Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition
No. 10, Vol. 1, Vernal Equinox 2006
The Grimoirium Verum:
A Lesser Solomonic Grimoire
by Samuel Scarborough
In the magical community there has long been a tradition of grimoire magick especially related to the works of Solomon, the King of Israel from the Bible. Many books of magic are attributed to him, but most noteworthy of them are The Goetia: The Lesser Key of Solomon the King, The Key of Solomon the King, often referred to as the Clavicula Salomonins, which is Latin for "Key of Solomon," or the Greater Key of Solomon, and the Lemegeton: The Complete Lesser Key of Solomon. These works and many others were referenced by many of the early magicians of the late Medieval period and early Renaissance period, such as Henry Cornelius Agrippa. One of the more interesting books in this line of Solomonic work is a very small text known as the Grimoirium Verum, or the True Grimoire. It is this interesting work that we will be looking at in this article and comparing it with the other works in the Solomonic Tradition.
So first off, let us look at just what a Grimoire is. The word comes from the French and is translated into English as ‘Grammar’, but the popular modern usage of the word refers specifically to any medieval magical texts that record a practice of magick. The main focus of these ancient books is the summoning and command of spiritual entities for various purposes. So, what these classic grimoires are really is just the notebook of a working magician during the late medieval or Renaissance periods of time in Europe. They are just notes to remind the magician of what to say, do, and when to do certain actions for the accomplishment of summoning and controlling spirit entities, as well, in many cases how to construct the appropriate tools needs along with the invocations for those tools. In any event it is clear that these texts or notebooks were circulated widely since many of them survive in multiple translations in various languages. Most of the texts are filled with prayers and commands coached in the language of the period they were written, with heavy Biblical quotes from Psalms and general use of Hebrew names for God along with any other attendant spirit that may fall under a Divine name used. This verbage and tone was used to convey that the work contained within was of a Divine nature and that the magician was working with the Divine in these acts of summoning and commanding spirit entities.
Of these Solomonic grimoires, the Grimoirium Verum is one of the lesser known in the tradition. It this article, we will be looking at how this grimoire differs from some of the more widely recognized grimoires of the Solomonic tradition such as the Lemegeton, The Greater Key of Solomon, and The Lesser Key of Solomon. There will be a comparison between the invocations and charges to the spirits, the various spirits evoked, and the general nature of the grimoire itself. With a renewed interest in grimoiric and Solomonic magick in general this article should be helpful to those interested in those fields of study within the Western Mystery Tradition.
The Grimoirium Verum
The third point to look at on the title page is the title of the translator. This is the Jésuite Dominicain, or Dominican Jesuit, two religious orders of the Catholic Church, both known for their harshness of anything not conforming to the teachings of the Church, and also alluding to the education of the translator. Both orders were highly regarded for their education and study of not only Christian material, but also the teachings of other cultures.
Aaron Leitch in his Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires: The Classical Texts of Magick Deciphered draws the following conclusions about the Grimoirium Verum:
Waite suggests that the date given in the above quotation is fraudulent, as the text actually belongs to the mid-eighteenth century. It is written in French, though it very likely has Italian connections, and does in fact seem to have a connection to Rome. It owes a debt, as do may other grimoires, to the Key of Solomon the King as some of its material is taken directly therefrom. The Lemegeton, too, had its influence, as the Grimoirium contains instructions for the evocation f the exact same entities.
Waite’s reference to a fraudulent date is directed at the date of 1517 as the year of publication. A common practice among the occult and esoteric circles was and is to attribute things to having a greater age, thus having more weight in the more modern eras as being authentic. This practice is rather ancient and was even practiced by the Romans and the Greeks.
Another issue with this particular grimoire is that it is reportedly a book on ‘Black Magic’. Here again, in my opinion, we should look at the translator Plangière, who purports to be a Dominican Jesuit. The Jesuit Order was charged by the Catholic Church with the Counter-Reformation as well as the Inquisition in many places. This may explain the reputation of the book as being of an evil nature, as well as why Lucifer is one of the entities evoked within it. This gives the book a definitely Christian slant regardless of when it was originally printed. The Grimoirium Verum falls into the Solomonic Tradition but with a Christian bias especially against what is called ‘Black Magic’. Aaron Leitch again gives his opinion in the following:
Little more needs to be said concerning this text. This type of grimoire, along with other purported “black” rituals, have always struck me as somewhat boring, very unoriginal, and rarely of much use practically. Overall, they tend to appear as little more than rehashes of the Key of Solomon and Lemegeton, with a few dissertations included to give the text a renegade “Satanic” feel.
The statement given above draws attention particularly to the contents of the first part of the Grimoirium Verum, called "Demonologia : The First Booke", which concerns itself with the characters of the demons and devils to be called, to the nature of pacts made with devils, the kinds of spirits, the visible appearance of the spirits, and finally, to invoke the spirits. We will look at each section of the contents of the first part to see how this relates to Aaron Leitch’s statement above.
I. Concerning the Character of the Demons (This Chapter gives the Offices, Names, Powers and Sigils or Seals of the Demons which are convocated and invoked by the Operator in their work. These devils will accompany the Practitioner of this Art all their days yet with deceit. The potentates which govern these quarters are Noble and command respect and must be satisfied in their own part else they will do no service to them that call them forth nor shew themselves when called.)
Looking at this description of the first section of the first part of the book you notice that the word ‘demon’ or ‘devil’ is used several times along with the term “deceit”. The use of these terms relates to the diabolic nature of the text that the writer wishes to convey to the operator of the material within the Grimoirium Verum. As Mr. Leitch states, this “is somewhat boring and unoriginal”, and shows the attitude of the writer of the text. Plangière’s description, in the “First Booke”, of the “Character of the Daemons” helps to reinforce the diabolic nature of the subject.
This section gives us an insight into what operations were to be used to begin with. First, a character was to be drawn on paper or vellum in the operator’s blood or the blood of a sea turtle. This character could also be engraved on either a ruby or an emerald, which would be done on the day and in the hour of (Mars), i.e. on a Tuesday in the fourth hour according to the Planetary Hours which are explained in the Grimoirium Verum. These magical hours are identical to the ones presented within the Key of Solomon the King (Clavicula Salomonis), though the list in the Grimoirium Verum is much smaller and abbreviated from the one listed in the Key of Solomon the King.
The other instructions are where to carry the item with the character on it on the body or person. For a male, it is carried in the right pocket, while for a female on the left side between the breasts (close to the heart). The next portion gives advice as to whom to deal with first in making pacts so that the operator has the best chance of creating a binding pact with the evoked spirit, though the discussion of pacts is really carried out in detail in the next section of the First Book.
The next section in the “First Booke” of the Grimoirium Verum deals with the nature of the pacts that are to be made with the spirits evoked. It this section there are only two types of pacts listed, the tacit (or the implicit) and the apparent (of explicit). The writer next warns the operator about the dangers of the pact by saying:
It is when you make a pact with a spirit, and have to give the spirit something which belongs to you, that you have to be on your guard.
The section that follows this one is on the kinds of spirits, which the writer has broken into two categories, the Superior and the Inferior. According to the Grimoirium Verum the Superior Spirits consist of Lucifer, Beelzebuth, and Astaroth. Each of these Superiors has Inferiors that reside in various regions of the world and do the bidding of the Superior. For instance, Astaroth inhabits America, as do the Inferiors under the rule of Astaroth.
The next section deals with the visible appearance of the spirits, describing them in some detail as well as providing the sigils for them. The names and sigils listed are for the three Superiors, Lucifer, Beelzebuth, and Astaroth. The section is rather brief, but has some interesting information in it, particularly concerning the fact that spirits do not always appear in the same shape because “they are not themselves of matter or form, and have to find a body to appear in”. It then goes on to briefly describe the appearances of Lucifer, Beelzebuth and Astaroth.
Interestingly, Astaroth gets the least description within the Grimoirium Verum, which simply describes Astaroth as appearing “black” and in human form. Compare the above description with the one of Astaroth from the Goetia : The Lesser Key of Solomon the King (Clavicula Salomonis Regis):
Astaroth – The Twenty-ninth Spirit is Astaroth. He is a Mighty, Strong Duke, and appeareth in the Form of an hurtful Angel riding on an Infernal Beast like a Dragon, and carrying in his right hand a Viper.
The descriptions are not the only things that are different between these two books in the Solomonic Tradition. The sigils listed in both the Goetia and the Grimoirium Verum differ significantly as well.
Looking at the above sigils it is clear that the one from the Goetia (fig. 1) is more artistically done, while the one from the Grimoirium Verum (fig. 2) appears to be a bit cruder in design. The extra lines under the sigil from the Grimoirium Verum appear to be what is known as the spirit signature that is often used to verify the identity of the spirit when signed into the spirit book of the operator. This book is one of the tools of the Solomonic Tradition and will be discussed later in this article.
The “Second Booke” in the Grimoirium Verum is titled "Natural & Supernatural Secrets". This section deals with things like the Planetary Hours, several operations to be performed such as "To make Three Girls or Three Gentlemen appear in your Room, after Supper", "To Make a Girl come to You however Modest she may Be", "Divination by the Word of Uriel", "Divination by the Egg", "A Rare & Surprising Magical Secret" (concerning the manner of making the Mirror of Solomon for use in divination), and "To Make Oneself Invisible".
These ceremonies are rather standard in the Solomonic Tradition, especially within those grimoires of a “darker nature” from the Greater Key of Solomon the King, such as the Goetia and the Grimoirium Verum. Interestingly two of the ceremonies given are divinations, of these the "Divination by the Word of Uriel" is one of the more fascinating ceremonies given in the Grimoirium Verum or for that matter in any other Solomonic text. There are no other divinatory ceremonies or operation of this kind given in any of the other major works in the Solomonic Tradition, these include the Greater Key of Solomon the King, the Goetia, the Lemegeton, Ars Notoria, or even in the Grimoire of Armandel. The actual ceremony of “Divination by the Word of Uriel” is fairly lengthy but is of the general character of grimoires in general. For instance it requires a clean and consecrated place for the ceremony to take place, as well as a “virgin” glass vial of spring water and “virgin” parchment and other special implements and ingredients, such as a human fat for candles. After a lengthy conjuration a “boy of nine or ten years of age, who shall be well behaved and cleanly dressed” is to be used as the actual diviner, it is he who will see the images sent by the angel. Sometimes, for specific questions, the operation must be suspended after the conjuration; the next day the answer to the question will be found written on the parchment left for that purpose.
A number of other items stand out in this operation. First among these is that the room should not been used by a woman or women in an impure state for at least nine days. This means that no woman that was menstruating could have been in the room during this period of time, or that the room had been used as a location for a sexual tryst in that time. This follows the standard Solomonic dictates of a level of personal and spiritual cleanliness. The number of days is also significant for cleanliness, and is a common number of purification and cleansing in Solomonic texts, particularly the Greater Key. This cleanliness is a preparation to purification and consecration, which is carried out by the consecrations and aspersion with Holy Water with an Aspergillum, a device used to sprinkle Holy Water, which in Solomonic Tradition is usually nine herbs gathered together and tied with virgin thread (or thread spun by a virgin), and dipped in consecrated water and then sprinkled around the work area.
The second point that stands out within this operation is the material of the tapers used. In this case, it is wax mixed with human fat. Many of the “darker grimoires” mention the use of unsavory items such as human fat, animal or human blood, and other nasty items as ingredients. Many of these are simply ‘blinds’, i.e. placed there to keep the uninitiated from performing the operations or ceremonies due to the gruesome ingredients which in many cases would be taboo, such as human fat. Otherwise the placement of these sorts of ingredients could come from some of the translators, particularly the priests, to show that all works of magic are evil or associated with evil in one way or another. Plangière for instance in the Grimoirium Verum lists himself as a Dominican Jesuit, who of course would not be approaching the work from an unbiased point of view.
Some of the materials in these grimoires, such as blood or animal brains for inks could have simply been thickening agents for the other items in the recipes of the inks and other items where they are used. Aaron Leitch in his Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires : The Classical Texts of Magick Deciphered holds the above view that blood is intended as a bonding or thickening agent for such items, mentioning that the Greater Key of Solomon the King calls for the blood of a gosling, bat or other winged animal to make the ink, this being the same animal that gave a feather to use as a pen, and that in modern usage gum arabic could be substituted for the blood. What to substitute for something such as ‘human fat’ that is used in the candles in the above ritual, or for that matter, just what the use of the “human fat’ affects in the ritual is not apparent.
Implements and Tools in the Grimoirium
The first tool to look at is the general magical knife. The knife, or “lancet”, must be of new steel made during the day and hour of Jupiter while the moon is in crescent shape. The general knife to be used in the operations of the Greater Key of Solomon the King is the white handled knife. This knife is to be made during the day and hour of Mercury when Mars is in Aries or Scorpio. Beyond this other preparations must be made, including the tempering of the blade in blood or juice and having special characters carved into its hilt. We are also told much more about the knife’s function here than we are in the other grimoire.
Obviously, the instructions from the Greater Key are more detailed than those from the Grimoirium Verum, but both have a great deal of similarity. Both instruct the operator to have the knife made at the appropriate times depending on which grimoire is being used, whether the operator creates the knife or purchases it from a blade smith. Also there is a note within the Grimoirium Verum, in the section concerning virgin parchment which mentions the knife again, so that it more closely connects to the one described in the Greater Key.
After inscribing on the blade AGLA and having fumigated it, the knife will serve you for all purposes.
This is the same as the instructions from the Greater Key concerning the knife, though it is listed under another implement completely within the Grimoirium Verum.
The next tool or implement to be discussed is the Pen of the Art. Once more, the instructions are very similar for the creation of the Pen of the Art in both grimoires. The sequence of events is slightly different in the two concerning the pen. Where the two differ is when the conjuration is performed for the pen. In the Grimoirium Verum it is performed while cutting the points of the quill after the quill has been fumigated with incense and asperged with holy water, while the conjuration is performed while plucking the feather from the gosling in the Greater Key. Both conjurations are very similar asking the divine to remove all errors and deceit ("illusion" in the Grimoirium Verum), while making the quill or pen an effective instrument to use in the operations.
To go along with the Pen of the Art, the magician needs an inkstand, which will hold the magical ink that the Pen of the Art uses. Both the Grimoirium Verum and the Greater Key of Solomon the King have instructions for just such and item. Unlike with the previous instruments the instructions presented for the inkstand in the Grimoirium Verum and the Greater Key of Solomon the King are virtually identical.
The above-mentioned implements from the “Third Booke” of the Grimoirium Verum are just a few examples that are listed in detail here. Other tools and implements of the Art include the Sacrificial Knife, Virgin Parchment, the Lancet, the Magical Staff, another Staff (Wand), Perfumes (Incense), and the Pentacle of Solomon. Along with these items are the various orations and conjurations for each, plus instructions on asperging during an operation, making a sacrifice of the Kid (a young goat, not a child), from which the parchment is created, and several other orations connected with the creation of the virgin parchment.
The real magical meat of the Grimoirium Verum comes in the “Fourth Booke” – Sanctum Regnum. It is here that the actual summoning of various spirits is given in detail. As mentioned earlier, the Superiors with in this grimoire are Lucifer, Beelzebuth, and Astaroth and each has a number of Inferiors or lesser spirits under their service. Each of the Superiors is given two such Inferiors in this chapter of the grimoire. After these there are listed eighteen other “dæmons” under the authority of a Duke named Syrach. Each of the eighteen demons or lesser spirits has a sigil that is listed for use by the summoner, along with a description of the powers that each possess or grant to the person that summons them. This arrangement is exceedingly similar to the arrangement given in the Goetia for the spirits listed, except in the Grimoirium Verum the spirits do not have a description so that you know what they look like when they are summoned into visible appearance either in a mirror, stone, or physical manifestation.
Also within this section are the conjurations for Inferior Spirits, the "Orison of the Salamanders", "to see Spirits of the Air", "Dismissing any Spirit", "Dismissal of the Spirit", as well as the "Dismissal of the Inferior Spirits". This later is worth looking at, as it is in Latin and is very analogous to the "Dismissal" from the Goetia.
Ite in pace ad loca vestra et pax fit inter vos redituri ad mecum vos invocavero, in nomine Patris + et filii + et Spiritus Sancti. + Amen +
Now let us look at the general dismissal or "License to Depart" from the Goetia : the Lesser Key of Solomon the King, and compare it to the one above from the Grimoirium Verum.
O THOU Spirit N., because thou hast diligently answered unto my demands, and hast been very ready and willing to come at my call, I do here licence thee to depart unto thy proper place; without causing harm or danger unto man or beast. Depart, then, I say, and be thou very ready to come at my call, being duly exorcised and conjured by the sacred rites of magic. I charge thee to withdraw peaceably and quietly, and the peace of GOD be ever continued between thee and me. Amen!
Would the material presented within the Grimoirium Verum work and produce results? Most likely, the answer to that question would be yes. If the material presented in the more traditional Solomonic Tradition works, and this grimoire was intelligently created along those lines, then obviously what is presented here can be used to accomplish what is described within it. The problem that many may have with using this particular grimoire, more so than even the Goetia, is the connotation of Lucifer being used. From a Western, predominately Christian world view, Lucifer is equivalent with Satan, as is Beelzebub (variantly spelled Beelzebuth, Belzebuth, or Beelzebaal). In any event all are seen as Fallen Angels serving diabolic and evil forces, or the evil force itself. Ultimately, it is at the discretion of the magician as to whether the material presented in this grimoire should be added to the repertoire within the Solomonic Tradition.
With much new scholarship into the Solomonic arts, many of the once “dark” actions within these classic grimoires can be overcome by modern substitution. No longer would the magician need such unsavory (at least to most modern practioners) items as blood from a gosling, bat, cat, or other bird, nor human fat, or brains of a black cat for use in some of the instructions within these grimoires, particularly those that have a “Satanic” or evil slant. Sacrifice of a Kid or young goat to create vellum is another item that is taboo in modern society, but was common during the time that the grimoires were written from the simple stand point of having to slaughter an animal for food and make use of its hide. As recently as 50 years ago, there were many places in the United States that still subsisted by slaughtering their own animals for food and other needs. Now we can just run down to the local store to get what we need for food and in many cases magical needs as well, or check online for that special item, the convenience of being a modern magician in the Information Age.
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1. Leitch. Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires: The Classical Text of Magick Deciphered. Frontise page.
2. Henson 1994, p.239.
3. Plangière 1997, title page.
4. Yates 1979, p.18.
5. Leitch 2005, p.27.
7. Plangière 1997, p.i.
8. Ibid. pp.1-2.
9. Ibid. pp.7-8.
10. Mathers 1989, p.7.
11. Plangière 1997, p.2.
13. Ibid, p.3.
16. Mathers 1997, p.41. The description goes on to tell of Astoreth’s legions and the way the spirit should be treated.
17. Plangière 1997, pp.12-15.
18. Leitch 2005, p.286.
19. Plangière 1997, p.24.
20. Mathers 1989, p.96.
21. Plangière 1997, p.26.
22. Plangière 1997, p.26, Mathers 1989, p.108.
23. Plangière 1997, p.31, Mathers 1989, p.108.
24. Plangière 1997, p.59.
25. Mathers 1997, p.89.