A pact is a binding agreement with a spirit, usually a DEMON, for services beyond the power of nature, such as procuring treasure. Informal pacts with demons and the devil exist in legend and folklore tales about individuals seduced into selling their souls. In ceremonial Magic, formal pacts are made enabling a magician to control a spirit for certain tasks and favours.
There are two types of pacts: a unilateral pact, in which a demon agrees to service without condition, and a bilateral pact, in which demon agrees to conditional service on penalty of forfeiture of the magician’s body and soul. Pacts are dealt with in Grimoires, handbooks of ceremonial magic. Regardless of type of pact, some spirits bind easily and some do not; the latter are dangerous and not to be trusted.
The most important grimoire, the Key of Solomon, mentions “penal bonds” and “pacts” only in connection with magic for love and favours but goes into no detail. Instead, the Key states that PENTACLES are sufficient to protect the magician from demons. Similarly, the Grimorium Verum has little to say about pacts and protection. The Lemegeton does not deal at all with the need for protection and pacts to armor the magician’s soul from harm.
The Grand Grimoire, a book of black magic, emphasizes pacts as the means to secure demonic services. The book states that if the magician cannot master a kabbalistic circle (see Magic CIRCLE) and a BLASTING ROD (a wand feared by every demon), then a pact is an absolute necessity. Even with those two instruments of magic, a pact is advisable. Without the blasting rod and the kabbalistic circle, a magician’s prospects of success are slim, according to the grimoire.
A pact cannot be made with the top three demons named in the grimoire—Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Astaroth—but only with one of their lieutenants. It provides a written one between the magician and Lucifuge Rofocale, the prime minister of Lucifer. Lucifuge Rofocale is described as a reluctant and obstinate spirit who must be forced to appear with the use of the blasting rod and threats of Curses.
The Grand Grimoire gives a Grand Conjuration of the Spirit for summoning Lucifuge Rofocale. When at last the demon appears, he demands that in exchange for his services, the magician “give thyself over to me in fifty years, to do with thy body and soul as I please.” After more bargaining that involves threats from the magician to send him into eternal fire with the blasting rod, the demon agrees to appear twice a night except on Sundays and makes a written conditional pact with the magician. He recognizes the authority of the magician and his grimoire, agrees to provide requested services if properly summoned, and demands certain services and payment in return on penalty of forfeiture of the magician’s soul:
I also approve thy Book, and I give thee my true signature on parchment, which thou shalt affix at its end, to make use of at thy need. Further, I place myself at thy disposition, to appear before thee at thy call when, being purified, and holding the dreadful Blasting Rod, thou shalt open the Book, having described the Kabbalistic circle Ps s s s and pronounced the word Rocofale. I promise thee to have friendly commerce with those who are fortified by the possession of the said Book, where my true signature stands, provided that they invoke me according to rule, on the first occasion that they require me. I also engage to deliver thee the treasure which thou seekest, on condition that thou keepest the secret for ever inviolable, art charitable to the poor, and dost give me a gold or silver coin on the first day of every month. If thou failest, thou art mine everlastingly. LUCIFUGE ROFOCALE
The reference to the “Book” is the spurious Fourth Book, a grimoire attributed to Henry Cornelius Agrippa.
The Grand Grimoire tells how to make a pact with Lucifuge Rofocale, which must be signed by the magician with his own Blood. The magician collects the following Tools: a wand of wild hazel (not a blasting rod), a BloodSTONE, and two blessed CANDLES. He goes to an isolated place either indoors or outdoors—the depths of a ruined castle are ideal. He makes a Magic Triangle with the bloodstone and enters it, holding his written pact, the Grand Conjuration of the Spirit, the hazel wand, the Clavicle (grimoire), and the discharge for dismissing the demon once business is concluded. He first conjures Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Astaroth to ask them to send Lucifuge Rofocale for the purpose of entering into a pact. When the demon finally appears, this exchange takes place:
Manifestation of the Spirit
Lo! I am here! What dost thou seek of me? Why dost thou disturb my repose? Answer me. LUCIFUGE ROFOCALE
Reply to the Spirit
It is my wish to make a pact with thee, so as to obtain wealth at thy hands immediately, failing which I will torment thee by the potent words of the Clavicle.
The Spirit’s Reply
I cannot comply with thy request except thou dost give thyself over to me in twenty years, to do with thy body and soul as I please. LUCIFUGE ROFOCALE
Thereupon throw him your pact, which must be written with your own hand, on a sheet of virgin parchment; it should be worded as follows, and signed with your own blood:—I promise the grand Lucifige to reward him in twenty years’ time for all the treasures he may give me. In witness thereof I have signed myself N.N.
Reply of the Spirit
I cannot grant thy request. LUCIFUGE ROFOCALE
In order to enforce his obedience, again recite the Supreme Appellation, with the terrible words of the Clavicle, till the spirit reappears, and thus addresses you:—
Of the Spirit’s Second Manifestation
Why dost thou torment me further? Leave me to rest, and I will confer upon thee the nearest treasure, on condition that thou dost set apart for me one coin on the first Monday of each month, and dos not call me oftener than once a week, to wit, between ten at night and two in the morning. Take up thy pact; I have signed it. Fail in thy promise, and thou shalt be mine at the end of twenty years. LUCIFUGE ROFOCALE
King James VI of Scotland, in his work Daemonologie (1597), agreed with the anonynous author of the Grand Grimoire that the need for a pact showed that a magician was too weak in power to secure the services of demons by magical means.
Pacts in Witchcraft
During the Inquisition, European witch hunters believed that witches entered into a “devil’s pact,” pledging to serve the devil or one of his satellite demons. The pact was said to be sometimes oral but traditionally was written on virgin parchment and signed in blood. The witch agreed to exchange allegiance and soul for the granting of magical power and all wishes and desires. Whereas the magician sought a pact for personal gain, such as finding treasure, the witch was believed to make a pact to obtain power to harm others out of pure malice. A witch’s pact with the devil was either made privately, or was part of a ceremony conducted during a sabbat.
The devil’s pact of the Inquisition was based on a long history of assumption among theologians that any practice of magic, Sorcery, or even Divination had to involve a demonic pact. Such assertions were made by Origen (185–254) and by Saint Augustine (354–430), one of the most important fathers of the early church. In the 13th century, Saint Thomas Aquinas (c. 1227–74)—the church’s greatest theologian, stated in Sententiae, “Magicians perform miracles through personal contracts made with demons.”
Inquisitors tortured accused witches to force confessions of devil’s pacts. There was no need to produce an actual document; an oral confession was sufficient to sentence the accused to death, often by burning at the stake. In two famous trials in 17th-century France, devil’s pacts were produced, one orally and one in writing.
In 1611, Father Louis Gaufridi was tried on charges of causing nuns in Aix-en-Provence to be possessed. Under torture, he recited his pact verbally for the inquisitors:
I, Louis Gaufridi, renounce all good, both spiritual as well as temporal, which may be bestowed upon me by God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, all the Saints of Heaven, particularly my Patron St. John-Baptist, as also S. Peter, S. Paul, and S. Francis, and I give myself body and soul to Lucifer, before whom I stand, together with every good that I may ever possess (save always the benefits of the sacraments touching those who receive them). And according to the tenor of these terms have I signed and sealed.
One of Gaufridi’s victims was a woman named Madeleine de la Paud, who also confessed orally to making a devil’s pact:
With all my heart and most unfeignedly and with all my will most deliberately do I wholly renounce God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost; the most Holy Mother of God; all the Angels and especially my Guardian Angel, the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, His Precious Blood and the merits thereof, my lot in Paradise, also the good inspirations which God may give me in the future, all the prayers which are made or may be made for me.
Father Gaufridi was convicted and burned alive at the stake. Sister Madeleine was convicted and was banished from the parish.
In 1633, Father Urbain Grandier, a parish priest of Saint-Pierre-du-Marche in Loudon, France, was brought to trial on charges of causing the nuns in Loudon to become possessed. A written pact was introduced as evidence. It was written backward in Latin and signed in blood. It read:
We, the all-powerful Lucifer, seconded by Satan, Beelzebub, Leviathan, Elimi, Astaroth, and others, have today accepted the pact of alliance with Urbain Grandier, who is on our side. And we promise him the love of women, the flower of virgins, the chastity of nuns, worldly honors, pleasures, and riches. He will fornicate every three days; intoxication will be dear to him. He will offer to us once a year a tribute marked with his blood; he will trample under foot the sacraments of the church, and he will say his prayers to us. By virtue of this pact, he will live happily for twenty years on earth among men, and finally will come among us to curse God. Done in hell, in the council of the devils. (Signed by) “Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer, Elimi, Leviathan, Astaroth.
“Notarized the signature and mark of the chief devil, and my lords the princes of hell. (Countersigned by) “Baalberith, recorder.
Grandier was convicted and burned alive at the stake.
Pacts in Vodoun
A pact with a loa, or a god, in Vodoun is called an engagement. Such pacts usually are made only with evil loas and would be the equivalent of a demonic pact.
- Butler, E. M. Ritual Magic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1949.
- Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft. 2d ed. New York: Facts On File Inc., 1999.
- Pelton, Robert W. Voodoo Secrets from A to Z. Cranbury, N.J.: A. S. Barnes and Co., 1973.
- Waite, Arthur Edward. The Book of Black Magic and of Pacts. 1899. Reprint, York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, 1972.
- From: The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.