Lemegeton

Lemegeton
This is the first quality trade paperback of one of the most famous (or infamous) magical texts of the Seventeenth Century. A complete compendium of magic as understood by the Elizabethan magus. It contains detailed instructions for the conjuration and control of spirits. It is considered by many to be the primary source work in goetic evocation.

Lemegeton: Known also as the Lesser Key of Solomon, this treatise instructs the reader in the fine art of summoning and compelling spirits. It is intricately tied to the belief, common throughout medieval Europe, that the biblical King Solomon was given power over demons and subsequently used this power to enslave a number of infernal beings to help complete the work of his great temple. Most of the current copies of this book date to the seventeenth century and are drawn from translations of a pair of manuscripts known as Sloane 3825 and Sloane 2731. These are held in a collection at the British Museum. The tradition from which the Lemegeton stems, however, is much older than the Sloane manuscripts. Many of the spirits that appear in this work can also be found in other manuscripts, such as the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, compiled by Johannes Wierus in 1563, and the Munich Handbook, a fifteenth-century necromancer’s handbook translated in recent years by scholar Richard Kieckhefer.

The Lemegeton is traditionally composed of five books: the Goetia, the Ars Theurgia, the Pauline Art, the Almadel, and the Ars Notoria. The Goetia, sometimes known as the Theurgia-Goetia, deals with spirits that are expressly identified as evil. The Ars Theurgia purports to deal with “good” demons, all of which are tied to specific directions along the points of the compass. The Pauline Art is concerned with the names of angels connected with the hours of the night and the day, as well as the angels of the zodiac. The Almadel concerns itself with the invocation of angels connected with the four quarters. The Ars Notoria, or Notary Art of Solomon, is a curious book of images and orations presented as having the ability to magickally enhance wisdom, memory, and communication skills. This is not a unique work but a style of book that was popular in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Occultist Mitch Henson, who produced a translation of the Lemegeton in 1999, suggests that the Ars Notoria was not originally a part of the Lesser Key but was appended by James Turner in his 1657 edition.

As this probably suggests, the Lemegeton that has come down to us is not a book that was written from cover to cover by the same individual, but a compilation of a series of related manuscripts.

Furthermore, not all of the books of the Lemegeton were composed at the same time. The Almadel dates internally to 1641, while the similarities between the Goetic demons and those in the Pseudomonarchia suggest that the Goetia is older by at least a hundred years. The pseudepigraphal Testament of Solomon, likely composed in the first few centuries of the Christian era, is certainly the inspiration, if not the source, for much of the material contained within the Lemegeton. If a direct line of descent connecting these books exists, however, it has been lost through the ages.

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