Of the Arte Goetia: The Second Conjuration

While the first conjuration of Goetia is noted to be suitable for all spirits, further conjurations are included in the work should the first not be successful after several recitations. While none of these conjurations are expressly titled, each has a somewhat specific function in escalating the urgency of the spirit’s arrival as well as the penalties for its refusal. In this article, I specifically want to discuss the second conjuration presented in Goetia and what makes it so interesting in the history of this work.

The format of this conjuration is different from the first in that, rather than supplying the typically tedious and near-endless recitation of divine names, it includes a number of Biblical personages and events in conjunction with those names.

Many of these are fairly obscure, but others are well known:

  1. Jacob and the Angel (Genesis 32)
  2. Jacob delivered from Esau (Genesis 32)
  3. Lot and the Strangers (Genesis 19)
  4. Joshua: The Sun Stands Still (Joshua 10)
  5. Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego (Daniel 3)
  6. Daniel, Bel, & the Dragon (Apocryphal)
  7. Moses and the Plagues (Exodus 7)
  8. Sea of Glass (Revelations 4)
  9. Chora, Dathan, & Abiram (Numbers 16)

Of these references, only the mention of the Sea of Glass is from the New Testament, and likely a later addition to a conjuration whose references are set squarely in the Torah with only one, albeit contemporary, exception. This is the apocryphal story of Daniel, the same Daniel of “…and the lion’s den” fame, who proves the idol of Bel (Baal) is not possessed of powers from that deity, and goes on to defeat a dragon – both in the city of the Persian King Cyrus. Specific, contextual detail on each of these references is given in Of the Arte Goetia.

A Latin version of this specific conjuration can be found in both Additional 110 and Codex Latinus Monacensis 849. I have included a transcription from Additional 110 in Of the Arte Goetia. Most interesting with respect to Goetia is that this conjuration bears the title Vinculum Salomonis, translated as The Bond of Solomon or The Chain of Solomon. Why is that interesting? I thought you’d never ask! It’s exciting for two reasons, especially in recognizing that this Vinculum Solomonis is likely a redaction of the original title (or vice versa) Vinculum SpirituumOf the Bonds of Spirits.

First, it ties into internal references in the listing of spirits to a “Spirit’s Chain” used to compel the spirits into obedience. Thus, as I assert the contents of Goetia are in fact three works that were collected together from separate sources, one can see where the compiler would have wanted to bring in this external reference. However, none of the conjurations are expressly given under that title, so it remains speculative until the “Spirit’s Chain” can be positively identified as one or more of the conjurations. This can be done by virtue of its listing under that title in Additional MS 110.

Secondly, it allows us to tie at least the second conjuration of Goetia into Trithemius’s listing of necromantic works in his unpublished Antipalus Maleficiorum (Enemy of Witchcraft), which lists a Vinculum Spirituum that describes exactly the sort of conjurations given in Goetia. Trithemius lists an incipit, or beginning, of the work that matches Additional MS 110, so we are certain that the version in the manuscript matches what was published as a necromantic work in Antipalus Maleficiorum. I intend to follow this article with another – the last in the “Hell Week” series coinciding with the launch of Of the Arte Goetia – delineating the connection of Trithemius (and his library) with Goetia.

More details on the above are given in Of the Arte Goetia, as well as information on the other conjurations, observations, and the spirits themselves. Want to know more about the origins of what became Goetia? You know where to go!

Of the Arte Goetia can be published from Teitan Press, Weiser Antiquarian, and a number of specialty book stores around the world. The deluxe edition is now sold out, but a limited number of signed copies remain!


Of the Arte Goetia: John Dee?

Next in a series of articles for the launch week of my new book Of the Arte Goetia, I want to discuss the possible role of Elizabethan magus John Dee in the emergence of Goetia into the English language. This is of necessity speculative, as Dee was very careful not to catalog his more illicit materials, but there are a number of circumstances that point to his potential involvement, if only tangentially.


First and foremost is the time period. Dee was in his magical prime during the 1580s, where the bulk of his Enochian sytem was developed, dying in 1609. This places him at the epicenter of a very fertile manuscript period in England. He also possessed perhaps the greatest library in all of Europe, and was frequently visited by traveling scholars for access to those works, so even were there no Goetia manuscript in his handwriting – and there are none identified as such – the source of those manuscript copies could still have originated in the stacks of Dee’s private library.

Diary Evidence

Within the diaries that compose the bulk of the Enochian corpus are a number of references to other works, similar in nature: Heptameron, Arbatel, Ars Notoria, Liber Juratus, and Trithemius’ Steganographia. Thus, we know that he did collect works of this type, even though he was not always open to sharing them. (Since he would likely have been put to death for it, one can see why.)

It was in fact his partner-in-crime, Edward Kelley, that seems to have had a penchant for goetic magic, however, that the elder Dee had little taste for. Kelley was reproached by Dee on at least one occasion for dealing with evil spirits:

Note, my Companion (E.K.) would have caused personal apparitions of some of the reprobate spirits, before the Prince Albert Laskie in my Study, thereby to shew some experience of his skill in such doings: But I would not consent to it: And thereupon Galvah [an angel] gave judgement and warning of such an error, of my Companion his intent, &c. [Casuabon, TFR, p21]

There is a further mention that is of interest as well, where a mention of the spirit Andras (number sixty-three) is given in the diaries of angelic conversation. No mention of the connection is made in the diaries, but – who knows? [See Causabon, TFR, p41]

Library Evidence

A manuscript in the Penn State library (formerly of the Rainsford collection at Alnwick castle)  is a copy of Livre des Espirits (Book of Spirits) in Trinity College, Cambridge, MS O.8.29. While MS O.8.29 is reasonably well known, it is the Rainsford copy that states its original owner was John Dee. A great number of manuscripts and books from Dee’s collection did end up at this library, and this “book of spirits” is similar in content to Goetia with a listing of spirits and their offices. If we can believe the annotation of Dee’s ownership, there is direct evidence that Dee owned a very similar manuscript and therefore would not have been above owning what came to be known as Goetia.

While we know the source of at least one translation of Wier’s Pseudomonarchia Daemonum into English being Scot’s The Discoverie of Witchcraft, Dee also had a copy of the 1583 edition of Wier’s work, as there is evidence of him lending it to assist in a case of suspected demonic possession. However, it is almost certain that it was Scot’s work being leveraged for the manuscripts, as many translational errors or decisions were brought forward directly. Who knows – maybe Scot borrowed or otherwise had access to Dee’s copy?


This is not to say that there were not others in his time that were interested, and it is as likely that one of these individuals was responsible for one or more variants of Goetia. However, given the position that Dee held – unofficially, of course – in what might be deemed the underground occult community of the time, I strongly believe Dee’s hand is in there somewhere. This is discussed in further detail in Of the Arte Goetia, of course, as well as the influence of a number of other people that trace the exceptionally rich history of this manuscript.

Of the Arte Goetia is available from Teitan Press in a limited edition of 720 copies and 72 special edition copies in slipcase. 6 3/4″ x 8 3/4″ in black cloth hard cover binding; 280pp. [Note that as of this writing, the special edition copies are no longer available.]

The Offices of Spirits, a Hockley manuscript with close connections to Goetia is also available in a limited edition, with some copies still remaining.

Of the Arte Goetia: Origins

As part of the book launch for Of the Arte Goetia, I will be posting some information from the work, along with some additional ideas that may or may not have been included. This particular posting is about the origins of what became the English language manuscript that we have come to know under the title Goetia, included as the first book of five in the greater corpus of Lemegeton, or The Lesser Key of Solomon.

While the term goetia is a Greek word for evil sorcery in general, the heading given to the work that now inexorably bears its name is a collection of three sections, which I believe (and show) to be from three separate manuscripts circulating no later than 1500 CE.

The first section is the listing of spirits, which has a great deal in common with a number of other treatises of the time period, including the Trinity MS Livre Des Espirits and the Folger MS containing De Officium Spirituum (Of the Offices of Spirits). I published a Hockley MS variant of the latter in 2011, also through Teitan Press, whose origin – as far as can be traced – is in Folger V.b.26, formerly owned by Fredrick Hockley and originally penned by one John Porter in 1577 (and/or 1583). This portion continues a tradition of spirit listings that seems to have been alive and well during this period, implying that collections of spirits must have predated even this. It is on this section that I will focus this discussion.

Many are aware that the listing of spirits that is presented in Goetia is derived almost in its entirety from the earlier work Pseudomonarchia Daemonum (The False Monarchy of Demons) as given by Johann Wier (Wierus) in his publication in protest of the witch hysteria in his native Germany, De Praestigiis Daemonum (Of the Illusions of Spirits). This is true in as much as the order of these spirits is different, and the list is short three spirits – the last three given in Goetia. It also has a different spirit – Pruflas/Busas – in place of the third spirit of Goetia, Vassago. Wier’s work did not originally contain this listing, but he included it in later versions (starting in 1577) as an example, and one he openly admits to having redacted should anyone be foolish enough to attempt it. (Ha!)

This work, specifically with relation to its advocacy against persecution of suspected witches (typically, impoverished elderly women), was picked up in England by Reginald Scot, a lawyer, who argued in The Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584), that not only were witches not actually able to do all the things of which they were accused, but that regardless they should be tried for the crime they were accused of committing rather than witchcraft itself. So, for example, if they were accused of killing cattle with witchcraft, let them be tried for killing livestock, not witchcraft! It was a very sane argument for the time, but – in copying Wier – also included a great deal of information on “jugglers’ knacks” and other instruments of illusion, as well as information on such “popish knavery” as was in vogue at the time. This included the listing of spirits, translated from Wier’s Latin into English. For the first time, the spirits of the Goetia had a British accent.

This turn of events is interesting, as we have printed Latin in 1577 turning to printed English… but then – as was common for the period – turning into manuscript, handwritten English. Part of this may be due to the fact that the fanatical witch hunter King James I ordered all copies of Scot’s work burned as heretical. In his own Daemonologie, James excoriates both Wier and Scot in one fell swoop as deniers of the existence of witchcraft, something which the infamous Malleus Malefecarum (Hammer of the Witches) notes as being heretical in and of itself. So, it is possible that this was precisely what gave rise to the existence of these manuscripts in the first place, though with less dramatics it was equally common for printed books to be copied in such a fashion purely due to scarcity.

This very short time span nonetheless introduced a number of lacunae and outright errors and omissions, as might be expected. One of the aims of Of the Arte Goetia was to place these three sources – Wier, Scot, and the manuscripts – side by side so that one could see the evolution of each spirit’s description. Once accomplished, it was easy to show where discrepancies arose. For example, one of Wier’s limitations was in typesetting: he had to show characters from his own source material – and from where he obtained this is described in the book – in a printed text that did not have that capacity. Thus, an asterisk was placed in its stead. So, when the manuscripts picked this up, the description of Decarabia, who “appears as a star” is actually incorrect! The “star” comes from the asterisk in the printed work(s), which is meant to show a figure that could not be typeset!

Much of this forensic work was at the heart of this publication, and the above is but a small example of the changes that occurred. Spirits that belong to Sagittarius? Sorry – that’s not correct! It was an error in translation! In a southern sign? You guessed it: more translational errors! Thus, for the first time, I believe Of the Arte Goetia supplies the most accurate depiction of the spirits of Goetia available since the original manuscripts, now lost. It was exciting to research, and I hope you find it as exciting to read.


Of the Arte Goetia is available from Teitan Press in a limited edition of 720 copies and 72 special edition copies in slipcase. 6 3/4″ x 8 3/4″ in black cloth hard cover binding; 280pp.

The Offices of Spirits, a Hockley manuscript with close connections to Goetia is also available in a limited edition, with some copies still remaining.

Of the Arte Goetia

53427Who needs another book on Goetia? Well, you do, for one. Luckily, I was just the guy to spend six years writing it.

Most students of the occult are well aware of the infamous grimoire by that name, largely through the version associated with Aleister Crowley, and most of those are aware that it is in fact the first book of five in Lemegeton, or the Lesser Key of Solomon. It’s certainly how I came to know of it some twenty years ago, and it’s held a particular fascination for me ever since.

For this work, one of my major aims was to provide a historical background, and specifically link the work – if possible – to items listed in the abbot Trithemius’ listing of necromantic works, Antipalus Maleficiorum (The Enemy of Witchcraft). [1] I detail a number of individuals and printed works that predate the emergence of Goetia in the English manuscripts, investigate the manuscripts themselves and similar manuscripts of relevance, and also show the development and publication of Goetia through the following centuries.

Secondly, I wanted to provide a comparison of three variants that occurred over a very short time span that brought Goetia from printed Latin into the English manuscripts: Wier’s Pseudomonarchia Daemonum, Scot’s The Discoverie of Witchcraft, and finally the anonymous manuscripts of Goetia as we have come to know it. This comparison allows us to quickly see how the text evolved over the span of just a few years, with redactions and lacunae being introduced and interpreted (incorrectly) for years. Pulling in sources such as The Offices of Spirits, a Hockley variant of which I also published through Teitan Press in 2011, also allowed clarity in a number of circumstances, and the result is a more accurate rendering of the spirits than has been assembled since its creation.

Of the Arte Goetia does more than reflect on history, however, it also does what no work has done before: undergo exegesis on the many internal references within the manuscript itself. From an explanation of the Dionysian orders of angels, to apocryphal references, and historical context, great pains have been taken to explain the contents of the work and why specific mentions are given in the listings of sprits, observations, and orations. All of this is intended to give the student and practitioner a level of understanding about the text that has previously been unavailable.

I am extremely happy with the fruits of this labor, beautifully produced by Teitan Press. I do hope you enjoy it.

Of the Arte Goetia is now available from Teitan Press in a special edition of 72 copies in slipcase, each designated to a spirit, and 720 standard copies of which the first hundred are signed. (Standard copy shown above.)

[1]  Skinner and Rankine, in their Goetia of Dr. Rudd, note that all of the other books in Lemegeton are present in Antipalus Maleficiorum, but I believe I have been able to tie in Goetia itself more concretely, if not definitively.


The Beast of Hebron

During the US Memorial Day holiday I took a drive to northern New Hampshire to the small town of Hebron, located on the northern shore of Newfound Lake. There are about 600 residents, at present, and the town center was all but deserted save for an elderly gentleman tending the cemetery behind the Union Congregational Church. Being a Sunday, the town store, library, and town hall were all closed, the church-goers long since departed in the late afternoon. This wasn’t a concern for me, however, as I had come to stand before the small former-parsonage of the aforementioned church, resting neatly behind a white picket fence. It was quaint enough to have been featured in a 1960 article in New Hampshire Profiles magazine, but I knew it as the formerly-owned cottage of astrologer Evangeline Adams and the 1916 summer residence of one Aleister Crowley.

Adams herself was a major influence on popular astrology in America and had commissioned Crowley to ghost-write what would become two works: Astrology, Your Place in the Sun and Astrology, Your Place Among the Stars. Based on the existence of a corresponding typescript, this has since been released as The General Principles of Astrology (Weiser, 2002) under Crowley’s own name. Adams, living in New York, did not travel to the then-popular summer destination very often, and had let the cottage to Crowley, presumably for the purpose of completing the work.

Crowley also considered his time there a “great magical retirement”, where he engaged in… well, pretty much whatever fancied him. There were certainly operations focused on the application of the elixer, the result of sex-magick operations in New York “hastily prepared” just prior to his journey to Hebron and the lake, then called Lake Pasquany. (See AMRITA, page 12.) It is also where he received his “star-sponge” vision of the universe, an event that would have a profound impact on him.

For me, living in New England, this locale has had a particular draw to me, and I am looking forward to doing more research on it. This is hampered by a few issues:

  1. We have little else but Crowley’s accounts to go by. Per the research done by H. Beta, et al, it appears that Adams leaves us no memoirs on which to depend.
  2. Local records are equally sparse. The “local” newspaper was in Bristol, but this is at the far southern end of the lake and unlikely to have been concerned with daily minutia to the north. (Very local papers at the time often served as town gossip, and would have the comings and goings of residents and visitors alike.)
  3. A fire destroyed the church next door, so any church records from that period are also destroyed. It is unlikely that Crowley would have been involved, save perhaps once or twice for his own curiosity and amusement, but I had hoped perhaps there had been at least some period photos of the area.
  4. There are no known accounts (journals, etc.) kept by contemporary residents either of Adams or Crowley.


More to come as I come across it!

Searching for Prudence

The four virtues of classical philosophy as codified by Cicero are Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance, originating with Plato and later adapted into the seven theological virtues of the Christian faith with the inclusion of “faith, hope, and charity (love).” [1] While Justice and Temperance jump out at one immediately as trumps in the Tarot, and recognition of the Strength card’s earlier designation as Fortitude fills in another gap, Prudence is left largely unaddressed. It seems impossible that only three of the four made it into the deck, so where is Prudence?

We have a few options:

  1. The card never existed.
  2. The card existed but was lost/removed at some point in history.
  3. The exists as a differently named variant, much like the Strength card.

I suggest that the first option is least likely, as the inclusion of the other three show a pattern of interest in the classical virtues being part of the trump series. It’s also the least interesting to consider, since if one accepts this proposal the remainder of the discussion becomes moot!

It is entirely possible that the card existed at some point but was subsequently redacted – omitted in error at some point along the way and lost to history. If so, until we recover the lost card, we must consider that it was either replaced by another card or represents a twenty-third card in the deck – and wouldn’t that prove meddlesome for their Kabbalistic associations! This once more proves a dead-end unless we are willing to manufacture a card of our own imagining.

Lastly, we may consider that the card was – like Strength (Fortitude) – renamed. If so, then how do we identify it? Fortunately, we do have some help in this. The three known cards associated with the Virtues all adhere to the standard classical representations of their related idea. The classical representation of Strength/Fortitude is often shown as a figure with a lion, that of Justice with scales and a sword, and that of Temperance with two jars, one of water and one of wine. These all align with the traditional images of the cards in the Tarot. Thus, we might look to the classical representation of Prudence to guide us, shown as a figure with a book, scroll, and/or mirror. It is also interesting to note that these images were always female, which is traditionally so for Strength/Fortitude, and arguably so for Temperance, with the evolving image of Justice being masculine explained by simple male-dominated cultural influence. The idea of “lady justice” – as shown with her representation in the Statue of Liberty – comes quickly to mind, as well, so we can interpret this card as feminine. [2]

This leaves us looking for a feminine card, or one that could be supported as such, among the cards that has a book, scroll, and/or mirror. One that fits this description is The High Priestess: a woman seated on a throne with a scroll or book in her hands. That’s a great start, but hardly definitive proof. What else can we use to determine the missing Prudence?

In observing the cards as they fall into place through the numbered tarot, there is a pattern of a Virtue, two cards, then a Virtue. We have Strength (8), two cards (Hermit, Fortune), Justice (11), two cards (Hanged Man, Death), and Temperance (14). Thus, if we extend the pattern, we could consider two cards preceding (Lovers, Chariot) and The Hierophant (5), or the two cards following (Devil, Tower) and The Star/Firmament (17).[3] The Hierophant seems a stretch as inherently masculine, while the image of The Star/Firmament is of course a female. However, her imagery does not match that of Prudence in any way, and is in fact closer to that of the already-identified Temperance.[4]

Have we now struck out? Possibly, but there is another consideration. If we accept that The High Priestess – aka the Female Pope or Papess – does match the imagery of Prudence, then switching her position with The Hierophant (or Pope) would align her as Prudence in sequence with the remaining series. In other words, she would appear as Prudence, then two cards (Lovers, Chariot), then Justice (or Strength), and so on. Considering that they represent masculine and feminine aspects of the same faculty, we now have a female figure that matches the classical imagery of Prudence in a position leading the pattern of Virtues in the trumps. Improving this argument is that Cicero’s listing of the four Virtues is in order Prudence, Justice, Courage, and Temperance, which is exactly the order given in the Tarot trumps if one ignores Mather’s inversion of Strength/Justice.

Now, those of you who study Tarot and its (albeit manufactured) attributions will revolt at this thought, as it implies that The High Priestess must be associated with the astrological sign of Taurus in order to maintain the sequence of the Zodiac beginning with Aries in The Emperor (4). This further means that The Hierophant must be associated with the moon, and while one could argue that the Isis-Bull-Taurus association is as good a fit as any for The High Priestess (Prudence), it is more of an intellectual leap to associate The Hierophant with the moon.

So, have we found Prudence? I think so, at least for the moment, embodied by The High Priestess whose title could have been modified in the time period in which these decks first appeared given the emergence and popularity of the “Pope Joan” legend at that time. A greater problem lies in accepting the re-ordering of the cards and its impact on their current astrological, planetary and elemental attributions, a consensus on which I suspect would not be soon forthcoming even were the evidence more concrete. (Tradition, after all, holds strong to the guise of accepted fact.) However, I think there is sufficient evidence for further consideration, and something I hope to look into further.

Dear Prudence, won’t you come out to play? – The Beatles

[1] I find it interesting that the later virtues of faith, hope, and charity do not appear at Tarot trumps, given the known history of the emergence of the Tarot in Renaissance Europe. No, the Tarot is not Egyptian, which is a fanciful attribution carried forward through the early 1900s. This arises from Court de Gebelin’s claim, but I strongly suspect he was saying such as a blind for the trumps’ association with Alchemy, or “al khemia” – meaning “from Khem (Egypt).”

[2] Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot further identifies this card with the female Egyptian goddess Maat. So, in short, the figure represented in Justice is female, despite what your deck might show to the contrary – e.g. Rider-Waite.

[3] Mather’s reversal of Strength and Justice is of no concern here, as they are both Virtues and would affect the order, but not the pattern.

[4] The Star/Firmament can be seen as once again separating the liquids combined by Temperance, in fact. It is thus an alchemical image of distillation – some liquid returning and other liquid discarded. The earlier Visconti/Sforza decks do not bear out this imagery, however, merely showing a woman holding a star.

The Ars Notoria of Fredrick Hockley

Teitan Press has just released a Hockley edition of the Ars Notoria, or The Notary Art of Solomon. Often known as “that other book at the end of Lemegeton, or The Lesser Key of Solomon,” it is my hope that this release begins the arduous and long overdue task of placing this work in its true and rightful position within the study of Solomonic magic.

The Ars Notoria consists of a number of orations whose constant and devout rehearsal purport to bring the aspirant the knowledge of various arts and sciences. Typical of the genre, it includes a number of the “barbarous names of evocation” to empower their efficacy, and it is given mention by name in Goetia – a likely reason for its inclusion in some of the known collections of Lemegeton.

While one can certainly obtain a copy of the Ars Notoria through a number of sources, it is the introductory materials that – to me – make this particular edition all the more appealing. Firstly, noted Hockley scholar Alan Thorogood supplies an exceptionally well-researched introduction to the text, its history, and Hockley’s own impressions of it. Citing and building on relatively recent research on the Ars Notoria and its variant stemma, his insights are worth the price of admission alone.

As Hockley was transcribing from the published edition of this work in 1657 by Robert Turner – who also produced the best known English-language translations of Heptameron and the pseudo-Agrippan Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy – it is worth some time in detailing the life of that man as well, which Robin Cousins does admirably in his own preface, building on his own prior work and research. (For those of you that may raise an eyebrow at a manuscript copy of a printed work, this was in fact quite common, though less so in the mid-nineteenth century in which Hockley was working.)

The transcription itself is very well laid out, a difficult feat in and of itself given the format of the work, and it includes a facsimile of the manuscript in Hockley’s neat and well-practiced  hand. As anyone that has spent time transcribing manuscripts can attest, a legible hand is nearly unheard of, as most were creating these manuscripts for themselves and as such did not concern themselves if anyone else might like to read it!

In all, this is an exceptionally well-done volume that expands not only on the corpus of Solomonic literature, but also the scope of Hockley’s contributions to that study. Teitan has released a number of Hockley works over the years, and this is a welcome addition.

Hardcover (black with gold), small quarto, appx. 300pp. Issued as a limited edition of 650 copies. $60 US.

The Book of Oberon

In the event that you are interested in grimoires and have been living under a rock, on top of a mountain, or on a completely different planet, the much anticipated release of The Book of Oberon has now arrived. Published by Llewellyn and authored by notable scholars Daniel Harms, Joseph Peterson, and James R. Clark, who did the illustrations, this book is a thorough presentation and examination of Folger MS V.b.26, a manuscript on magic now held in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.

The volume is wonderfully done, weighing in at a substantial near-600 pages, hardbound and gold-gilt on the front and spine with a beautiful dust jacket bearing the seal of the Mercurii (an early nineteenth-century magical group operating in England whose membership at one time possessed the manuscript). The very idea of the project is daunting in and of itself, given the broad scope and size of a manuscript that contains parts of Heptameron, Enchiridion, Sepher Raziel, The Offices of Spirits, and the Key of Solomon, and it has been well-executed. A great deal of translation from the Latin has been done, presented side-by-side with the original, and all of the images have been re-drawn (by Clark).

My own specific interest in this work (aside from a general interest in manuscripts of the sort) comes from my investigations into goetic work The Offices of Spirits, contained in this manuscript as the earliest known version. I published a later variant of that work by Fredrick Hockley under that same title in 2011 (which I may add is also still in print!), so I was very interested to see what further research had been done and was not disappointed. They were able to fill in a number of missing pieces that I had not uncovered, which is precisely the sort of scholarship we have all come to expect from them.

I look forward to getting further into this volume over the days to come, and I expect this to be an exceptional and ultimately collectable work. You should, too.

Secret Writing

Trithemius’ crypto-magical work Steganogaphia has been calling to me over the last year or so, but I hadn’t the time to really dig up a copy. This work existed in manuscript form since approximately 1500, and had its first printing in Frankfurt in 1606. Many of the English language versions, and even Latin versions by British hands, contain only the first and third (of three) chapters, somewhat inexplicably but ultimately as a result of the source text in the British Library consisting only of these. Fortunately, Google Books comes to the rescue with a full 1608 edition, being a copy of the digital version from the Bavarian State Library. (Their stamp is clearly visible.)

At any rate, I expect to start transcribing it shortly. Once that’s complete, I’ll start thinking about translation, but one daunting task at a time…

My interest in this work stems from John Dee’s own interest, as well as a personal fascination with Trithemius as a part of the early Renaissance’s intellectual debate on the various forms and functions of magic – as well as the surrounding doctrinal debate.

Dee famously writes William Cecil in 1563 that a thousand crowns had been offered for Steganographia to no avail, but he had finally managed to obtain a copy while traveling on the continent. What I didn’t know until a bout of insomnia had me researching at two in the morning was that Dee’s manuscript copy of Steganographia has survived and is in the National Library of Wales as Peniarth MS 423D – also now digitized and available! This MS has only recently been recognized as being in Dee’s handwriting, and how it got back to Wales is unknown (at least to me). The reference material on the website gives a short overview of Daniel Huws’ work on this recognition.

I look forward to comparing this with the 1608 printed edition, given that Dee’s manuscript copy predates it by 45 years. If anyone is aware of any older copy, let me know!

Mr. Spencer’s Cube

I was re-reading Crowley’s Initiated Interpretation of Ceremonial Magic in the front matter of his 1904 edition of Goetia for something around the seven hundredth time yesterday. In it, he mentions “Mr. Spencer’s Projected Cube”, something I had never taken the time to research. Until, well… yesterday.

First, I did know that it referred to Herbert Spencer, the eminent philosopher and ardent evolutionary proponent of the Victorian Era. In doing some further digging, the reference made is to Spencer’s The Principles of Psychology, Volume Two, in a section entitled “Transfigured Realism”. It describes the potentially distorted relation between the perceived and the perceiver, where the shadow of a cube is projected against a cylindrical surface. [pp. 494-499]

The cube, in the analogy, represents the actual object being perceived, while the cylinder is the perceiving consciousness. The shadow of the cube, whose form is distorted and elongated against the receding edge of the cylinder, represents the perception of the object. So, in short, nothing perceived is necessarily as it seems! Metaphysics at its finest.

Crowley mentions Spencer’s cube explicitly in reference to the seals of the spirits, which presumably represents the “shadow/perception” of the spirit, if I am to read it correctly. I don’t know if I agree with the analogy, but there it is nonetheless.