Books of Black Magic

20160803_210246 The Book of Ceremonial Magic – Arthur Edward Waite
Bell – 1969 (First published in 1898 as The Book of Black Magic and Pacts)
Imagine, if you will, a man who takes it upon himself to read a bunch of cooky books on black magic and then proceeds to write about how utterly silly they are and how stupid the people who believe in them must be…  Sounds like a real cool guy, right? I’m referring, of course, to Mr. Arthur Edward Waite. Waite, famous for creating the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, is the author of this rather interesting book on grimoires, spirits, ceremonial magic and infernal necromancy.

Waite’s writing style can be painfully long-winded and academic, and nowhere is this as apparent as the headache-inducing introduction to this work. I don’t have a fucking clue what it’s about, and I would recommend that you skip it. Aleister Crowley, who is going to pop up a few times in this post, had a personal dislike for Waite and modeled Arthwait, one of the characters in Moonchild, on him. In chapter 12 of that novel, Crowley says; “Arthwait was naturally slow of thought and speech; it took him some time to warm up to real eloquence; and then he became so long-winded, and lost himself so completely in his words and phrases, that he would speak for many hours without conveying a single idea of any kind to his hearers, or even having one to convey.” Keep in mind too that Crowley himself was pretty bad for talking absolute shite.

 

Some of the minor illustrations within.

That being said, if you manage to slog through the intro, there’s lots of juicy stuff in here. The first half of the book gives the backstories to the most infamous grimoires. Waite breaks them down into three categories: books of transcendental magic – the least bad kind of magic, composite rituals – slightly sketchy magic, and black magic rituals – the purely diabolical. He goes into a satisfying amount of detail on the supposed origins of each text while also supplying his own opinions about their likely dates and places of origin.

The second part of Waite’s book, the Complete Grimoire, is basically all the good bits of the different texts that are discussed in the first half. It lists all the necessary precautions and steps you’ll need to take if you plan on summoning a demon to do your bidding.

20160803_210738Is this image over used? Waite and I agree that it’s not.

Waite’s overall stance is that Black Magic is really dumb and that these books are all forgeries for idiots. You’d wonder why he bothered writing a book about something that he had such disdain for. (If you’re a long term reader of my blog, you’ll remember that I said almost the exact same thing about his translation of Eliphas Levi’s book, Transcendental Magic.) He seems to have enjoyed making fun of gobshite occultists.  Good lad, Waite.

I simultaneously read this along with some of the grimoires that it’s about, and hence the second half seemed quite repetitive to me. The scope of this book is broad enough that it could serve as an introduction to the topic, but the writing is probably a bit too dense for casual readers. You can always check it out online to see if it’s what you want before buying a copy. Personally, I really enjoyed reading it.

 

20160803_210305The Goetia – Translated by Samuel Liddell Macgregor Mathers, edited by Aleister Crowley, and supposedly written by King Solomon.
Weiser – 1995
This edition was first published in 1904.
Original edition of the Lemegeton compiled mid 17th century.
Text purports to be from 10th century BC.

The Key of Solomon, perhaps the most famous grimoire, is supposedly a set of magic spells left by King Solomon. The Lesser Key of Solomon, or the Lemegeton, is its dirty sequel. (Although sequel might not be the correct word here. It’s more like when a band releases a collection of crap songs and covers that weren’t good enough to make it onto their last album; the Lemegeton is the Reload of Solomonic grimoires.) The Goetia is the first of four (or five, depending on who you ask) sections of the Lesser Key. It was translated by Samuel Liddell MacGregor Matthews, head of the Golden Dawn, and published by his protégé, Aleister Crowley, although by the time this was published, Mathers and Crowley were no longer friends. It has the usual crap about drawing fancy triangles on the floor and all of that nonsense, but most interestingly, it contains the names and details of 72 demons (most of which come from Weyer’s Pseudomonarchia Daemonum). This edition also includes several of Louis Le Breton’s drawings that originally appeared in the second edition of Collin De Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal.

20160803_211006One of Louis Le Breton’s drawings of a demon, accompanied by Crowley’s version.

This is mildly entertaining to flick through, but the most interesting parts are included in Waite’s book. If you have Waite’s book, this book will only be interesting if you’re a big Crowley fan. The physical book is quite nice, as Weiser editions usually are, and it contains some introductory essays by and about Mr. Crowley. In my opinion, the best parts of this text are the pictures that Crowley drew of the demons:

 

Notice any patterns?


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The Grand Grimoire: Being a Sourcebook of Magical Incidents and Diabolical Pacts
Compiled by Darcy Kuntz
Supposedly written by Antonio Venitiana del Rabina and King Solomon.
Holmes Publishing – 2008
Source material exists from 1521, 1522, and 1421.
Text purports to be from 10th century BC.

Now, this is it; the boldest and most infamous of all grimoires. Like the Goetia, the Grand Grimoire has its roots in Solomonic ceremonial magic. The first half gives instructions on how to summon Lucifuge Rofocale, Satan’s right-hand man, and the second half is about how to summon other demons.

20160803_210901 Lucifer and his entourage don’t really come across as super scary in this one.

I bought this book a long time ago, but the first few times I picked it up to read through it, I became confused by the introduction. The title of the edition I bought is “The Grand Grimoire. Being a Source Book of Magical Incidents and Diabolical Pacts“. There’s no blurb on the back, and there is very little information about this edition online. All of these factors led me to think that it might actually be a book about the book that I wanted to read.  I sent a message to Darcy Kuntz, the editor, on Goodreads, but he never responded to me. However, after looking through it and doing a bit of research, I have figured out that this is a version of the Grand Grimoire and not just a book about that text.

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The bulk of this edition is a word for word transcription of the edition of the Grand Grimoire that our friend, A.E. Waite, published in the June 15, 1895 edition of his magazine, the Unknown World. (How fucking awesome is it that those scans are online?!? The Grand Grimoire starts on the 35th page of the pdf.) Kuntz’s book also includes some passages taken from Waite’s Book of Ceremonial Magic. The confusing introduction of this edition of the Grand Grimoire is a mash-up of the introduction in Waite’s magazine and some other sources. Entire phrases are lifted from the entry on the Grand Grimoire in Lewis Spence’s Encylopedia of Occultism, to which no references are given. Tut-tut, Mr Kuntz. Your name says it all! Plagiarism aside, I just wish the introduction had been a little clearer about how the book had been compiled. Then again, maybe the organisation was deliberately awkward to give off a more genuine grimoire experience. Summoning Belzebuth just wouldn’t be the same if the instructions you were following  were organized in a coherent order!

There are other parts in Latin or Italian that Kuntz claims were taken from a source titled “Le Grand Grimoire“, but he doesn’t elaborate on what this source was or how it differs from Waite’s translation. I have found a pdf of a more complete translation than Waite’s. This version includes an English translation of the Sanctum Regnum section, although the Citatio Praedictorum Spiritum section remains in Latin in both the pdf and Kuntz’s edition. The pdf version also includes a third section which is made up of other “magic secrets”, including the method of raising the dead that Eliphas Levi alluded to in the chapter on Necromancy in his Rituals of Transcendental Magic. (LET THE DEAD RISE FROM THEIR TOMBS!) What’s interesting about the inclusion of this ritual is the fact that Waite actually claims that Levi made it up. In chapter IX of the Complete Grimoire, he claims that this ritual “must be given on the authority of Lévi; for no available editions of the work which is in question, nor yet of the Red Dragon, nor indeed any ritual of my acquaintance, contains it. There is reasonable probability that he invented it to make out his case at the moment.” I know that the pdf version is definitely worded differently to Kuntz’s version, so either it is a different translation or it was based on another manuscript of the grimoire. If it was based on another text, maybe that text is the one that Levi had read. Then again, maybe somebody read Levi and decided to add his bit onto the end because they thought it was cool; I certainly did. This is the problem with pdf versions; you don’t really know how genuine they are. (It’s bit sad when you contemplate that you’ve spent hours of your life researching the authenticity of an online edition of a translation of a forgery.)

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This is the lad who shows up if you perform the ritual of the Black Hen correctly.

Other things to note regarding the compilation of the pdf version:
One of the spells, “The Secret of the Black Hen”, was mentioned in Waite’s book, wherein he suggests that it was a late addition to the Red Dragon (another name for the Grand Grimoire).  The pdf also includes several spells from the Grimorium Verum, including instructions on “HOW TO CAUSE THE APPEARANCE OF THREE LADIES OR THREE GENTLEMEN IN ONE’S ROOM AFTER SUPPER”. There’s also another short section on commonly held superstitions that ends with the statement, “I have related these beliefs to amuse our readers but not to obligate the readers to believe all of them because they are mostly nonsense”. This pdf edition seems to be a compilation of different bits and pieces from a variety of grimoires and books about grimoires. It’s still pretty cool though; some of the spells at the end are grizzlier (and often far sillier/funnier) than the first two parts of the “authentic” text.

If you know anything about the compilation of the different versions of the Grand Grimoire, please leave a comment below or email me.

* * * *

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I have other grimoires in my collection, both books and pdfs, and I’ll doubtlessly get around to them at some stage. I suppose I’ve talked more about the actual books and what they’re composed of than the efficacy of what’s actually written within. It’s hard to imagine somebody reading through these texts and trying to carry out the rituals, but I’m sure that attempts have been made. I think that the tasks described in these books, although ludicrously tedious and difficult, are less likely to prevent somebody from attempting the rituals than is the fundamental problem of Black Ceremonial Magic addressed by Waite: these rituals require the sorcerer to supplicate God to give them control over evil demons in order that they may perform evil deeds. Why would an all-knowing, fundamentally good, God grant such a request? Also, in the grander rituals in which one of the rulers of Hell is evoked, the instructions given allow the sorcerer to essentially trick the demon into doing his/her bidding. These are not instructions on how to make a Faustian pact; it is expected that the sorcerer will get away without paying for the demon’s services. How many times would the demons fall for this kind of trickery before they cop on? Personally, I wouldn’t fuck about with a demon. It’s only polite to pay for what you’re given.

Necronomicon – Abdul Alhazred/Simon

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Avon – 1980

Well, I finally got around to reading it; the purported Necronomicon of the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred.  If you haven’t heard of the Necronomicon, that means that you haven’t seen Evil Dead or read Lovecraft. It makes me sick to think of the uninitiated reading my blog, but luckily enough, this book contains a Most Excellent Charm against Hordes of N00bz:

Turn around, go, arise and go far away!
Your wickedness may rise like heaven unto smoke!
Arise and leave my blog!
Be commanded by Shammash the Mighty!
Be commanded by Marduk, the Great Magician of the Gods!
Be commanded by the God of Fire, your Destroyer!
From my blog depart in shame!

Now that only the adepts remain, let’s have a look at this ancient text of necromancy and forbidden ritual!

Well, it’s not really ancient, and the rituals aren’t as much forbidden as they are silly. There’s a million accounts of the story of this book online, but I’ll summarize for my readers. In the mid 70s, a lad calling himself Simon claimed that he had come across a copy of the Necronomicon, a fictional book that had appeared several times in the short stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Simon managed to get the book published, but he refused to ever go public, and nobody has ever seen the actual manuscript. Despite this, lots of people did and do think that this is the real deal. (There are some really embarrassing youtube videos of people defending the book’s authenticity.) I think the strongest evidence for the book’s legitimacy is actually how much it sucks; if I was going to write a fake Necronomicon, I would make it far, far nastier. This is basically a version of the Babylonian creation myth with a few Kutulus and ridiculous sigils thrown in to make it a bit spookier. One part of the book lists the 50 names and Seals of Marduk, and some of them are fucking ridiculous looking.

Asaru looks like a little nerd.
baalprik
And Shazu both looks and sounds like a magician’s pet gorilla.
shaavu
“Tutu” is another one of Marduk’s aliases. Yeah. Tutu.

The thing that really gives it away for me is the fact that the book reads like a Lovecraft story. It begins with a lad talking about how afraid he is of the horrors that he has awoken and proceeds to give a detailed account of how he awoke those horrors. He speaks passionately about how dangerous it would be for anyone else to read the information that he has been writing down. The manuscript is compiled of several different texts, all of which relate to each other and further the narrative, and the book ends with the narrator describing the evil things that he can see approaching him as he finishes writing the manuscript… Come on lads, that formula seems a little familiar doesn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong; I liked the fact that it was Lovecrafty, and I think that this is a quaint little addition to my weird fiction collection, but I’m definitely glad that I didn’t pay very much for my copy. The book is more than 200 pages, but about half of it is taken up with silly squiggly pictures. The testimonies of the Mad Arab were definitely the funnest parts. Were I out to cast some spells and summon some demons, I would probably be fairly disappointed with this. Then again, there is the very valid argument that this text is as “authentic” as most other grimoires. You’d have to be a bit of a wanker to take it seriously either way.

I’ve been watching that new Ash Vs Evil Dead series, and I have to say that it’s awesome. Opening the series with a Deep Purple song was utter genius! I’m going to go and watch the latest episode now. I’ll probably end up annoying my wife with some of my recently acquired Necronomicon trivia.

 

I found this post-it note tucked between pages when I opened it. Kutulu, enlightenment and Diana Ross; I’ll bet there was a story behind this one!!!

Demonology Past and Present by Kurt Koch and Satan, Satanism and Witchcraft by Richard W. DeHaan

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Well it’s Halloween today, and I thought I had better make a post to give you something to read before the trick-or-treaters come to set fire to your cat. Here’s a review of the two books that I have managed to read since September. Enjoy!

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Demonology Past and Present – Kurt Koch
Kregel -1973

Satan, Satanism and Witchcraft – Richard W. DeHaan
Zondervan – 1972

These ones aren’t just shitty books; they’re actually shit books. I have barely any free time anymore, and so I have to limit my leisure reading to my Sunday morning craps. Being in school has made it so that those holiest of moments on the Sabbath are now my only opportunity to read about Satan without feeling irresponsible. (I used to limit my toilet reading to the collection of Poe’s poems that I kept under the bathroom sink. Whenever my phone was out of battery and I couldn’t play solitaire while pinching a loaf, I would treat myself to an old ‘Edgar Allan Poo’.)

As you have probably guessed, these two books are awful. They came as part of a collection I purchased a few years ago from a hippy lady in the suburbs. She was selling a collection of 6 books, only 2 of which I actually wanted to read. I have since read and reviewed all 4 of the books that I was not interested in, but the ones I wanted have remained on the shelf. Anyways, both of these books deal with the topic of Satanism from a Christian point of view, and unsurprisingly, they are both repulsively stupid.

Let’s consider the authors for a moment. One of them is named Kurt Koch. Old Kurty is a classic case of “Koch by name; Koch by nature”. And what about his companion; Mr. Richard W. DeHaan? Well, they say that a picture speaks a thousand words, but the below picture only seems to repeat the word ‘wanker’ a thousand times.
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As i have probably mentioned elsewhere, I find it fascinating to read  the ideas of people who take each word of the Bible as being literally true. Let’s be completely honest here; 99% of the time, when a non-christian comes into contact with a christian, the non christian can instantly be sure of the fact that they are more intelligent than the christian. Oftentimes though, we can give the christian the benefit of the doubt;  although the person claims to be a christian, it can be safely assumed that they have not actually read the bible. When a person has actually read the bible and still claims to be a christian, you can safely infer that that person is an imbecile of the lowest order. To all whom encounter them, rubes of this variety seem to be entirely incapable of thinking critically.

On closer inspection though, these people are capable of a form of critical thinking. Unfortunately, the logic on which they base their thought is both flawed and perverse. Instead of using reason to reason, they use fear, prejudice and a unhealthy splash of utter nonsense. The authors of these two books are particularly fond of this approach. They weave a web of dogma around the topics of Satan and Satanism, and make themselves look like a pair of proper fools. One of the big points that both authors push is that many people who are having problems with their mental health are actually possessed by a demon and more in need of an exorcist than a psychologist or a doctor! My favourite argument that is put forth in either of these books though, is DeHaans argument for the consistency of the Bible’s attitude towards witchcraft. There has always been a bit of a problem with this issue; despite the infamous “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” rule, there are actually quite a few witchy characters in the bible. There is a particular incident in Genesis when Jacob plays with some sticks to alter the appearance of the lambs being born to Laban’s flock. (Gen 30:37-43) He peels patterns into the bark on some sticks, and the animals who mate near the sticks will give birth to offspring with a similar pattern on their fur. Now let’s think about that for a moment. If a woman were to  have attempted something similar to this 500 years ago, she would almost definitely have been burnt as a witch. If somebody was to do something similar in the 1970s, the authors of these books would likely have attempted to perform an exorcism on them. How then does DeHaan get around the fact that Jacob, grandson of Abraham himself, was a dirty, occulting, sorcerer? Well, it turns out that God was actually trolling Jacob; he had organised the sheep to mate a certain way, and Jacob’s twigs never had any effect. Therefore, the sticks were a waste of time and Jacob hadn’t actually done magic. That’s fair enough, but DeHaan seems to think that this gets Jacob off the hook; however, it doesn’t change the fact that Jacob attempted to do magic. Just because he was a shit sorcerer doesn’t mean he wasn’t a sorcerer. It’s all about intent, you fucking dope DeHaan. (On a depressing side note, I just looked it up, and it seems that many people are still seriously discussing the tenability of Jacob’s approach to genetic engineering.) DeHaan’s twisted defenses of other biblical witches are just as unsatisfying, but this is hardly surprising. He is stretching the prim, white blanket of reason over an awkward, shit-brown, virulent mass of obtuse, dogmatic rubbish.

There was one cool part of DeHaan’s book where he lists some other books that you shouldn’t read. I haven’t heard of these, and maybe he made them up, but I’m sure as hell going to keep an eye out for them in the future. Let me know if you have copies!!!
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To conclude; these two books were truly moronic. Don’t waste your time with this kind of crap unless you’re crapping. School is really getting intense now, so it’ll probably be another little while before I post anything else. In the meantime, have a good Halloween, listen to metal, worship Satan and remember to keep it anti-christian!

Dictionary of Witchcraft – Collin De Plancy

Philosophical Library – 1965

This was a very disappointing purchase. I bought my copy online and never had the chance to look through the book before buying it. Based on the title, I naively presumed that this book would be a translation of Dictionnaire Infernal by De Plancy. I was mostly wrong.
Instead of a straight forward translation of the Dictionnaire Infernal, this book is largely an alphabetized list of French witches. Some of the entries are vaguely entertaining, but none of them are particularly believable. I liked the entry on Tanchelin:

In 1125 a heretic named Tanchelin was revered to such a degree in some provinces that people drank his urine and preserved his excrement as a relic. The money that came to him…enabled him to have good food and superb service. Fathers begged him to sleep with their daughters and wives.

That’s all it says. This is certainly a valuable nugget of information, but there’s no mention of Tanchelin’s witchy heresies! (I googled him. His name was Tanchelm, his heresies weren’t particularly wicked and he was dead by 1115.)

Now I’m not one to get upset when a book isn’t convincing, but this book isn’t merely unconvincing; it’s deceiving. It actually refers to itself as ‘The Dictionary of Demonology’ in Wade Baskin’s introduction, and then on the very next page it uses the title ‘The Dictionary of Witchcraft’. The slightly embarrassing entry on the book’s own author mentions, ‘this dictionary, of which the first edition appeared in two volumes in 1818’ (1818 being the year Dictionnaire Infernal was published!), and also specifically references the book as the ‘second edition of the Dictionary of Demonology’. In 1965 the Philosophical Library publishing company  released this book and a different book titled ‘Dictionary of Demonology’.   Perhaps Baskin was trying to recreate the ‘two volume’ feel of the 1818 edition of the book and purposely split the entries into the categories of witchcraft and demonology. That would be acceptable if it was actually alluded to somewhere in this book. Baskin’s shitty editing makes it all the more irritating.

I can’t be entirely sure if the books are a pair; the other book costs far more than this one, and I’m not willing to risk another expensive disappointment. Also, it’s difficult to compare the entries in this piece of crap with the French text online. It is a translated dictionary after all. I know I’ve written a lot about this frustrating inconvenience, but I couldn’t find any discussion on this topic and I’d love to hear from anyone who could clear up this confusion.

To add insult to my frustration, I noticed that the covers of the two books differ slightly. In every image that I have found online, the Dictionary of Witchcraft has a purple rectangle and the Dictionary of Demonology has a blue rectangle.

My Dictionary of Witchcraft has a blue rectangle…

Overall I’ll give it 4/10. It was more trouble than it was worth but still fun.

I also have a copy of the Dictionary of Satanism by Wade Baskin that was published by the same company. I might review that if I manage to forgive Baskin.

(October 2016 update: The mystery over this publication and its mysterious companion has now been solved. Dictionary of Demonology is word-for-word the same book as the Dictionary of Witchcraft. Click here for full details.)