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Glossary of Wiccan, Neo-Pagan and Occult Terminology

GRIMOIRE

Some pages from 'The Grand Grimoire' 

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Some pages from 'The Grand Grimoire'
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          A book containing the Spells, formulae, Incantations and details of ritual applied in Ritual Magic.   The grimoires mostly date from the sixteenth and 17th centuries and many are composed in French though with strong Latin connections.

Grimoires still are consulted by students of Ceremonial Magic in modem times, though newer books have replaced them.

In Neo-Pagan Witchcraft, some rituals may draw on ceremonial magic texts, but the Witch's personal handbook of Craft rituals and laws is called the Books of Shadows.

The original purpose of the grimoires was to Conjure and control Demons and spirits, who would bring the magician great wealth and power or enable him to harm or kill his enemies.

Grimoires give precise and sometimes laborious instructions for various rituals, instructing the magician in what to wear, what tools to use and what prayers and Incantations to recite at precise astrological times and various hours of the day and night.   They give recipes for incenses to bum, descriptions for the creation of Magic Circles, Amulets, Talismans, Seals and Sigils, instructions for the slaughtering and Sacrifice of animals and ways to deal with unruly Demons.

They admonish the magician to prepare with periods of fasting, sexual abstinence, cleanliness and prayer and to use only virgin materials in rituals.   They describe the hierarchies of demons and spirits that may be summoned with the help of the grimoire's instructions.

Grimoires, or "black books," as they were often called, came into common usage around the 13th Century.   They were possessed not only by magicians and Sorcerers but also by physicians and noblemen-virtually anyone who thought he had something to gain with a little help from a Demons.  Ideally, the grimoire was copied by hand.

Based on Greek and Egyptian magical texts dating back to 100-400 A.D. and on Hebrew Kabbalistic Theosophy, they originated as manuscripts which, owing to their illegal content, were generally in limited circulation although some eventually emerged in printed books.   They offer a mixture of White and Black Magic which includes practical information on how to learn the names of and invoke spirits.

In some instances they propose methods by which to enter into a diabolical pact, but also on how to cheat malignant entities at their own game.

Some grimoires are devoted to Theurgy, or magic effected with divine intervention, while others concern goety, or Sorcery.   Some include both.

The writers and users of grimoires did not consider themselves Devil-worshippers or evil.   The conjuring of demons was merely one of many means to an end.   Doing business with Demons often meant making pacts with them.   The magician's objective was to outwit the demon so that he did not have to fullfill his end of the bargain. The grimoires helped him do this.

The greatest grimoire is The Key of Solomon, which has provided material for many other grimoires.   According to occult lore the book is attributed to the Biblical King Solomon, who asked God for wisdom and commanded an army of Demons to do his bidding and build great works.   A book of Incantations for summoning demons, attributed to the authorship of Solomon, was in existence in the 1st century A.D.   It is mentioned in literature throughout the centuries.

Over the years, it grew in size and content. So many versions of this grimoire were written that it is virtually impossible to ascertain what constituted the original text; a Greek version that dates to ca. 1100-1200 is part of the collection in the British Museum.

Around 1350 Pope Innocent VI ordered a grimoire called The Book of Solomon to be burned; in 1559 Solomon's grimoire was again condemned by the Church as dangerous but it was widely distributed in the 17th Century.

Another grimoire attributed to Solomon is the Lemegeton, or Lesser Key of Solomon, which includes both White and Black Magic information.

Other major grimoires are:
  • GRIMORIUM VERUM: Based on The Key of Solomon and written in French, this book probably was written in the mid-18th Century, though claims were made that it was translated from Hebrew by a Dominican priest and was published by "Alibeck the Egyptian" in 1517.

  • GRIMOIRE OF HONORIUS: Attributed, perhaps spuriously, to Pope Honorius III who occupied the Papacy in the years 1216-1227.   First published in Rome between 1629 and 1670, it gained wide circulation during the 17th Century.   It claims to be based on the Kabbalah, but. its connection is tenuous at best, and the text is filled with Christian elements.   As a magical text, it is viewed as having little foundation.

  • THE BOOK OF SACRED MAGIC OF ABRA-MELIN THE MAGE: Authorship is attributed to Abramelin the Mage, a Jewish mage of Wurzburg who supposedly wrote the grimoire for his son in 1458; most likely, however, it was written in the 18th Century.   The book had a major influence on Aleister Crowley.

  • THE BOOK OF BLACK MAGIC AND PACTS: This grimoire was written in 1898 by Arthur Edward Waite, a major figure in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.   In the first part of the book, Waite discusses other grimoires; the second part comprises a "Complete Grimoire of Black Magic."

  • TRUE BLACK MAGIC: Also called The Secrets of Secrets.   This 18th-century grimoire draws heavily on The Key of Solomon.

  • GRAND GRIMOIRE: Subtitled The Powerful Clavicle of Solomon and of Black Magic, this French grimoire was probably written in the 17th Century.   A book of Black Magic, it includes instructions for Necromancy that "only a dangerous maniac or an irreclaimable criminal" would attempt, according to occultist Waite.

  • RED DRAGON: It's complete title is Le Dragon Rouge ou L'Art de Commander les Esprits Celestes, Aeriens et Infernaux.   Published in 1822 but purported to date back to 1522 or earlier, it is nearly identical to the Grand Grimoire.

  • THE MAGUS:. This grimoire was written by Francis Barrett and published in 1801.   Barrett repackaged material from older grimoires in an effort to revive occultism.

  • THE BLACK PULLET: Probably written in the late 18th Century in Rome, The Black Pullet does not claim to be a manuscript of antiquity.   It places particular emphasis on magic Talismans and rings. It has ap-peared in altered versions as Treasure of the Old Man of the Pyramids and Black Screech Owl.

  • VERUS JESUITARIUM LIBELLUS (True Magical Works of the Jesuits): This phony grimoire appeared as a "re-print" in 1845 in Germany, then in an English translation in 1875.   It contains conjurations for evil spirits of all sorts and is claimed to have been originally written in Latin by a Jesuit in 1508.   The anonymous author of this grimoire apparently overlooked the fact that the Jesuit order did not even exist in 1508.

NOTE: The Grimoires of Ceremonial and Ritual magicians should not be confused with the Books of Shadows of Neo-Pagan Witchcraft and Wicca.

see also: GRAND GRIMOIRE; GRIMORIUM VERUM; BLACK MAGIC; RITUAL or CEREMONIAL MAGIC


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PLEASE NOTE:
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.

Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans.   Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.

Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church.   Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.

- Jean-Luc



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