The Lesser Key of Solomon

This digital edition by Joseph H. Peterson, Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved. Last updated: July 21, 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 July 22, 2021.

Contents

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank 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. Véonè 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. 2731 Dated January 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 Sloane 3648). This text is unfortunately incomplete, and 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 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 translation (dated 1657). It doesn't seem to have been noticed by Waite.
Sloane Ms. 3648 Titled Lemegeton: or CLAVICVLA: SALOMONIS: REX: or the Little Key of Solomon The King. Circa 1655+. 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 Dated 1685. Contains only a portion of Book 1.
Wellcome MS 3203. Commpleted on March 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. The text commences with the title The Key of Solomon which contains all the names, orders, offices of all the spirits....
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....
NLW MS 11117B.

Dated 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.

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

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.

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 Magic

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 perforned 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 nigromancy, which is wholly to be charged uppon 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 magic lies under disgrace and they who seek after it are vulgarly esteemed sorcerers. And the fraternity of the Rosicrucians thought it not fit to style themselves magicians, but philosophers. Thay are not ignorant empirics1 but learned and experienced physicians whose remedies are not only lawful but divine.]

[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 - - - - -:

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.