Feb 3, 2012

Book Review: Magical Treatise of Solomon

I finally received my copy of The Magical Treatise of Solomon. The leather edition!!! 

Of course, I could not afford this kind of treasure on my own, and my payment for this book was done in work. Many thanks to my benefactor for his kindness and understanding, who shall remain anonymous.

This book is absolutely amazing in every sense of the word: beautiful binding, flawless golden letters stamping, great graphic quality and huge amount of precise information.  

It s the eighth volume of Sourceworks of Ceremonial Magic Series published by Golden Hoard, translated by the very talented and knowledgeble Ioannis  Marathakis and forwarded by Stephen Skinner, and it should be its leading title since this treatise is the Greek origin of the European Solomonic Cycle, through the Key Of Solomon. 

It can be truly considered the missing link in solomonic literature, bridging the gap between the Testament of Solomon and the later works in the Clavicula Salomonis category, expelling the myth of the Hebrew origin of the Keys of Solomon in the European tradition.

The material is gathered from a number of Greek codices, unearthing information that has long thought to lie buried either in dusty manuscripts no one cold consult, either in special and scarece editions of scholarly studies.  

The information found in these manuscripts vary from one to another, but they contain basically the same information.
The most important tool that the artisan (magician) needs is the Knife of the Art. This is made from a iron that brought death and has a black handle made from goat horn. This is the granddaddy of the white-handled knife, the black-handled knife, the sword, the pen knife, the burin and of course, the athame. 

Contrary to modern pseudomagical neopaganistic views, this knife was not used to direct ”magical energies”, but had in fact quite a practical use.

Contrary to European grimoires that extended the ritual objects to the point of insanity, this tool served multile purposes with great success:
-it served as a tool to cut things
-it was the tool for tracing circles
-it provided a magical defense in some cases
-it sealedthe circle entrance
-it served as a burin (engraving needle)
-about a dosen more.

The Treatise goes on to say that the knife is used for killing and skinning the animals that needed to be slaughtered in order to make the parchment and the knife used to cut the reeds or feathers either for writing or for making the reed pen.

No blinds, no enigmas as to which tool should be made first, like in the Mathers Edition. 

The recepies might seem cruel and bestial, mixing various ingredients of mineral, animal and human provenence. It also clears away the answers to the blood in magic issue. Untill now, the exotic requests for the blood of various animals was considered by the so-called grimoire fundamentalists (like myself) just that, blood of certain animals, while modern users that abhorre the idea of blood thought it a code of some sort concealing diverse substances of vegetal origin. Thing is the weirdos who do things by the book were right. No matter how much we like or dislike the idea ( I myself am a vegetarian), the Treatise goes into detail of how, when and in what way should the magician draw the blood and use it in ritual, leaving no room for doubt of guesses.
It details the certain types of bloods, parchments, inks and incenses that the talismans of the planets require, adds original prayers to the planets in order to subdue them and offers a cornucopia of names of the spirits that rule the hours of the days, the parts of the world and other things of the sort, neatly arranged by the author in 23 delicious comparative charts.

It also presents the virtues of the planets, of the hours of each day, of the days of the Moon, of the zodiac, of the plants and much much more.
Two methods of evocation are contained in this treatise, each with its variations in the manuscripts, plus a hoard of individual experiments regarding divination, scrying, invisibility, lust, knowledge and the like.

We have seals, symbols, characters and practices that we had no idea of until now and the echoes of which we find in the later grimoires.

This book is truly a treasure to behold, to read and to have. I advise you to buy a copy until they run out. It is worth every penny.

Ioannis Marathakis
Ioannis Marathakis was born in 1973, in Athens, Greece, where he still lives. He has studied Theology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, where he attended classes on the history of religion, history of philosophy, ancient Greek, Latin and Hebrew languages, as well as Byzantine literature and palaeography. As he was living in an environment where traditions such as the ‘evil eye’ and the ‘evil tongue’ still existed, he also developed an interest in the survival of such ancient notions and practices.

The so called Solomonike, or magical books allegedly attributed to Solomon, was a field where many of his interests converged. To name but some, it had a connection to the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, it was a major element of Greek folklore and, of course, the knowledge of Mediaeval Greek and Byzantine palaeography were absolute prerequisites for studying it. Since this was a book that nobody seemed to actually have seen, in his University years he turned his attention to the study of the relevant grimoires that had survived in the West. He finally tracked down the Magical Treatise, more than ten years later in 2004, and tried to formulate a critical edition together with an English translation, an attempt that proved to be futile, due to the diversity of the manuscripts.

It was not until 2010 that he decided to reorganize his material and translate the various manuscripts separately, something that led to the present publication. In the meantime, he published in Greek a history of the Solomonic literature, Searching for the Key of Solomon (2007), a web article concerning the history of the invisibility spells, From the Ring of Gyges to the Black Cat Bone (2007), and an introduction to the Treatise, under the title A Source of the Key of Solomon: The Magic Treatise or Hygromancy or Epistle to Rehoboam, for the web magazine Primordial Traditions (2009).