The Lemegeton or The Lesser Key of Solomon - Books of Magic and Witchcraft

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

The Lemegeton or The Lesser Key of Solomon
Books of Magic and Witchcraft

The Lemegeton is a collection of five books devoted to spirit summoning. Once again, the text is attributed to King Solomon. The earliest complete surviving manuscript in its present form was written in French and dates to the seventeenth century, although it contains references that date back to approximately 1500. Johann Weyer (1515—1588) included material that seems to derive from The Lemegeton in his catalog of demons, indicating its earlier existence.

What does Lemegeton mean? It resembles an acronym but no one is sure. The text is divided into four parts, which may or may not have originally been separate works. At least one, the Almadel is believed to have once been an original work. The sections are published together and individually today. Purchasing The Lemegeton can be tricky as sometimes the books are sold in one volume but sometimes not. Any volume sold under that name will contain the first book, the Goetia and possibly some or all of the others. Each book or section possesses an individual title, however.

The books are divided as follows:

1. Goetia: this means “sorcery” in Greek. When people refer to The Lemegeton, this is often what is meant. It includes a list and analysis of the 72 most influential demons, many of whom were deities, not demons, at the time of King Solomon. According to legend, King Solomon imprisoned these particular 72 inside a sealed brass cauldron and threw them into the ocean’s depths. Eventually the cauldron washed ashore. It was discovered and opened in the expectation that it would contain treasure, or at least the equivalent of obliging genies in the bottle. Instead, the spirits escaped and are now loose in the world, more troublesome than ever. They can only be controlled by the methods described in this book. The Goetia was translated into English in a collaboration between Aleister Crowley and S. L. MacGregor Mathers, before their eventual falling out.

2. Theurgia Goetia: describes directional spirits and what to do with them.

3. Art Pauline: includes information on planetary hours and governing and guardian angels, as well as instructions on determining your own angels.

4. Art Almadel, also sometimes spelled Almandel: who needs dangerous, troublesome demons? This book includes instructions for summoning angels and convincing them to provide your heart’s desire. The age and origin of this book is unknown. The earliest known reference to The Almadel occurs approximately 1500. Its title isn’t as mysterious as those of some other grimoires: an almadel is a wax square upon which one may inscribe sigils. The handbook reveals how to create almadels.

There is also a fifth book, well, two of them, that are sometimes considered part and parcel of The Lemegeton package. The two fifth books are not identical and have different names. If you purchase a “complete” Lemegeton, it may contain only the four books listed above; it may contain the four books plus one of the following titles or it may substitute one of the following for one of the above:

Image Artem Novem: this includes rituals and prayers that it claims are necessary to consecrate the tools used in the other books

Image Ars Notoria or The Magical Art of Solomon: also attributed to Solomon