Out of the Broomcloset.
This Halloween/ Samhain season, I would like to share how “The Key of Solomon” got me laid. Or maybe it didn’t; the 60’s being as carefree as they were, there may not have been any direct connection, except for the general loosening up of things which was in the air. My first contact with it did coincide with puberty; that much cannot be contested.
My first exposure to “it” (the magical text in question) occurred on the shelves of a long gone bookstore in an undisclosed location (Metuchen N.J.), where I had previously bought Golden Nature Guides and “The Lord of the Rings.” Actually, a good percentage of my earnings as a paperboy seemed to end up there. And there it was, tucked in among cheap paperbacks on ghostly occurrences and UFO’s; “The Secret Lore of Magic,” by Idries Shah, which contained “The Key of Solomon.” After looking at one or two pages, we went up to the counter, paid, and the rest, pursuant to the cliché, is history.
It all felt so surreptitious, so forbidden, and so delicious. Following in the footsteps of those who have acquired such things in ages past, I concealed it (actually, I just gave it a plain brown paper book cover, which more likely made it stand out against the other books on the shelves, but no mention was made of it, ever, by the otherwise hawk-eyed parents. Or, it might have been that concealment spell).
Grimoires are Medieval books of magical spells and rituals, for those of you who are new to all this. None of them were quite as large, or as detailed as the secret books which fuel the plotlines of countless novels, movies and television series. They (and their owners) were tracked down and destroyed, whenever possible by those in power, (while at the same time possessing these works themselves). The Key and its variant texts comprise the largest number of surviving magical manuscripts from this time period. Even more importantly, the elements of magical ritual contained within it have been endlessly dissected out and recombined to generate other magical systems.
Whether you are a Wiccan, Pagan or pursue some other spiritual path, the use of a magic circle, a sword to describe its circumference, or calling up spiritual powers to protect the cardinal points around the magic you are engaged in are derived from this Judeo-Christian text. The assigning of planets to ruling the individual hours of the day and night are derived from the Key, as well as many of the planetary talismans you are likely to come across.
The book itself claims to be the knowledge of King Solomon, set down (in Hebrew) for the benefit of his son Roboam. Despite these claims, it appears that the Key arrived in Western Europe from the Byzantine Empire along with many other Greek texts after the fall of Constantinople in the mid 1400’s, and was quickly adapted and translated into French, German, Latin and English, constantly being adapted and augmented along the way. Unlike similar magical texts, no one seems to have taken the chance to create a printed edition until the 19th century. This was achieved by one of the leading figures of the magical revival late in the century, S. Liddell MacGregor Mathers, head of the Golden Dawn. He did opt to edit out some spells that he felt smacked too much of “black” magic however. While this edition is still in print, I’d suggest you purchase the “Veritable Key of Solomon” by Stephen Skinner.
Space constraints don’t allow more than the briefest sample of information contained within.
Here are the incenses assigned to each day: Monday: aloe wood; Tuesday: pepper; Wednesday: mastic; Thursday: saffron; Friday: ginger or costus; Saturday: sulfur or poppy seeds; Sunday: red sandalwood.
These are the woods: Monday: willow; Tuesday: cedar; Wednesday: hazel; Thursday: pine; Friday: myrtle; Saturday: oak or boxwood; Sunday: laurel. So, if you have the means, you can produce your own charcoal from them to use on the appropriate day, for that added potency.
For the invisibility spells and the magic wishing apples, you’ll need to get your own copy. I hope it has the same impact on you as it did for me. Happy Halloween, all!
Leon Calafiore, a lifelong Wiccan and teacher of occult arts, is Past Master of a New York Masonic Lodge known for the perfection of its ritual. Leon also conducts occult research. Check out his blog at www.bigbookofmagic-outofthebroomcloset.blogspot.com/?m=1