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§ 2. The Lesser Key of Solomon

The Lemegeton, or Lesser Key of Solomon, Rabbi and King, is a work of far more exalted pretensions, which deploys all the hierarchies and evokes spirits by milliards. About its antiquity there is no need for serious dispute; it claims to be translated from the Hebrew, but its earliest perfect examples are in French of the seventeenth century, and no one has heard of the original. It must have existed, however, in a much earlier form; it is the subject of continual reference by demonologists like Wierus, under the style of the sorcerer's Liber Spirituum, and it is from this source that the scornful sceptic who was the pupil of Agrippa, derived his Pseudomonarchia Dæmonum, with, however, significant variations from the known copies.

The Lemegeton is divided into four parts, which control the offices of all spirits at the will of the operator, from whom the ordinary conditions are exacted. 1 With the exception of the first part, which gave materials to Wierus, this curious, and in many respects memorable, work has never been printed, although it has been taxed surreptitiously for contributions by most makers of Rituals and Grimoires. It deals,. as I have said, with the evocation of all classes of spirits, evil, indifferent and good; its opening Rites are those of Lucifer, Bel, Astaroth and the whole cohort of Infernus; it is entitled Goëtia, which sufficiently explains itself, 2 and contains the forms of conjuration

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for seventy-two chief devils and their ministers, with an account of their powers and offices. The second part, or Theurgia Goëtia, deals with the spirits of the cardinal points and their inferiors. These are mixed natures, some good and some evil. The third book is called the Pauline Art, for the significance of which name I am unable to account, it concerns the Angels of the Hours of the Day and Night and of the Zodiacal Signs. The fourth part, or Almadel, enumerates four other choirs of spirits in a somewhat obscure manner. There is one significant point about the entire work--the powers resident in the offices of Infernal Spirits are minutely set forth, but the Ritual is almost silent as to the special benefits which may be expected from intercourse with the higher classes of intelligence; it is, therefore, obvious to whom the magician would have recourse if he had a definite end in view. It is, indeed, by no means improbable that the first or Goëtic portion constitutes the true Lemegeton, and that the other sections, apparently unknown to Wierus, are additions of a later date. This division, in either case, is not only expressly connected with Black Magic, or rather exclusively devoted thereto, but it indubitably divides with the so-called Greater Key the forbidding honour of having been the chief inspiration of all the later handbooks of infernal ceremonial. Devoid of any doctrinal part, it has nothing which calls for citation in this place, but as no Grimoire can pretend to completeness without it, all its hierarchic tabulations and all its evoking processes will be given in the Second Part.

I should state in conclusion that the Little Key is ascribed sometimes to Solomon the King and sometimes to a Rabbi of that name. It should be distinguished, however, from the Key of Rabbi Solomon proper, which is more especially concerned with

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the composition, consecration and use of planetary talismans. It pretends to deal only with "good Genies," but it includes the blood sacrifice, and there is the usual anxiety in respect of the form and aspect in which the intelligence may appear. It is, however, especially provided that no seal, pentacle or character shall be applied to the injury of another, and more especially a student of the art. The art, in fine, does not involve any compact, "implicit or explicit." I suppose that this production is later than others of the cycle.


64:1 See Part ii. c. 1 of the present work.

64:2 It is the Greek word γοητεία, i.e. Witchcraft.

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