Review by V.H. Frater Sincerus Renatus
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", orClavicula 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 asThe Key of Solomon the Kingand 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. TheGrand 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 Solomonalso uses the Sword and the Circle, but lacks the Triangle.
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, theGrand 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 inThe 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.
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.
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.
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 enforces 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 Salomoniswritten 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 theHygromanteia orSolomonikê, 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.
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 theClavicula 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 theholy 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 inArabian 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 theGrand 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 theGrand 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. InThe (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 theGrand 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 inArabian 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.
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 athamemay not come as any news in certain wiccans circles, but it certainly was a revelation to me, and surprising at that.
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.
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 theLemegeton 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.
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.