Key of Solomon

The 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 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.

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