidonay, Asmoday
33. Gaap 14. = 35. =, Tap
34. Furtur/*Furfur 15. Furfur 29. Furfur
35. Marchosias16. = 30. Marchocias
36. Stolas 17. = 68. =
37. Phoenix 18. Phenix 67. =
38. Halphas 19. = 42. =
39. Malphas 20. = 31. =
40. Raum 21. = 41. =, Raym
41. Focalor 22. Focator 43. =
42. Vepar 23. = 32. =, Separ
43. Sabnach 24. Sabnack 33. Sabnac, Salmac
44. Shax 25. = 36. Chax, Scox
45. Vine 26. = 44. =
46. Bifrons 27. = 45. =
47. Vual 28. Ruall 65. Wal [Vuall]
48. Haagenti 29. = 66. =
49. Procel 30. Procell 37. Pucel [Prucel]
50. Furcas 31. = 38. =
51. Balam 32. = 62. =
52. Alloces 33. Allocer 63. Alocer [Allocer]
53. Caim 34. Cam 40. Caym
54. Murmur 35. = 39. =
55. Orobas 36. Obus 57. =
56. Gemory 37. = 50. Gomory
57. Ose 38. = 55. Oze [Ose]
58. Amy 39. = 60. =
59. Orias 40. = 48. =
60. Vapula 41. = 58. =
61. Zagan 42. = 47. Zagan
62. Valac 43. = 49. Volac [Valac]
63. Andras 44. = 53. =
64. Flauros 45. Hauros 61. =
65. Andrealphus 46. = 54. Androalphus [Andrealphus]
66. Cimeies 47. Cimerjes 59. Cimeries
67. Amduscias 48. = 52. =
68. Belial 49. = 23. =
69. Decarabia 51. = 51. =, Carabia
70. Seere 50. Seer
71. Dantalion 52. Dantation
72. Andromalius 53. =

Notes:

  • "=" means that the name of the spirit in Weyer is spelled the same as in the Goetia.
  • The fourth spirit in Weyer, Pruflas/Bufas is not found in the Goetia.
  • The third spirit in the Goetia, Vassago, is not found in Weyer.
  • The last three spirits in the Goetia, Seere, Dantalion, and Andromalius, are not found in Weyer.

Theurgia Goetia

This text has close parallels with book one of Trithemius' Steganographia. Although the abundant spirit seals are not found in Trithemius, those few that can be found match exactly. For example, these four seals are found in Steg. I. chapter xi, dealing with Usiel and his subordinates:

Compare these with the following seals found in the Lemegeton in the section dealing with the eleventh spirit, Usiel, and his subordinates (Adan, Ansoel, Magni and Abariel):

It should be noted that Trithemius' conjurations are actually his examples of hidden writing ('steganography'), and do not correspond with the conjurations found in Theugia Goetia. Steganographia was written in 1500, but was not published until 1608. It was, however, widely circulated in manuscript form.

Ars Paulina

The spirits in Part 1 of this book coincide exactly with those found in Trithemius' Steganographia, Book 2. According to Thorndike5, the "The Pauline art," was purported to have been discovered by the Apostle Paul after he had been snatched up to the third heaven, and delivered by him at Corinth. Robert Turner mentions a sixteenth-century manuscript in the Bibliothèque Nationale6. Although this text is based on earlier versions, repeated mention of the year 1641 and guns, shows a late redaction. The "table of practice" has similarities with Dee's "holy table". In the former the seven seals have the characters of the seven planets, which also occur in the Magical Calendar (1614.)

5. Magic and Experimental Science, chapter xlix, 1923, pp. 279 ff.

6. BnN 7170A. See Robert Turner, Elizabethan Magic, 1989. pp. 140-1.

Saturn
Jupiter
Mars
Sun
Venus
Mercury
Moon

The descriptions of the seals for each sign of the Zodiac are evidently abstracted from Paracelsus, The Second Treatise of Celestial Medicines, cf. Archidoxes of Magic translated by Robert Turner, 1656, pp. 136 ff.

Ars Almadel

In 1508, Trithemius mentioned a long list of books on magic, including the book "Almadel attributed to King Solomon"7 Ars Almadel is also found in the Hebrew manuscript of the Key of Solomon, ed. Gollancz, Sepher Maphteah Shelomoh, 1914, fol 20b. Turner mentions a fifteenth-century manuscript in Florence.8

7. See critical edition of the Latin versions, Véronèse, Julien. L'Almandal et l'Almadel latins au Moyen Âge: introduction et éditions critiques. Firenze: SISMEL edizioni del Galluzzo, 2012. See also I. P. Couliano, Eros and Magic in the Renaissance, Chicago, 1987, p. 167.

8. Ibid. Florence II-iii-24.


Ars Notoria

The Ars Notoria is a Medieval Grimoire of the 'Solomonic Cycle'. Many Latin manuscripts are extant, the oldest are dated thirteenth century, and possibly earlier. Like Liber Juratus (also thirteenth century), the text centers around an even older collection of orations or prayers which are interspersed with magical words. The orations in Ars Notoria and those in Liber Juratus are closely related. The orations in both works are said to have mystical properties which can impart communion with God and instant knowledge of divine and human arts and sciences.

Older manuscripts of the Ars Notoria contain exquisite drawings, the "figures" mentioned in the text.9 Their omission adds greatly to the confusion of the text.

9. See below. For other examples of the illustrations, and an excellent discussion of the Ars Notoria, see the article by Michael Camille in Claire Fanger, Conjuring Spirits, Texts and Traditions of Medieval Ritual Magic, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998, pp. 110 ff.

Not all manuscripts of the Lemegeton include the Ars Notoria, their contents listing only four books. Those that do are entirely dependant on Robert Turner's 1657 edition, which is evidently his own translation from the Latin.


[Preface from Harl. 6483]

The sixth Sheet of Dr. Rudd

Liber malorum Spirituum
seu Goetia

This Book contains all the names, orders, and offices of all the spirits Salomon ever conversed with. The seals and characters belonging to each spirit, and the manner of calling them forth to visible appearance.

Some of these spirits are in Enoch's Tables which I have explained, but omitted their seals and characters, how they may be known; but in this book they are at large set forth.

The definition of Magic10

10. Quoted (without citation) from Michael Maier, Laws of the Fraternity of the Rosie Crosse (Themis Aurea), N. Brooke: London, 1656, pp. 90–92.

Magic is the highest most absolute and divine knowledge of natural philosophy advanced in its works and wonderful operations by a right understanding of the inward and occult vertue of things, so that true agents being applied to proper patients, strange and admirable effects will thereby be produced; whence magicians are profound and diligent searchers into nature, they because of their skill know how to anticipate an effect which to the vulgar shall seem a miracle.

Origen saith that the magical art doth not contain anything subsisting, but although it should yet that must not be evil or subject to contempt or scorn; and doth distinguish the natural magic from that which is diabolical.

Tyaneus only exercised the natural magic by which he performed wonderful things.

Philo Hebreus saith that true magic by which we come to the secret works of nature is so far from being contemptible that the greatest monarchs and kings have studied it. Nay amongst the Persians none might reign unless he was skillfull in this great art.

This noble science often degenerates, and from Natural becomes Diabolical, from true philosophy turns to Negromancy which is wholly to be charged upon its followers who, abusing or not being capable of that high and mystical knowledge do immediately hearken to the temptations of Sathan, and are misled by him into the study of the black art. Hence it is that Magick lyes under disgrace, and they who seeke after it are vulgarly esteemed Sorcerers. And the fraternity of the RosyCrucians thought it not fit to stile themselves Magicians but philosophers, they are [+not] ignorant Empiricks, but learned and experienced physicians whose remedies are not only lawfull but divine.

[Sloane 3825:]

[100r]

LEMEGETON CLAVICULA SALOMONIS: REX:

The little Key of Salomon the King which containeth all the names, orders and offices of all the spirits that ever he hadd any converse with, with the seales or Characters belongeing to Each spirit, and the manner of calling them forth to [visible] appearance, in 5 Parts, called Books viz - - - - -:

  • The first part, is a Book of evill spirits, called Goetia, shewing how he bound up those spirits and used them in severall things, wherby he obtained great fame.
  • The second part is a Booke of [aerial] spirits, partly good and partly evill, wch is called Theurgia Goetia being all spirits of the ayre.
  • The Third part is [a book] of spirits governing ye Planetary houres, and wt spirits belong to every degree of the signes and planets in ye signes, and is called Ars Paulina.
  • The fourth part of this Booke is called Ars Almadel Solomonis, conteyning 20 cheife spirits wch governe the four Altitudes or the 360 degrees of the world & signes [zodiac] &c.
    These twoo last orders of spirits is of good, and are called the true Theurgia, and is to be sought affter by divine seeking &c.
  • The fifth part is a Booke of orations and prayers that wise Salomon used upon the alter in the Temple which is called Artem Novam [sic. (Ars Nova)] The wch was revealed to Salomon by the holy angel of God called Michael, and he also recieved [sic] many breef Notes written by the fingar of God wch was delivered to him by ye said Angell, with Thunder claps, without wc Notes Salomon hadd never obtained to his great knowledge, for by them in short time he knew all arts and siences both good and badd which from these Notes [this book] is [also] called Ars Notoria.

In this Booke is contained the whole art of Salomon although there be many other Bookes that is said to be his yet none is to be compared with this, for this containeth them all, although [100v] they be titled with severall other names, as the Booke Helisoe11 wch is the very same as this last [book] is, wch called, Artem Novam & Ars Notaria &c..

11. Ars Notoria refers to Helisoe. S2: “Helisol” is an error. Mathers/Crowley also reads “Helisol.” In JV's critical edition, Glossed version B, it reads "liber Ydea Salomonis". This he identifies as De quattuor annulis. Version A mss. give the name variously — Eniclyssoe, Eliosse (Vemeliose cor. marg.), Gromeliosse, mirabilis, Yndeneliosse.

These Bookes were first found in the Chaldean & hebrew tongues at Hierusalem, by a Jewish Rabbi, & by him put into the greeke Language, & from thence into ye Latine, as it is said &c.


APPENDIX - Other examples of some of the drawings

Sigil for Baal, from Harl. 6483.

Sigil for Agares, from Harl. 6483.

Sigil for Vasago, from Harl. 6483.

Magical circle and triangle, from Sloane 3648.

Hexagram to be worn as a Lamin, from the Hebrew manuscript of the Clavicula Salomonis, (Sepher Mafteah Shelomoh):, fol. 38a.

Gollancz, fol. 38a.Or. 14759

Pentagram, from Harl. 6483.

The Magic Ring, from Sloane 2731.

Brass vessel, from Sloane 2731:

Sigil for Carmasiel, from Harl. 6483.

Sigils for some of Carmasiel's Dukes, from Harl. 6483.

The Seal of Solomon, from Harl. 6483.Seal of Solomon from the Magical Calendar.

Seal of Solomon, frontispiece from British Library manuscript Lans. 1203, LES VÉRITABLES CLAVICULES DE SALOMON, Traduites de l'Hebreux en langue Latine, Par le Rabin ABOGNAZAR.

Sigilla, nempe XII signorum zodiaci, from Paracelsus, Archidoxis magicae, Liber II.

Aries
Taurus
Gemini
Cancer
Leo
Virgo
Libra
Scorpio
Sagittarius
Capricorn
Aquarius
Pisces

The Almadel, from Gollancz, Sepher Maphteah Shelomoh, 1914, fol 20b.

Note the drawing at the bottom showing how the candles are to be constructed with feet to support the Almadel.


"Picture of the Almadel", from Or. MS. 6360:

First note of the art of grammar, from Sl. 1712, fol. 14v.

Second note of the art of grammar, from Sl. 1712, fol. 15r.

The fourth note of rhetoric and the note of geometry, from Sl. 1712, fol. 19r:

Second, third, and fourth notes of theology, from Sl. 1712. fol 21v.