Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition
No. 18, Vol. 2. Vernal Equinox 2010

A “Traditional” Grimoire

The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, Joseph Peterson (editor).  Ibis Press, Lake Worth, FL.   320 pages.   $55.00 USD.
review by Samuel Scarborough

Grimoires, Books of Magick, Secret Magical Tomes all conjure images of ancient arcane texts bound in some dusty volume purporting fantastic powers and magic to any reader who can perform the rites and rituals therein.  Within the Western Mystery Tradition there are a large body of these texts known as grimoires, some older and some newer. These include such venerated magical books as the Lemegeton, the Clavis Solomonis or the Key of Solomon, the Grimoirium Verum, the Arbatel, and of course the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage. Add to these countless lesser known titles and the magician in the Western Mystery Tradition has a plethora of traditional material to work with. One of these newer and mostly lesser texts is titled The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses.

The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses is not some long lost Books of the Bible but rather a collection of magic, particularly “folk magic” collected in Germany during the mid-eighteenth century and put together and finally published under the title of The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses in Germany during the mid-nineteenth century. This particular grimoire has been popular, especially in the United States since the early twentieth century.

Joseph Peterson is well-known in magical and grimoire circles especially for his detailed study of the various grimoires and books of magic, and has several volumes to his credit dealing with this “grammar” of magical art.  As usual in Mr. Peterson’s books he goes into detail about the various editions or translations of the particular work in question, the history of the work, and how it has been used. He follows suit in his foreword where he gives the general history and use of the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses. Couple this with the extensive appendices and notes, and Mr. Peterson really gives the reader a lot of information to contemplate and utilize.

The actual Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses only take up a relatively small portion of the total book with only 74 pages of the total of the 320 pages devoted to the text of the Sixth and Seventh Books. The rest is filled with a lengthy and extremely in depth Introduction and nine appendices, also packed with material. There are also extremely detailed endnotes which help explain various portions of the material throughout this book. The main portion relating to the Sixth and Seventh Books is faithfully reproduced complete with the appropriate seals, sigils and images. These seals and sigils are much cleaner and neater than seen in many other versions of the Sixth and Seventh Books which have been published over the years making their use and incorporation much easier for the practicing magician. This same quality of image reproduction can be found in the various versions of original texts found in Mr. Peterson’s work and throughout the appendices.  There are some sigils and seals in color, well at least in red and black which make the images stand out.

Not everyone is going to rush out and grab this book, but for those people that are seriously into grimoires and grimoire magic this book is a must addition to any collection. The book itself is a classic of the grimoire genre and Mr. Peterson and Ibis Press do an exceptional job of presenting the material faithfully and giving both historical and practical context to its use within the genre. While not as elaborate or as well known as many of the grimoires in the Solomonic tradition, this book is more of an extremely practical nature and use for the more mundane facets of magic.