Fama Fraternitatis - 1614

Wiewohl wir nun wohl wissen, daß es umb ein ziemliches noch nicht an dem, da wieder unserm Verlangen oder auch anderer Hoffnung mit allgemeiner Reformation divini et humani, solle genug geschehen, ist es doch nicht unbillich, daß, ehe die Sonne auffgehet, sie zuvor ein HELL oder dunkel liecht in den Himmel bringt und unter dessen etliche wenige, die sich werden angeben, zusammen tretten, unsere Fraternitet mit der Zahl und Ansehen des gewünschten und von Fr.R.C. fürgeschriebenen Philosophischen Canons, einen glücklichen Anfang machen oder ja in unserer Schätz (die uns nimmermehr aufgehen können) mit uns in Demut und Liebe genießen die Mühsamkeit dieser Welt überzuckern und in den Wunderwerken Gottes nicht also blind umbgehen.

Vi vet dock att det enligt vår åstundan och andras förväntningar efter någon tid kommer en allmän reformation av både gudomliga och mänskliga ting. Ty innan solen går upp, upplyses himlen av
MORGONRODNADENS ljus. I väntan på denna reformation församlas några få som med sitt antal skall utöka vårt brödraskap, höja dess anseende och stärka dess förhoppningar och ge de av Fr.R.C. föreskrivna Filosofiska Canons en lycklig begynnelse. I all ödmjukhet och kärlek skall dessa nytillkomna tillsammans med oss dela våra skatter, som aldrig skall förgås, och så lindra denna världens möda och inte längre vandra ovetande om kunskapen om Guds underbara verk.

Howbeit we know after a time there will now be a general reformation, both of divine and humane things, according to our desire, and the expectation of others: for it is fitting, that before the rising of the Sun, there should appear and break forth AURORA, or some clearness, or divine light in the sky; and so in the mean time some few, which shall give their names, may joyn together, thereby to increase the number and respect of our Fraternity, and make a happy and wished for beginning of our Philosophical Canons, prescribed to us by our brother R.C. and be partakers with us of our treasures (which never can fail or be wasted) in all humility, and love to be eased of this worlds labor, and not walk so blindly in the knowledge of the wonderful works of God.


Det brittiska ordenssällskapet Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn och den tyska Frimurarlogen L'Aurore Naissante, vilket grundades i London 1888 respektive Frankfurt-am-Main 1807, delade på samma hebreiska namn Chevrah Zerach Bequr Aur, förevisat i gyllene gult vid bloggens huvud, vilket ordagrannt kan översättas till “Stigande Gryningsljusets Sällskap”. Denna tyska Rosenkorsiska Frimurarloge i Frankfurt, vilket måste anses vara det ursprungliga modertemplet till GOLDEN DAWN, kallade sig på tyska även Loge sur Aufgehenden Morgenröthe, vilket kan översättas till “Gryende Morgonrodnadens Loge”. Detta skiljer sig åt från den engelska seden att översätta orden Bequr Aur till “Golden Dawn” eller “Gyllene Gryningen”. Med anledning av Rosenkorstraditionens tyska ursprung är en mer korrekt översättning av Bequr Aur, genom franskans L'Aurore Naissante och tyskans Aufgehenden Morgenröthe, inget annat än GRYENDE MORGONRODNADEN. Denna hänvisning till ett stigande gryningsljus, morgonrodnad eller aurora är en klar hänvisning till den allmäna reformationen omnämnt i det ovan citerade stycket från Fama Fraternitatis. Denna blogg har dock valt att behålla den försvenskade anglo-saxiska termen GYLLENE GRYNINGEN för att denna, invand som den är, lättare associeras med den Rosenkorsiska tradition som här ämnas att framställas.

Licht, Leben, Liebe

torsdag 31 december 2009

Genie or Genius?


Since me reading the Grand Key of Solomon the King and about the subject of jinn, the Arabian concept of spirits or supramundane beings, I have been pondering it further. I have also been corresponding with Adepts of the Arabian Magical Tradition who have helped me to sort out and understand the distinction between humans, angels, demons, the jinn and the ruhaniayyh or ruhaniah, within the Arabian context.

It is my firm belief that existence on the supramundane levels are equal and alike regardless of culture or geography, and that each culture and nation applies its own peculiar belief system and mythology to describe these extrasensory phenomena. Thus I have a perennial view upon spirituality and firmly believe that many of the different traditions and paradigms actually are explaining the same thing, but by using different languages. This is also my perspective in this essay – to blast down the Tower of Babel.

First I will try to describe the Arabic concept and significance of the jinn and ruhaniayyh, as I have understood my Arabian brethren and other sources on the Internet (mainly Wikipedia). Lets start off with the latter. In my review of the Grand Key of Solomon I linked the word “ruhaniyyah” etymologically to the Hebrew word “Ruah” or spirit. I further said that it was equivalent in meaning to the Sanskrit word “prana” or the Greek “pneuma”, and that it could be regarded as the equivalent of “intelligences”, as this word is used within the context of the Golden Dawn to describe certain entities corresponding with the Planets.

Now this word in Aramaic and Hebrew is Ruchanioth and is a name mentioned in the “Yetziratic” text of the 32 paths of Wisdom, relating to the 19th Path. Here it is said that (my emphasis):
The Nineteenth Path is the Intelligence of all the activities of the spiritual beings, and is so called because of the affluence diffused by it from the most high blessing and most exalted sublime glory.
The ancient Arabic Sages believed that all objects or units of life emanates a spiritual intelligence, which is akin to the ethereal double and thus can be separated from the object to which it is attached. As an example a plant has a ruhaniyyah, or spiritual being, as well as a lake has one, or a Planet (such as Luna), or an animal. And also a human. And these spiritual emanations coming from all objects are alive, intelligent and conscious. It is not a spiritual entity connected by correspondence to that object; it is that object, or rather the spiritual double of the physical object.

I have been told that there exists ruhaniyyah not only of the Planets but also of the Elements, and of the letters, the latter being the most powerful. Furthermore, when the psychical object perishes, the ruhaniyyah returns to its source, i.e. God. Man is born with a ruhaniyyah, which may become perfected and transformed into the Higher Self or Higher Soul (to use terms from the Golden Dawn tradition). In Arabian parlance this perfected and Higher Soul or Self is called al-Taba or al-Kamel (“Perfect Nature”).

Thus I interpret the ruhaniyyah of a human as his soul, his innate nature, and his essence. And this soul may according to the Hermetics and Alchemy become a vessel of the Higher. I have been told that in magical working the Arabian Adept tries to harmonize his ruhaniyyah with that of the force he is invoking; he harmonizes his soul with the soul of the Moon in a Luna working, to take but one example. Likewise the Adept harmonizes himself with the soul of the Angel in an angelical working, etc. Thus as there are the ruhaniyyah of humans there are also the ruhaniyyah of angels, and that of jinn, etc.

To return to the concept of the ruach, prana or pneuma, the ruhaniyyah thus is the life force that animates all living physical beings, as “…the IHVH Elohim formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Gen. 2:7). Therefore I surmise that the ruhaniyyah is related to the self (or Ruach) and the Higher Self or Spark of God in Man (Neshemah). Thus there is the perfected ruhaniyyah and the mundande ruhaniyyah, the latter being interdependent upon the former. As the body dies and decays the ruhaniyyah returns to its Creator, as the breath of God leaves man with the last breath leaving his lungs.

Thus what we see here in this concept of the ruhaniyyah is a principle that is not to be regarded as separated or independent of the magician or the entity (angel or jinni) being invoked by him, but as an integrated part of that very microcosm. This clearly distinguishes the ruhaniyyah from the jinn, still looking at these concepts from the Arabian perspective. According to the Arabian Sages God created three species, namely the angels, the jinn and man. The ryhaniyyah on the other hand are not a “species” but the innate nature of all the plethora of species.

The jinn, frequently mentioned in the Qur’an (and especially in the Surah entitled Al-Jinn), are considered as supernatural creatures, made from “smokeless fire” by Allah (or God), which occupies a parallel world to that of mankind, made of earth, and as the latter possesses a free will and thus (as man) can be either good or evil. Islam maintains that the Devil was a jinni called Iblis, not the angel Lucifer as the Christians maintain.

A 16th century rendition of a battle with Jinn

“Iblis” may have an etymology deriving from the Greek word “diabolos”, i.e. devil. He was however elevated to the status equal of the angels. When man or Adam was created God ordered all his angels and Iblis to prostrate before his newest (and “best of”) creation, but Iblis refused and was cast down from heaven (as in the Christian mythos) and thus became Shaitan, or the “accuser” or “adversary”. Many of the jinn followed Iblis in his fall and thus became an evil choir of devils, or demons.

Thus in my review on the Grand Key of Solomon the King, basing my opinions on their nature as described in this textbook, I associated jinn generally as evil, rebellious and mischievous, possessing a demonic nature. I also maintained that some jinn were of a more spiritual nature while others were more corporeal, albeit invisible to the human eye, and thus could manifest very physical and tangible results. Jinn are also notorious of being prone of harassing and even possessing humans. They are also said to originate ailments and diseases of the body, such as cancer, etc. Thus sorcerers are still known to be hired in works of exorcism to heal sick people from their possessing spirits or jinn. This clearly resembles the Christian medieval belief of diseases originating in demons and exorcism as a therapeutic remedy.

There are different classes or types of jinn who commonly are being regarded as rebellious and mischevious, the most known or popular being the Ifreet. The infernal Ifreet are seen by the common Arabians as being very powerful subterranean creatures, winged and fiery. They immediately evoke the traditional Christian view on demons. But perhaps the most terrible of all the jinn, and most properly associated with demons, are the Ghoul. The monstrous Ghoul, a word which literally means “demon”, are seen as dwellers of burial grounds and similar uninhabited places, such as deserts. These macabre creatures are seen as shapeshifting demons that assume the guise of animals, particularity hyenas, praying on humans, drinking blood and eating the dead. This term “ghoul” is also well known in the English language, appropriated by the fantasy genre, and usually evokes the images of hideous and praying monsters.

A modern rendition of a Ifreet

In my review of the Grand Key of Solomon the King I also mentioned that humans and jinn lived on the opposite ends of the Elemental realm, humans being of earth and water while the jinn of fire and air. Thus the Qur’an associates the jinn with fire while the Grand Key calls them “winds”, i.e. refer to them as airy. As I mentioned earlier they are able to physically manifest, both as humans or animals, and even as trees or rocks.

According to the Arabian mythos humans and jinn share a lot in nature. I already mentioned “free will” as one such shared particular quality, especially in choosing between evil and good acts. The jinn are however susceptible to magic and thus to the influence of human will and desire. In my review I also gave them “human” qualities such as being “intelligent”, possessing their own “desires” and “preferences”. Even as being possessors of great wisdom and profound occult learning, and impressive magical abilities, such as travelling over great distances in a short time, etc. Thus the hordes of evil jinn are regarded by the Arabs as extremely potent and dangerous forces, primarily of conflict and waging of war.

Moreover the jinn, who are both of the male and female sex, are said to build their own communities similar to ours, possessing advanced technology surpassing our own (some even connect UFO phenomena to the jinn), having families, eating and drinking, living and dying, loving and hating, marrying and procreating, getting sick and even being religious, etc. Hence, similar to men the jinn are considered as being mortal, however their life span is considered being much longer compared to that of humans.

As beings of free will they may choose whatever religion, shared by humanity. That’s why the Qur’an states that Muhammed was sent as a prophet to both humanity and the jinn. Thus even a jinni may be salved and being able to ascend to heaven after death, or he may burn eternally in hell. Thus on Judgement Day, according to Islamic theology, both men and jinn will be judged.

So basically the jinn are as us. However they belong to a parallel world to ours and possess greater magical and pshychic abilities, and superhuman powers. Sometimes our respective worlds mix and humans may se into the world of jinn and the jinn enter our world to possess and afflict us, if bent on that hostile attitude.

“The Nightmare” (1781) by Henry Fuseli

However what I didn’t say in my review is that not all jinn are evil or hostile towards humans; they do possess free will and as already mentioned may chose between performing either evil or good deeds. On the contrary to the picture as given in the Grand Key, and of the Arabic Solomonic tradition, many of the jinn are supporters of man as many of them did prostrate before Adam. These good jinn are said to be under the command of Metatron himself (which according to Qabalistic interpretations once were the man called Enoch in the Bible, who “walked with God”).

Adepts of the Arabian tradition refer to the “good” or beneficial jinn as luminous, resplendent, sublime and sacred in nature. Furthermore, the jinn may not easily be equated with the Elemental spirits as I suggested in my review, but perhaps in some instances with the Elemental Kings and Queens. Some of the jinn are associated with the Elements because of their habitation or activity, and thus are given surnames to designate their field of operation, such as al-Hawaee (“airy”) and al-Nari (“fiery”), etc. To exemplify, some jinn are said to live near volcanoes, or near or in water, and thus are designated as “fiery” and “watery”. But on the other hand some jinni are also given surnames according to their profession, similar to the practice of human Arabic societies, having nothing to do with their habitation or activities relating to natural phenomena.

This association with Elements and jinn could possibly later have developed into the notion of Elemental Kings or Queens. And in the Golden Dawn tradition the name of the fiery Elemental King is Jinn, which only feels reasonable considering the fact that the jinn, according to the Qur’an, are made from “smokeless fire”.

But according to the Arabic tradition jinn could be harmonious with or live in or close to the other Elements as well. For example there are a class of jinn that are associated with Earth, and which are called Ardhya (“of the Earth”). There is also another type of jinn called the Marid, associated with Water as they find their sanctuary in open waters of the seas and oceans. The Marid are regarded as the most powerful of the jinn, being able to grant wishes, as well as being the most arrogant and proud. The Marid also exhibit mean and evil intentions that may either be done out of spite or out of revenge towards a human being.

But according to the world view held by Arabian Adepts a jinni may never be considered as a spiritual being of a particular Element or elemental, as jinn are separate entities with their own inherent makeup similar to humans, and not of the inherent quality of the Element in which they dwell. As an example, some humans are regarded as “airy” or “fiery”, but no one would ever consider them being the spiritual entities of these Elements. The same reasoning is applied to the jinn. The elementals would more properly be attributed to the ruhaniyyah of the Elements.

However according to the Western magical tradition Elemental Kings and Queens are seen as being evolved Elementals who has been elevated to the status of individual beings, even likened to humans. Thus we may see here a form of a cultural crossover or correspondence between the concept of jinn and Elemental Royalty. The jinn of the Elemental habitations may be regarded as being given the task by God of managing and governing the Elemental Kingdoms, i.e. being compared to a species of Elemental aristocracy, but like in human culture not being part of or deriving from the society of which they rule.

But, as I already have pointed out, not all or even most jinn are considered belonging to the Elemental realm. Besides jinn of a more “mundane” occupation, there are also the jinn Kings associated with the Planets. And in a likewise manner any “saturnine”, or “mercurial” qualities of these jinn are no more inherent than these associated with humans possessing strong Planetary qualities in their natal charts. I.e. the Kings, like the Planetary angels, are beings corresponding to and not of the inherent quality of the Planets themselves, whose latter kind more properly are associated with the ruhaniyyah.

These Planetary Kings are fully described and evoked in the Grand Key of Solomon the King. I surmise that these are also of a more spiritual or sublime, or even celestial nature compared to the corporeal jinni associated with the Elements. Thus, in my opinion, the border between angels and these celestial jinn are not as clear-cut as one would expect, as is also the case with the relations between demons and corporeal jinn, the latter who by Arabian Adepts sometimes are seen as one and the same. Remember also the story regarding Iblis, the devil jinni who was elevated to a status equal to the angels, living in their realm, before being cast our as Satan because of his arrogance and rebellious nature. In the Christian interpretation he is clearly associated with the angel Lucifer.

I wonder if perhaps not all of the jinn originally were of a celestial or spiritual nature but some eventually finding themselves being cast out from heaven, as Adam or man was cast out from the heavenly Eden during the Fall? If this be the case this again can explain for the older origin of the jinn as compared to the human kind, as the former sinned and hence were cast out from heaven before the original sin and fall of man.

I will return to the subject of angels, demons and jinn in a short moment, but must take the liberty of referring to the Christian concept of demons as fallen angels, cast down from heaven together with Lucifer. Thus it was only after the Fall from his original “pure” and “heavenly” state that Adam began to procreate and create communities, etc. I wonder if this also is the case with the corporeal jinn in comparison with the celestial jinn?

But we must not forget that as the Elemental Kings aren’t regarded as evil or demonic there also in Arabian lore exists both good and evil terrestrial jinn, organized in societies, going to local places of worship, going to work, raising their children, etc. As there exist sinful and mischievous jinn, giving in to the temptations of Satan, there also exists pious jinn who serve God and are compassionate in their acts.

But I suspect that the more celestial, i.e. Planetary jinn, cannot easily be compared to the terrestrial ditto but more in activity and nature to that of the angels. However there are also theories in the Golden Dawn, contained in an unpublished document belonging to the Th.A.M. (Theoricus Adeptus Minor) Grade, which concerns the sexual life and sexual organs of angels. But according to its doctrine this kind of sexuality is of a more sublime nature compared to that of the terrestrial humans or jinn.

Let us now leave the particular Arabian view on the jinn and instead focus upon the cross-cultural concurrence of this phenomenon. Taking a perennial stance let us start off with the examination of the Arabian words jinn (plural) and jinni (singular), جني, trying to trace their origin using etymology and uses of similar words in other and neighbouring cultures. The Arabic root JNN means “hidden” or “concealed”, which amply describes how we as humans normally perceive them. But is this word actually of an original Arabian origin or was it perhaps incorporated with the Arabian language and taken from another neighbouring culture?

Sometimes a jinni is referred to as a “genie”, the westernised form of the Arabic word. Now, the word genie derives from the Latin genius. Although the use of the word “genie” in Europe is actually the result of the original French translation of Arabian Nights, which was later borrowed by the English translators, and therefore the etymology between the ancient Latin use of the word “genius” and the Arabian “jinni” somewhat disputed, I find it plausible that the Arabians may have lent the term from the Romans but given it a somewhat different meaning, although there are striking similarities.

The Roman use of the word genius, which translates into “generation” (similar to the word genesis), generally means the inherent and divine nature of a subject or object, i.e. more resembling the Arabian significance of the word “ruhaniyyah”. It on the other hand also applies to them being protective spirits assigned to a human at his birth and following him to his death, which is a bit contradictory as it evokes the idea of a guardian angel. Interestingly enough they were often depicted by the Romans as wearing wings, which is awfully similar to the later representations of angels in Christian iconography. However I personally don’t find these terms or concepts as conflicting as Arabian Sages or Adepts choose to still regard them today. And I believe that the Romans, like their Greek predecessors, hit the mark that is more useful for Adepts within the Golden Dawn and Rosicrucian traditions, i.e. within the Christian esoteric context.

A Genius depicted in 1st century BC

The Romans basically borrowed their concept of the genius from the Greek notions of the daimon, or daemon. In classical Greece the daimon was seen as being either a good or evil intermediary spirit between the divine gods and mortal humans. They were often seen as the guardians of the mortals, sometimes the souls of dead heroes being transmuted into daimones, or divinities.

Plato traces the etymology of the word to daemones, which translates into “knowing” or “wise”. Through Platon we also see the emergence of the evil daimon. This later developed into the Hellenistic division between the good eudaemons and the evil cadodaemons. In the later Christian version of Neo-Platonism the eudaemons were seen as identical to angels, while ordinary daemons were seen as evil, hence the word “demon” in Christian theology.

In ancient Greek religion there was also the notion of agathos daimon or agathodaemon, which translates into “very good spirit”, a synonym to the eudaemon, which served either as a presiding spirit over vineyards and grain fields, or as a personal guardian spirit. This may be directly translated into the later Roman belief in the genius. This must also be the origin of the use of the term “Divine Genius” in the Golden Dawn tradition, i.e. a guardian spirit of a divine nature. In later Christian theology this later developed into the Guardian Angel, which also can be seen in the reference to the “Holy Guardian Angel” of the classical grimorie The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage.

The opposite of this guardian spirit is the evil spirit or cacodeamon, which became the “cacodemon” or simply “demon”. This term translates into “evil spirit”. These are the entities that are the subject of demonic evocation in the medieval grimoires, such as The Key of Solomon. Thus in ancient Greek and Roman mythology we may, in my humble opinion, trace the root of the later Arabian concepts of the evil and the good jinn. But as the view upon the genius or daemon in the Greco-Roman concept is rather vague as to their actual nature, i.e. if they may be seen as the inherent nature of the human or as a distinct being outside of him, the Arabs are quite clear in their view on the jinn as separate beings. It seems as the Romans and Hellenistic Greeks saw them as both, while the Arabs divided them into the jinn and the ruhaniyyah.

But whereas the Christians later developed the genii and daemons into our common view on the angels or demons, the Arabs separated the jinn from the creation of angels. Hence it is my belief that the Arabs both drew upon ancient lore and more “modern” (i.e. Christian) mythology in their belief on the supramundane beings. That’s why all this becomes confusing for the Christian Esotericist. Personally I regard the luminous and good jinn, governed by the great archangel Metatron according to Arabian Adepts, of the same nature as the angels (or perhaps a separate class of angels) and thus immortal.

However, the pious and terrestrial jinn, also under the rule of Metatron, being mortal and thus more closely akin to humans, probably more correctly may be regarded as constituting a aristocracy or ruling class of the Elemental Kingdoms, similar to the classical Greco-Roman view on the daimones or genii as overseers of places or fields. Lastly the evil jinn, such as the Ifreet, ruled by Iblis or Satan, in my view must be regarded as the equivalent of the Hellenistic cacodaemons or the Christian demons.

Now how are we then to resolve the issue of the inherent subjective nature versus the distinct and objective entity, of which we will find ample evidence of confusion in ancient and medieval mythology? How may all this be related to the modern concept of the Golden Dawn?

In my review of the Grand Key of Solomon the King I proposed a middle way that respects both views as correct, but seen from different perspectives. In this instance we may again evoke the ever so popular analogy of the nature of the Light in quantum mechanics; i.e. it may either be a particle or a wave according to the perspective or choice of the observer. Perhaps this is also the case with the Divine Genius or Daemon or Jinn of the Magician?

What if our Higher Self or Higher Soul, within ourselves, has its equivalent in the outside world as distinct from ourselves? What if the Holy Guardian Angel is an outer representative of our Higher Self? In my opinion the Golden Dawn concept of the Divine Genius surely may be applied to both perspectives.

According to the fundamental document of the Golden Dawn’s Inner Rosicrucian Order (the Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis) called Ritual “U” – Microcosm, there is the concept of dividing the microcosm according to the Four Worlds of the Qabalah, i.e. Assiah (material and human) Yetzirah (astral and angelic), Briah (mental and archangelic) and Atziluth (casual and divine).

Thus man himself belongs only to Assiah, which arranges him into a complete Tree of Life where his Kether (or Yechidah) forms the Higher Self or Lower Genius. Beyond this “Assiatic” or human Tree formulates the “Yetziratic” Tree in which resides the Guardian Angel or Higher Genius. For all practical purposes this Guardian Angel and Higher Genius may be regarded as an outside entity beyond the mortal nature or humanity. Using Arabian nomenclature the Higher Self or Lower Genius would correspond with the ruhaniyyah while the Guardian Angel or Higher Genius would be the equivalent of man’s own jinni.

Interestingly enough there is an Arabian concept of guardian jinn called “Qareen”. According to Islamic literature the Qareens are jinn-type spirits unique to each individual, which may be translated to “constant companion”. This companion may either be good or evil. If evil the Qareen is said to whisper into man’s soul and tell him to give in to his evil desires. This is obviously the equivalent of the Evil Persona in the Golden Dawn tradition, attributed to Yesod and Nephesh (animal soul), while the good Qareen is the equivalent of the Lower Genius attributed to Kether and Yechidah (divine soul).

Even more interestingly Arabs believe that it is the very deeds of humans that turns the Qareen to either being good or evil. If the human host is given in to mischief and sin, and thus the Qareen being misguided by his human companion straying from the righteous path, it then becomes a shaytaan (in the Golden Dawn tradition called Omoo-Sathan; the evil persona), this being a punishment of God. It is said that the Qareen of Muhammed himself became a devout convert of Islam after hearing the prophet reading from the Qur’an.

In my personal opinion what actually happens is that the human will (distinct from the divine will of man, residing in Yechidah or the Lower Genius), called Ruah or human soul, may either give in to his Evil Persona, corresponding to the demonic Ifreet or rebellious jinn, or to his Lower Genius, i.e. the guardian Genie. Thus according to his actions either the Evil Persona grows in strength and dominion over his Ruah or the Lower Genius becomes more pronounced, and eventually may unite with man’s soul and enlighten it with the Light of God.

Thus in conclusion we here see a striking resemblance between the Arab notion of a Qareen jinni and the Graeco-Roman genius/daemon and the Christian guardian angel, which the exception of the Hellenistic and Christian guardian having more initiative towards the good and being a active spiritual guide. Still there are to many similarities to ignore the perennial outlook upon this subject. And I hope that my tentative speculations have contributed somewhat to this field of research, if not creating a greater confusion that ever before.


söndag 13 december 2009

The art of Evocation: A review of the Grand Key of Solomon the King


Ishtar Publishing is a publishing house specializing in the translation of ancient Arabic magical texts into the English language. In this respect they are one of a kind and in my opinion provides a great service to the occult community of which they should be commended. I have reviewed one of their titles before on my blog, Nineveh Shadrah’s Magic Squares and Tree of Life: Western Mandalas of Power. I have just finished reading their recent publication, the highly anticipated Grand Key of Solomon the King: Ancient Handbook of Angel Magic and Djinn Summoning.

As the title suggest this text belongs to the so-called Solomonian magical tradition and occult lore which has been preserved through different so called “grimoires”, or working manuals in the art of spirit summoning, through the late middle ages or early renaissance until today. In most cases these texts are straightforward and void of any theosophical or esoteric speculation as to the how or why of the existence and nature of supramundane beings and corresponding planes. These books thus presuppose that the reader is well versed with or initiated into a magical worldview that is based upon a Hermetic and Qabalistic tradition. This is also the case with the Grand Key of Solomon the King.

Now there are lots of books and texts circulating today with the title of “Key of Solomon”, or Clavicula Salomonis as it is called in Latin, attached to them, most notable the translations made by S.L. MacGregor Mathers, the co-founder of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, of which the first was titled simply as The Key of Solomon the King and published in 1889. This translation is often referred to as the “Greater Key of Solomon” to distinguish it from MacGregor Mathers’ later translation from 1904, edited and expanded upon by Aleister Crowley, called The Lesser Key of Solomon or The Goetia, also known as the Lemegeton.

Though both texts by MacGregor Mathers deals with the evocation or the summoning of lesser spirits or demons attributed to the astrological forces, using magical circles painted upon the floor and a wide array of magical weapons such as wands, swords, and daggers, etc., the later work is however not at all related to the “Greater Key” in content and nature as the earlier work mainly deals with the seven Planetary forces while the “Lesser Key” deals with the 72 spirits or demons of the Zodiacal Decans. The Grand Key of Solomon the King also mainly follows the Planetary sequence although there are references to twelve (Zodiac) and four (Elements) as well.

In fact, while it was the Greater Key which introduced the concept of the protecting Magical Circle and the primary weapon of evocation, i.e. the Magical Sword, it was The Lesser Key of Solomon which introduced the so called “Triangle of Art”, which expanded upon the original magical circle and assigned a place where the summoned spirit was supposed to appear. Today most ceremonial magicians use both the Magical Circle and the Triangle of Art, in combination with the Magical Sword, regardless of force or hierarchy being used. The Grand Key of Solomon also uses the Sword and the Circle, but lacks the Triangle.

Goetic Magical Circle with Triangle of Art

In his translation of The Greater Key of Solomon the King MacGregor Mathers also introduced the concept of “seals” which are specialized symbols or sigils, called “pentacles” or “medals” in the Greater Key, attributed to the seven Planets with various purposes and supposed to be attached to the robe of the operator. Later in the Golden Dawn these were developed into so called “lamens” which were supposed to be hanged onto the neck of the magician by a collar. These are similar to Talismans but here serve to create a binding link between the operator standing protected inside the Magical Circle and the summoned spirit that is supposed to appear to visible manifestation outside the protective Circle. With this Magical Lamen, which has been duly consecrated with the appropriate names of God and corresponding Angelical names, and their respective sigils and symbols, is the operator (in the Greater Key referred to as the “Exorcist”) supposed to control the evoked demon by the aid of the Magical Sword. The Grand Key also uses seals for this purpose but in the form of rings and jewels.

Seals from the Clavicula

Modern Magicians, working with Solomonic style evocation, use these combined security measures of the Magical Circle, Triangle of Art, Lamen and Magical Sword to subdue the demon summoned or conjured through the process of evocation, already laid out in these ancient magical texts. But before I proceed with my exposition and review proper of this latest grimoire I will try to explain how I perceive the modern view held in the Golden Dawn tradition of the mechanics of evocation and the importance given to it in the Order which I represent in Sweden and Scandinavia, the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega.

Triangle of Art as presented in the Goetia

First of all there is the concept of the microcosm and the macrocosm, where the former is a lesser reflection of the latter, the microcosm being man or lesser world and the macrocosm being the universe or greater world. Now in all kinds of magic, whether of the invocatory or evocatory kind, the operations affect both the macro- and microcosm, i.e. the inner and the outer. So when invoking a particular magical force, such as a god-name or angel, the magical act both awakens that particular aspect within the magician and also attracts that corresponding principle from the universe outside of him or her. Thus magic amongst else facilitates the fusion between the macrocosm and microcosm, or between man and the universe, or if you prefer between man and the All or God.

So we must conclude that in the process of evocation of demons or spirits the magician summons both these “entities” from within and from outside him- or herself. But today amongst Solomonian magicians there is a polemic regarding the nature of these summoned spirits, if they are to be regarded as autonomous beings outside of the magician (i.e. if they themselves are microcosms within the macrocosm in the same manner as the magician) or if they are nothing but the personal complexes of the subconscious inner life of the magician. The former group often refer themselves to as the “traditionalists” while the latter often are blamed with “psychologizing” magic.

The magical text which is under consideration in this review, the Grand Key of Solomon the King, as well as the people behind its publication at Ishtar Publishing, clearly places themselves within the former category. Modern magical textbooks or manuals, such as David Griffin’s The Ritual Magic Manual, apparently places themselves in the latter field. But me personally I believe that these two opinions mustn’t at all contradict each other but instead should be reconciled. So in my opinion when the magician evokes a spirit he or she both attracts a real entity of objective existence into the Triangle of Art, as well as bringing forth an unconscious and repressed complex from the subconscious layers of the self into the surface as represented by the Triangle.

But it is also my opinion that there is much more spiritual value found in looking upon these kinds of magical workings and attending phenomena from primarily the subjective perspective, i.e. as a species of personal development and cleansing of the individual soul and energetic body. There are of course great benefits gained also from the “interrogation” of outside spirits or demons, as to their nature and to the plane that they represent, and also occasional magical or esoteric transmissions received “orally”. But the actual spiritual benefits gained by making conscious repressed and hence disassociated demonic aspects of personality far surpasses any “wisdom” that may be gained by any information received, which always must be carefully sieved by the operator because of its deceiving and illusionary nature.

In the microcosmic or subjective perspective the magician gains access to renewed energy and power hitherto bound up and contained beyond the constructive use of the self, and last but not least the knowledge of the self. Hence the primary motif of theurgy or any spiritual discipline must always be to “know thy self”. But to know one’s self is also to know the universe, and vice versa. Thus I don’t see any real opposition between these two positions. But in practice I always regard any kind of magical acts or operations as primarily involving myself and the different aspects or forces residing within me, both higher and lower.

But any distinction between micro- and macrocosm actually only applies on the lower realms of existence; on the highest levels of pure spirit there is no distinction between the inner and outer. And between the highest spirit and lowest matter there is a gradual intermix or level of separation between the inner personal and the outer objective. Thus on the level of the astral there is no clear border or distinction between the subjective and objective as it is on the purely physical. And magic primarily works on the levels of the astral and ethereal, the latter being a plane thrown in between the physical and astral often referred to as the “energetic” but much more tangible and related to the laws of physics.

However here also lies another distinction between the “traditionalists” or the magicians who emphasises the objective experience of evocation and the “subjectionalists” who emphasise the inner spiritual or psychological forces of the personality. The former believes in physical or ethereal manifestation while the latter holds that it suffices with astral visionary experience. Hence also the practical methods differ as astral visionary emphasis uses a scrying mirror attached to the Triangle of Art, which is placed upon a stand so that the magician may look into the mirror from inside the Magical Circle, while the physical or ethereal manifestation emphasis lays the Triangle of Art flat on the floor and often places a thurible or censer within the Triangle, in which the spirit is supposed to manifest before the physical eye inside a dense cloud of smoke, which is supposed to help forming the visual shape of the apparition.

While the Grand Key of Solomon clearly emphasises the physical manifestation before the actual eyes of the magician I personally follow the recommendations as given in The Ritual Magic Manual and that of Poke Runyon’s The Book of Solomon’s Magick. So looking solely from the perspective of the microcosm evocation has the primary aim of bringing forth a repressed aspect of the magician from the subconscious, which we may call a “spirit”, “demon” or “qlippa”, or in the case of the Grand Key a “jinn”, from his or her energetic body (often referred to as the aura or sphere of sensation) and place it outside of the protective Magical Circle into the Triangle of Art, where it is supposed to be bound by the sacred names of the Triangle. While bound there the magician is thus to safely scry into the magical mirror and expect the evoked spirit to manifest before the inner eye of the Magician as seen in the mirror image of him- or herself.

Invocation on the other hand “brings down” a spiritual force, such as a holy angel, from the superconscious levels of being within the Magician and into the conscious self and the aura. So as evocation brings forth from below invocation brings down for above (if we are here allowed to use the metaphor of a vertical dimension of higher and lower, spiritual and mundane). So both in invocation and evocation there is the psychological or perceptive aspect of the operation dealing with consciousness and there is also the energetic manipulation working in parallel. So regardless of the microcosmic or macrocosmic perspective magic always deals with real and tangible forces.

So to reiterate or summarize the formulae of evocation, the main object is to summon or conjure a spirit from the lower strata of existence from both the micro- and macrocosm into a visible manifestation. As this is a highly hazardous practice, mainly presenting a danger of spirit obsession and the spiritual degradation of soul as the result from summoning demons or evil spirits, certain rigid security measures must be taken into account before and during the operation.

Evocation attempted by John Dee and Edward Kelly

Before anything there is the preparation of the operator through different spiritual observations such as fasting, purification or cleansing, meditation, contemplation of holy texts, confession and ritual exaltation of soul and invocation of the higher which may take several days or even a week to complete.

Then during the actual evocation there is first the casting of the Magical Circle that traditionally is to be drawn with white chalk, or salt being poured. Today most magicians simply just use paint, colour pens or adhesive coloured tape. This circle is to be filled with certain protective symbols and certain divine or sacred names. During the entire operation the magician is never supposed to break this circle. And second there is the Triangle of Art into which the spirit is to be summoned, being bound by sacred symbols and divine names in the same manner. So there is a dual safety measure being considered. As I mentioned earlier in the Grand Key of Solomon there is a Magical Circle being in use but no Triangle of Art, which more reflects the tradition of the Greater Key as translated by MacGregor Mathers.

Solomonic Magical Circle

Then there is the Magical Sword that is supposed to be consecrated to the forces of Geburah or Mars. With this Sword the magician is to be able to subdue the spirit and keep it in check, threaten it with the weapon if need be and in rare cases torment or punish it if it doesn’t comply with the will of the magician. Surely the Magical Sword is a symbol and an extension of the Magical Will of the operator. It is of course also a weapon for self-defence in the case of a spirit breaking away from its imprisonment and would it succeed in breaching the Magical Circle. In this manner the Sword is a lethal weapon against the spirit, charged as it is with the Severity of God. As has already been mentioned the Grand Key involves a Magical Sword and this is to be duly charged with the forces of Mars, in a similar fashion as in the Golden Dawn tradition.

Magical Sword

Lastly there is the Lamen that is supposed to create a binding link between the aura of the magician and the summoned spirit. With this link is the magician to control the spirit with his will, charged with the protective symbols and divine names upon the Lamen and enforced by the Magical Sword. The Grand Key thus employs seals attached to different forces and entities that are to be inscribed upon gems and metal rings (often the latter) filled with curious characters which is reminiscent of Arabic letters.

Because of the very hazardous nature of evocation, as clearly can be seen in the foregoing paragraphs, the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega teaches today that before any workings of evocation is to be conducted the magician must first be successful in invoking the highest names of Godhead and of the Divine Angels. More so is he or she to have succeeded in invoking the “Holy Guardian Angel”, described in yet another grimoire translated by S.L. MacGregor Mathers called The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage.

While this latter work attributed to the Egyptian Sage Abra-Melin probably is of an older origin and doesn’t properly belong to the lore of Solomonic Magic it still presents a highly valuable formulae of theurgy, and stresses the necessity of a purified Spirit or Higher Soul being present in the magician before venturing into the summoning of impure spirits or demons. Interestingly enough the first half of the Grand Key of Solomon the King mainly deals with theurgy and invocation of beneficent angelical beings belonging to the seven Planets, but more excitingly so a highly interesting and time consuming formulae of invocation of the Great Archangel Metatron. This in my opinion is more reminiscent of the work of Abra-Melin rather than what is to be expected of traditional Solomonic treatises such as in the Greater Key of Solomon.

Thus in the Rosicrucian Order of Alpha et Omega and in the Temple in which I teach we emphasise that the magical formulae of evocation properly belongs to the workings of a Adeptus Major or 6°=5°, and not to that of a Adeptus Minor 5°=6° who must primarily focus on his or her invocation and conscious communication with the Divine Genius or Higher Self, what is commonly referred to as the “Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel”. Thus is he or she prevented from debasing magical practice and ruin spiritual progress in the summoning of spirits and demons, who will surely tempt him or her to indulge in worldly powers and riches, only to find the magician being seized by control of the spirit and not the reverse as it is supposed to be.

So in the wake of the Grand Key of Solomon the King being prepared for publication for a greater English reading audience I would personally recommend the reader of this highly powerful manuscript refraining from any application of the instructions as contained therein, or in any other Solomonic Key, prior to either being in conscious communication with the transpersonal or Higher Self or successfully being taken through the theurgical workings of all the Adeptus Minor sub-grades as presented in the reformed curriculum of the Rosae Rubeae et Aureae Crucis (the Inner Order of the Alpha et Omega).

At least there must have be made fully manifest the successful invocation of the Archangel Metatron in the prescribed manner, as described in the instructions of the Grand Key, before venturing into the summoning of the malicious spirits and demons of different kinds and dubious qualities. Now that I have presented in broad outlines the magical formulae of evocation as seen through the lens of the Golden Dawn and the Alpha et Omega we may proceed into the actual analysis of the Key of Solomon itself.

Even if a number of Jewish and Arab documents attributed to King Solomon (the son of King David) were circulating in early medieval times, modern scholarly research argue that there was a possible original text of Clavicula Salomonis written in Latin or Italian dated to the 15th century, which could have had an even earlier source in a Greek Manuscript from the 15th century called the Hygromanteia or Solomonikê, in English rendered as The Magical Treatise of Solomon. One of the earliest extent versions is actually a English translation dated to 1572 and entitled The Clavicle of Solomon, revealed by Ptolomy the Grecian. Most Latin versions of the Clavicula is however from the 17th and 18th century, mostly of French origin.

Magical Circle according to the Hygromanteia

S.L. MacGregor Mathers used the latter category Latin, Italian and French source documents of the Clavicula Salomonis, in the property of the British Museum, for his classical 1888 compilation and translation into English. However this was not the only version of the Clavicula Salomonis that was to be translated by MacGregor Mathers. Following his move to Paris in 1893, accompanied by his wife Moina, he later translated other and entirely different editions bearing the same Latin name based on manuscripts which he found in the French libraries, entirely unique versions which has never before seen the light of day and only been restricted for circulation amongst a few high initiates of the Golden Dawn or related occult organizations.

But this present work entitled the Grand (as opposed to the “Greater”) Key of Solomon the King is an entirely different manuscript of an Arabic origin and hence most probably of a much earlier date as compared to the Latin, Italian and French versions used by MacGregor Mathers. This may actually be the source document as proposed earlier of an Arabic origin that inspired the Latin and Greek originals. The fact is that the Grand Key is a rendition of yet older Hebrew traditions being transcribed into Arabic, and eventually being expanded upon with the indigenous magical lore of the Islamic Arabs themselves.

The Grand Key of Solomon the King is attributed to the Pseudo Asaph Ben Berechiah. Now the original Asaph Ben Berechiah is somewhat of a legend in the ancient lore of Islamic mysticism, a prototype Magus or Sage of a sorts. He is mentioned in different sources and his magical lore dates back to the earliest rise of Islam in the 7th century. Fragments contained in the Grand Key (in Arabic known as the Ajnas) can be traced to 12th century, which thus makes it much older than the Greater Key (Clavicula).

The original version of the Grand Key was most probably of a lesser volume and in time was expanded upon when other manuscripts or fragments of manuscripts were appended and merged with the original. Thus the version as published today appears to be quite fragmented in its content. The current expanded version of the Grand Key is said to be older than 300 years, which at least would make it as old as the majority of the Latin versions of the Greater Key. However the oral transmission of the Grand Key is said to be older compared to any extant fragment of it from the 12th century.

The Grand Key gives a formulae to successfully and safely evoke or summon the “jinn”, i.e. the Arabic equivalent of spirits or demons, and the “ruhaniyyah” or spiritual beings, although it doesn’t give any lists or tables of jinn or ruhaniyyah names at all, with the exception of the seven Planetary jinn Kings and some other prominent jinn royalty. Instead of this the Grand Key gives a very detailed and tedious set of lists on the different sacred names which God supposedly used when he created the different heavens, firmaments, Planets, etc., besides providing the names of the most important angels used to enforce the dominion over the jinn and ryuhaniyyah. So the document places the usual emphasis on the creative word used during genesis, as it has been said that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

Arabian Solomonic magic is based upon the notion that the legendary powers of King Solomon, the son of David, came directly from the angelical dominion and enslavement of the jinn. Thus in the context of the Grand Key of Solomon the King it is actually never the individual will or personal command of the magician’s self who dominates the spirits but the actual names uttered by the magician once used by God Himself, and the authority contained and conferred in these and in the very names of the attached angels.

Thus in a manner quite reminiscent of the before mentioned Abra-Melin operation the magician is expected to observe a rigid regimen of the invocation of powerful angelical beings, amongst else the words of power associated with the four primary angels of Israfel, Gabriel, Michael and Azrael, which to my understanding is the equivalent of the four Archangels of the Quarters found in the Golden Dawn tradition and the Hermetic Qabalah, i.e. Raphael, Michael, Gabriel and Uriel. Then is the magician expected to invoke the words of power associated with the Seven Heavens, the Seven Planets (or Firmaments) and their angelical choirs.

Then follows the formulae of invocation of the great angel Metatron, taking approximately a week to complete. This invocation is in my opinion the holy grail of the Grand Key and proves to be an indispensable preparation for the actual evocations of the jinn and ruhaniyyah. First is the magician to fashion himself a golden ring bearing the especial seal of Metatron, and purify it accordingly to the influences of the heavens and stars. Following this and during the entire operation the magician is supposed to uphold a strictly vegetarian diet and abstain from the company of men. He is also not permitted to sleep until exhausted during the seven consecutive conjurations of Metatron, and frequent fasting is used throughout the operation.

This admonition of a prolonged waking state is to be found throughout the Grand Key and probably were used to induce a hallucinoge state in the magician, opening up his mind to visionary experience and apparitions. There is a special conjuration written for each of the seven days and each conjuration is to be repeated several times throughout the night and day. This clearly helps the magician fighting against his or her sleep. At the end of the operation angels of light are supposed to descend upon the magician and grant him or her dominion over all the ruhaniyyah of the earth.

Then follows the evocations proper of the ruhaniyyah and corresponding terrestrial jinn kings attached to the seven Planets. Regarding the nature of the “ruhaniyyah” the word is etymologically linked to the Hebrew word “Ruah” or spirit. In the context of the Grand Key it refers to the notions equivalent to the Sanskrit word “prana” or the Greek “pneuma”. I have been told that this principle is somewhat related to the Golden Dawn notion of “intelligences” used together with the Planets. So I would interpret the ruhaniyyah as hierarchically placed somewhere between the celestial angels and the terrestrial jinn. However there exists both celestial and terrestrial ruhaniyyah, i.e. both Planetary and Elemental. So in conclusion I would regard the celestial or Planetary ruhaniyyah as the equivalent of Planetary Intelligences and the terrestrial ruhaniyyah as the equivalent of the Elementals or Elemental Kings, within the Golden Dawn context.

Thus the ruhaniyyah may be regarded as the intermediaries between the angelical forces and the “demonical” jinn. According to the Arabian Sages a jinn may either be a spirit or a corporeal being, however mostly invisible but able to visible manifest. Thus the influences of a jinni may be very physical and tangible, and most ghost phenomena of the poltergeist variety are oftentimes interpreted by Arabian magicians as the works of a jinni. Throughout the Grand Key the jinn are described as rebellious and mischievous, often prone to possession of humans.

The jinn are even regarded as akin to the human Elemental realm but of a previous origin compared to the human race and of opposite Elemental composition. Thus as humans are composed of earth and water the jinn are said to be composed of fire and air. Throughout the Grand Key the jinn are called “winds”.

Thus a jinni is regarded as an intelligent being with its own desires and preferences, as a human person would express them. They are said to be possessors of great wisdom and profound occult learning and many Arabian sages have been said to receive their occult teaching from jinn. Some even suspect that the “angelical” communication between Edward Kelly and the Great Angel Ave may actually have been that between a human and a jinni impersonating an angel (although I personally doubt it). Thus we find them throughout the wealth of Arabian lore, such as in Arabian Nights and the jinni in Aladdin’s Lamp. There is also the popular notion of a “jeanie” (i.e. jinni) in a bottle, who when opened will grant you every whish, etc. These myths have something to say to us regarding the magical powers of the jinn.

Thus the jinn are regarded by the Arabs as extremely potent and dangerous forces, primarily of conflict and waging of war. In my opinion they are closely related to the cacodemons of Abra-Melin, set in charge over and related to the various physical phenomena. Many of the magical formulae contained in the Grand Key concerns the exorcism of a possessing jinni, the capturing of it and following interrogation, and even execution of the most rebellious kind. The Grand Key however admonishes killing a jinni as the last resort and always by the permission of God, as all work contained in the Grand Key is supposed to be done under the direct authority and permission of the Highest. Thus it is never allowed to be the personal decision of the magician, void of divine authorization, to kill any jinni such as in the act of vengeance, etc.

It seems to me as the seven jinn kings are to be regarded as “arch-demons” or perhaps something equivalent of the demon “princes” according to Abra-Melin the Mage. In the tabulation of demons as contained in The Book of Sacred Magic we find Amaimon listed as a “sub-prince”. In the Grand Key of Solomon the King he is referred to as the Saturnian jinn king Maymun (or Maymun Aba Nukh in full), which perhaps is a more original and complete version of that name. He is known to us through the christian gospels where Jesus names him as Mammon. The names of the other six jinn kings seem to be of an entirely Arabic origin.

The list of Planetary angels are interesting enough to be mentioned here. The Grand Key lists them as the angel Ruqael (or Raphael) for Sol, Jibrael (or Gabriel) for Luna, Samsamael (or Samael) for Mars, Mikael for Mercury, Sarfael for Jupiter, Anael for Venus, and Kasfael (or Qatzphiel) for Saturn.

Within brackets I have inserted the original Hebrew transliterations of these names from which the Arab names are derived. In the book The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie these Planetary angelical names were presented in a corrupted form, as was clearly shown in David Griffin’s scholarly research (relying heavily upon the Hebrew manuscipt Sepher Raziel) as presented in the third chapter of The Ritual Magic Manual. See the table below for a full comparison between the older G.D. transliteration, original Hebrew and Arab names as contained in the Grand Key of Solomon the King:

Notice the transposition between the angels of Sol and Mercury in the G.D. transliteration and the Hebrew/Arab originals. Thus it becomes quite clear, in reference to the Grand Key, that the correct attribution of the Planetary angel for Sol is non other than Rafael and that the firmament of Mercury naturally falls under dominion of Michael. Notice also the correctness in attributing Samael as the original Archangel for Mars. Many modern authors, including David Griffin, instead attribute the Archangel of Geburah, or Kamael, to Mars. The only discrepancy that I can notice between the Arab and Hebrew is for Jupiter’s angel, which in the Grand Key is attributed to Sarfael.

If I am allowed to digress further, I would like to take the opportunity to indulge in speculation regarding the arabicized Hebrew. There are lots of names appearing in the Grand Key that have obvious Hebrew origin. For example god names such as Adonai Tzabaoth, Eheieh, Yah (a often occurring name in the text), El Shaddi, Yahweh, etc., and the aforementioned angelical names. This fact provokes my question if Arabian transliteration of Hebrew may be a source of more correct pronunciations reminiscent of Classical Hebrew?

The fact is that Classical Hebrew ceased to bee a spoken language since the 4th century CE and the knowledge of vocal pronunciation thus became lost. Even if the cross-cultural exchange between the Hebrews and Arabs didn’t take full circle until the establishment of Moorish Spain in 8th century, I suppose that “Biblical Hebrew” of that period was more reminiscent of Classical Hebrew compared to modern Hebrew today. It is interesting here to note that modern Arabic is based on Classical Arabic and thus in high probability hasn’t gone through these same changes as in the Hebrew equivalent.

Returning at last to the Grand Key of Solomon the King we find that after the evocations of the Planetary spirits follows a conjuration of the spirits governed by the “Twelve Hosts”. And while it never is mentioned specifically in the text I suspect that these concern the 12 Signs of the Zodiac. Following this and the last 1/3 of the book is a disparate collection of numerous lesser conjurations and instructions on how to exorcise evil jinns, the manner in which to use therapeutic magic, and the lesser pleasant habits such as “the binding, crucifixion, and interrogation of jinn”, etc., and last but not least the construction of different implements used throughout the book.

A particular heavy conjuration is the so-called “Syriac conjuration” consisting of sacred names with which to conjure jinns, devils, ifreets, giants, ghouls, tempters, etc. The overall feeling that I get from simply reading this document is that the first half of it seems permeated with a strongly theurgical and sacral tone, seldom found in this kind of literature, which really hit a key within my soul and was a pure blessing to read. But this soon developed or devolved into a much less pleasant reading during the second half of the book which contains the most dark aspects of evocation and manipulation of nature’s finer forces.

As I read through the most disturbing portions of the book during last weekend I experienced a curious phenomena. I must confess that reading these particular parts of the Grand Key created a very strong emotional upheaval within me, resulting in a species of disassociation with my surroundings and even loved ones. I felt a coldness overtaking my soul that I seldom experience with myself. I hardly spoke to anyone for several days and felt a strong rejection towards the world outside of me. A psychoanalyst or psychiatrist would refer to this state as “schizoid”; a already present streak of this mental position within me was augmented by these words of power.

On a positive side these words of power as well evoked one of my internal fires for several days which sent a powerful current through my body, sometimes with an distracting intensity bordering to pain. From this I must conclude that the Arabian names and words contained in this book are very, and I mean very powerful to even read and contemplate in silence, for good and for worse. It is a virtual roller coaster ride, ascending towards heights of pure inspiration and compassion, followed by being plunged into depths of resignation and dark misanthropy. This book shouldn’t be taken lightly when being read. Read it with a purified mind and a clean heart.

Lastly I would like to mention some practical aspects of the Grand Key of Solomon the King. There is a very strong emphasis on astrological observance, especially in the creation of the different magical implements. There are direct references to astrology such as “when Mars is in its exaltation, which is Capricorn” or “on Friday, when its planet is in its exaltation”, etc., but only when objects or implements are being fashioned and consecrated. In The (Greater) Key of Solomon the King you will also find similar references but not as frequent as in the Grand Key, although there are many references to exact dates which should be observed. Thus in the Grand Key we see an importance given to synchronization when working with physical tools of magic.

There are also numerous implements that are being used throughout the Grand Key of Solomon the King, each consecrated according to its Planetary force. Besides the numerous rings and jewels bearing the seals and characters of each force we have the Rod of Moses, the Sword of Mars, different Athames consecrated to the jinn kings of Jupiter and Saturn, the Pentacle and the Carpet.

Perhaps the Carpet is most associated as akin to Arabian Sages and folklore. We all know already of the flying carpets in Arabian Nights, which according to Arabian myth also were used by Solomon himself. The Carped used in the Grand Key of Solomon the King is to be made at the end of the initial seven days operation of the conjuration of Metatron, and is then to be filled with all kinds of sacred names or words at the sides and ends, approximately 400 in number. It is then to be used in all succedent operations of evocation and grants the owner “dominion over every soul on earth, human and jinn alike”. It is to be placed within the Circle and used in circle casting, and in all creation of seals, etc.

“The magic carpet” by Victor Vasnetsov

Interestingly enough The (Greater) Key of Solomon the King, as translated by S.L. MacGregor Mathers, also has instructions for the making of a Magic Carpet. And likewise is the exorcist to cast the Magical Circle around it. But it has a very limited use in the Greater Key, restricted to the interrogation of spirits to gain knowledge of whatever kind. Thus during the transition from the Middle East to Europe the Carpet had lost its significance that it had received in the Grand Key.

I have already spoken of the Sword of Mars, but I believe it is well worth to mention the Athame or ritual dagger. Now the magical dagger used in Wicca to cast a magical circle is also called the “athame”. Here we probably see the origin of this word that thus points to the fact that modern witchcraft is highly influenced by Solomonian style magic. Now this origin of the name athame may not come as any news in certain wiccans circles, but it certainly was a revelation to me, and surprising at that.

Ritual dagger of the Clavicula

Looking at some weapons used in the wiccan craft I have often thought that there exists a strong Solomonic relationship as to the seals and symbols inscribed upon them. Compare for example one of the daggers in the Greater Key (Clavicula) with that of a traditional wiccan athame, according to the specifications as given by Gerald Gardner, the father of the wiccan tradition (see appended images above and below). I believe Gardner simply borrowed the image for his athame from the Clavicula, but obviously not only the design. This tracing of the name “athame” back to an Arabic Solomonian origin gives certain credibility to this assertion of the Solomonian link to wicca, as now the evidence is quite conclusive. In the Grand Key the task given to the Athame is that of being a weapon against the rebellious jinn, in exorcism and in the killing of them.

Wiccan athame

There is also the curious construct called Solomon’s Mandal. It is related to the Almadel as described in The Lesser Key of Solomon the King (Lemegeton), derived from the Arabic word Al-Mandal, in the Lemegeton being described as a wax tablet with protective symbols inscribed upon it whereupon four candles are to be placed at the corners. Thus the Mandal (or Al-Mandal) is used as an instrument of sorts to contact the world of the spirits during evocation. The version of the Mandal in the Grand Key may be likened to a species of canopy (or tablet) raised upon four pedestals big enough to fit a human. Upon these pedestals are certain seals to be placed consecrated to certain powerful jinn kings, amongst one who is called Sakhr. This jinni Sakhr is mentioned elsewhere in relation to Solomon.

The Almadel of Lemegeton

Sakhr is known in legend to have been a primary servant of Solomon in the magical arts. But the wise king eventually became deceived by the evil jinni who took the shape of Solomon and seized his crown. As a punishment in having used Sakhr to create idols for his pagan wife God conferred Solomon the hideous shape of Sakhr. He thus became despised all over his kingdom to the point of being denied any food or drink, nor any hospitality. This continued for 40 days before God was given in to the cries of the angels pitying their belowed and lost Hebrew king.

This little story gives a certain perspective to the dangerous powers associated to the jinn and should serve as a warning example, even if it may seem as a highly exaggerated account of mythical proportions. But for the ancient Sages of Arabia this was no a myth, and modern practitioners of this ancient Solomonian art testifies of the potential dangers in handling these mischievous forces if not being properly prepared or if used with vain purposes.


In conclusion, the Grand Key of Solomon the King is a very paradoxical document. On one hand it contains the loftiest and most profound examples of sacred theurgy, not found in any of the European Solomonic Keys, but on the other hand it also contains the lowliest concepts imaginable that involves the imprisonment and torturous interrogation and killing of jinns or demons, etc., concepts that are very foreign to the mind of the ordinary Golden Dawn Adept.

But in defence for the Grand Key, you will find similar base formulae of evocation and spirit handling in most grimoires, in particular of the Solomonic kind and even in profound spiritual manuals such as The Book of Sacred Magic. But the level of emotional disturbance reading these darker parts of the art is surpassed in the Grand Key. In this way it is pure and direct, and with a no-nonsense attitude in its content. MacGregor Mathers often censored out portions of his translations that he deemed too much concerned with “black magic”. You won’t find this kind of censorship in this edition. And for this I applaud Ishtar Publishing for having provided us with an honest and true rendition of the “real” Key of Solomon the King.

As a historical source document this edition is priceless and probably long overdue. As a practical manual of magic it is clearly of high interest, but I would recommend the reader being cautious if considering implementing it. Use discretion. This is not a book to dabble with. If ill prepared you will probably experience very unpleasant surprises which will perhaps make you drop magic in its entire. In my opinion there are certain important formulae of spiritual preparation and consecutive evocation of spirits to be made, which clearly has its place in any spiritual practice involving ceremonial magic and theurgy. These are easily found in the Grand Key. But there are also found lots of additional techniques being taught which are either highly questionable or only to be used in extremely dire situations.

I personally would use the instructions on exorcism presented in the Grand Key had I have to throw out a possessing spirit inside of someone under my caretaking, instead of using the traditional Roman Ritual, as I truly believe these instructions as contained in the Grand Key to be more direct and pragmatic, and thus more effective. Some of them I would never consider using, as they are unnecessarily cruel towards the evil spirit. Killing of evil and murderous spirits I would only consider if in self-defence or in defence of a loved one.

But these are my personal ethics coming from me being a former professional soldier; although I consider myself being a peaceful person by character I’m not a pacifist and probably never will be. And all these aspects of handling spirits severely and martially are fully disclosed in the Grand Key and probably cannot be found anywhere else, and of course may come handy with some magicians. But as mentioned before, there are also methods disclosed which concern healing and spiritual remedy using the ruhaniyyah and jinn. The good and constructive parts of the book clearly outweights the dark, sinister or destructive portions.

Regarding the English translation all I can say is that the language is of the highest quality imaginable and really captures a sonorous tone expected from such an ancient text. To be honest I am quite impressed with the translated text and overall with the finished edition. All Arab words of power are presented in its original lettering accompanied by precise transliterations into English. However the text lacks any phonetics which would have come handy in vibrating Arabian for a occidental like me. The only other justifiable criticism, which may be made against this edition by Ishtar Publishing, is that it totally lacks any introduction. It only gives a straightforward presentation of the ancient text, plus a table of contents. Immediately upon reading the text I started to wonder of the history and background behind the Arabic original source document. What is its relation to the Mathers translation?

Finding answers to such a question and more of a similar kind would be very interesting and necessary for a reader to able to better place the ancient text in its proper historical context, regarding questions of validity and authenticity, etc. Other questions that soon became even more necessary to find answers to involved the indigenous concepts and terms such as the “ruhaniyyah” and the “jinn”. These categories of spiritual beings are the actual object of Arabic Solomonic magic and thus necessitate a through knowledge of their nature to be able to handle them properly. These questions prompted me to contact Ishtar Publishing and the editor who was kind enough to provide med with answers. I have used these in my presentation of this review and I hope that this will provide the necessary information for a more appropriate understanding and application of this highly important manuscript.

To summarize, this edition made by Ishtar Publishing of the Grand Key of Solomon the King is a major contribution to the occult community that will greatly benefit by it both on a scholarly level but also in the actual practice of the art of evocation. It is a very practical manual written with the intent of providing the necessary instructions for performance of real magical formulae. But it is not a book for the beginner, at least not from the practical angle. It presents extremely advanced practices, which demands many years of continuous magical practice to master properly. But from the solely scholarly perspective it is indispensable for any student to better understand the history and formulae of the art of ceremonial magic in general and evocation in particular.