THE art which is called Goëtic, being that of incantation, of sorcery, fascination and of the illusions and impostures connected therewith, has come somewhat arbitrarily to signify the last issue in diabolism of the more catholic and general art which is termed Practical Magic. The latter designation implies that there is a Magic on the theoretical side, or, as it may be, a philosophy of the subject, and this again is of two kinds: in modern days it has embodied various attempts to provide an explanation, a working hypothesis, for alleged phenomena of the past; of old it came forward with the accent of authority and carrying the warrants of a peculiar and secret knowledge; it taught rather than explained. Behind this, in virtue of a specific assumption, there stood the source of such authority, the school or schools that issued, so to speak, the certificates of title which the records of the expounding master are supposed to shew that he possessed. Herein resided presumably that Higher Magic which justified the original meaning of the term Magic; this was the science of wisdom, and of that wisdom which was the issue of experience and knowledge particular to sacred sanctuaries in the years of the Magi. In this manner a remote and abstract magnificence has been allocated to the practical work; but between this aspect as we know it otherwise and that dream as it has been dilated in the forms of its expression there is the kind of relation which subsists between renown and its non-fulfilment. If Magic in its proper and original meaning
be synonymous with wisdom; if that wisdom, by virtue of this assumption which I have mentioned, were something inconceivably great, it is of certitude that it had no causal connection with the congeries of arts and processes which are understood by Practical Magic. That there was, as there still is, a science of the old sanctuaries, I am certain as a mystic; that this science issued in that experience which imparts wisdom I am also certain; but it did not correspond to any of the arts and processes to which I refer here, nor to anything which can be received by the mind as the result of their exaltation. The consideration of a possibility thus already condemned is therefore ruled out of the inquiry which I have attempted in the present work. I have also ruled out, as it will be seen, the distinctions which have subsisted between the good and evil side of the arts and processes, not that it does not exist on the bare surface, but because the two aspects dissolve into one another and belong one to another in the root that is common to both. The actual question before us is after what manner, if any, magical procedure draws anything from secret tradition in the past, and so enters into the general subject of such tradition, whether in Christian or anterior times. It would and could only be of tradition on its worthless side, and it will not exalt a subject which the records of centuries have shewn to be incapable of being raised; it will, however, let us know where we are. On the face of the question a tradition of all kinds of rubbish is very likely to have been handed down from antiquity, and in respect of occultism, the last drift and scattermeal has passed into the Grimoires, Keys of Solomon and other rituals innumerable by which Art Magic has passed into written record.
As this book represents, under a new title and with many additions, a work which was issued originally in 1898, I have
accepted the opportunity to indicate its position in respect of far more important works embodying my construction of the Secret Tradition in Christian Times. I have secured this object--which after all is clear and simple--not by a regrettable comparison of what I have written there with that which appears in the present place, but by shewing in a brief introduction the proper sense in which phenomenal occultism and all its arts indifferently connect with the tradition of the mystics: they are the path of illusion by which the psychic nature of man enters that other path which goes down into the abyss. The book in its present revision remains of necessity a presentation of old texts by the way of digest; I have added some new sections that in this department it may be rendered more representative, and if a touch of fantasy, which is not wholly apart from seriousness, will be pardoned here at the inception, the work itself is now an appendix to the introductory thesis--the textual, historical and other evidence by which it is supported.
In the year 1889 an expositor of the more arid and unprofitable side of Kabalistic doctrine edited in English a text of Ceremonial Magic, entitled Clavicula Salomonis, or, the Key of Solomon the King. In an introduction prefixed to the work he stated that he saw no reason to doubt, and therefore presumably accepted, the tradition of its authorship, 1 which in respect of the critical sense may be taken to summarise his qualifications for a mentor stultorum. It should be added, as an additional light, that he undertook his translation more especially for the use of occult students, that is to say, for those persons who believe in the efficacy of magical rites and may, as an illustration of their faith, desire to put them in practice. With this
exception, the large body of literature which treats of Theurgic Ceremonial in its various branches has remained inaccessible to the generality of readers, in rare printed books and rarer manuscripts, in both cases mostly in foreign languages. There is probably a considerable class outside occult students to whom a systematic account of magical procedure may be not unwelcome, perhaps mainly as a curiosity of old-world credulity, but also as a contribution of some value to certain side issues of historical research; these, however, an edition for occult students would deter rather than attract. In the present work several interests have been as far as possible considered. The subject is approached from the bibliographical and critical standpoints, and all sources of information which many years of inquiry have made known to the writer have been consulted to render it complete. At the same time, seeing that there is a section of readers who will not disdain to be classed as professed occultists, whatever my view of their dedications, I am dealing with texts over which their interest may be held to exercise a certain primary jurisdiction, and I have therefore studied their requirements in two important respects, which will not, as I believe, be a source of offence to merely historical students. They have been studied, firstly, by the observance of strict technical exactitude; the ceremonial produced in this book is absolutely faithful to the originals, and removes all necessity of having recourse to the originals before determining any doubtful point of magical procedure in the past. For convenience of reference--if I may venture to make the modest bid for recognition on the part of such a circle--it is indeed superior to the originals, because it has been put systematically, whereas they often exceed understanding owing to the errors of transcribers, the misreadings of printers, the loose methods of early translators, and seemingly, it must be added, the confused minds of the
first compilers, "Solomon" himself not excepted. The innumerable offices of vain observance which constitute Ceremonial Magic, as it is presented in books, will therefore be found substantially intact by those who concern themselves with such observance.
The second respect in which the interests of the occult student have been considered is, however, of much more importance, though he may not be as ready to admit the suggestion, having regard to all that it implies. Robert Turner, the English translator of the Magical Elements, written, or--more correctly--supposed to be written, by the unfortunate Peter of Abano, describes that treatise as an introduction to "magical vanity," a term which was possibly used in a symbolical or exotic manner, to intimate that most things which concern the phenomena] world are indifferently trivial. Now, the more inward purpose of the present investigation is to place within reach of those persons who are inclined to such a subject the fullest evidence of the futility of Ceremonial Magic as it is found in books, and the fantastic nature of the distinction between White and Black Magic--so far also as the literature of either is concerned. As to the things which are implied within and may lie behind the literature, they are another consideration, about which I will say only at the moment that, judged by the fruits which they have produced, they are not incomparable to the second death beyond the gates of perdition. It would be unbecoming in a writer of my known dedications to deny that there is a Magic which is behind Magic, or that even the occult sanctuaries possess their secrets and mysteries; of these the written ceremonial is held by their self-imputed exponents to be either a debased and scandalous travesty, a trivial and misconstrued application, or, in respect of diluted views, it may be alternatively "as moonlight unto sunlight and as water unto wine." The exponents withhold their
warrants; but in the presence or absence of these, it may be as well to say at the beginning that if the secrets and mysteries belong to the powers and wonders of the psychic side, and not to the graces of the spirit, then God is not present in those sanctuaries. Let a mystic assure the occult student that as he, or any one, is dealing herein simply with nauseating follies of the inside world of distraction, so he would be concerned in the alleged schools behind them--supposing that he had the right of entrance--with the same follies carried to the ne plus ultra degree. The texts, for this reason, may be more innocent because they are more ridiculous and have the advantage--for the most part--of being impossible to follow. The statement just made will explain why it is permissible to bring forth from the obscurity of centuries a variety of processes which would be abominable if it could be supposed that they were to be seriously understood. The criticism applies to all the extant Rituals, whatever their pretended claims, whatever their surface distinction. Some are more absurd than others, some are perhaps more iniquitous, but they are all tainted with Black Magic in the same way that every idle word is tainted with the nature of sin. The distinction between White and Black Magic is the distinction between the idle and the evil word.
It would, naturally, be unsafe to affirm that all persons making use of the ceremonies in the Rituals up to the point of possibility would fail to obtain results. Perhaps in the majority of cases most of such experiments made in the past were attended with results of a kind. To enter the path of hallucination is likely to insure hallucination, and in the presence of hypnotic, clairvoyant and a thousand kindred facts it would be absurd to suppose that the seering processes of Ancient Magic--which are many--did not produce seership, or that the auto-hypnotic state which much magical ritual would obviously tend to occasion
in predisposed persons did not frequently induce it, and not always only in the predisposed. To this extent some of the processes are practical, and to this extent they are dangerous.
For convenience of treatment the present work is divided into two parts. The first contains an analytical and critical account of the chief magical rituals known to the writer; the second forms a complete Grimoire of Black Magic. It must be remembered that these are the operations which gave arms to the Inquisitors of the past, and justified Civil Tribunals in the opinion of their century for the sanguinary edicts pronounced against witch, warlock and magician. It is, in truth, a very strange and not reassuring page in the history of human aberration; nor has it been a pleasing exercise which has thus sought to make it plain, once and for all.
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A SERPENT BEFORE THE CURSE.
From the "Speculum Salvationis."
xxv:1 The work as it now stands quotes Ezekiel, Daniel, the fourth Gospel, and mentions SS. Peter and Paul. Many of these anachronisms are to be found in the pentacles accompanying the text.