The Lesser Key of Solomon (or) Lemegeton (This would have made a good Halloween post.)
In researching my next cozy mystery, I have sought out several sources that speak of The Lesser Key of Solomon. Although there is not much print space assigned to it in my new novel, the Lemegeton plays a central role in The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy. Therefore, I thought it prudent to bring to light some of the beliefs and inaccuracies associated with this text. What do we know of this manuscript and what is its significance?
The Lesser Key of Solomon or Clavicula Salomonis Regis is an anonymous 17th Century grimoire (textbook of magic). It is widely known as the Lemegeton. The Lesser Key took much of its text from several 16th century manuscripts, including Johann Wierus’s Pseudomonarchia Daemounum (a hierarchy of demons) and late-century grimoires. Some of the first section dates to the 14th Century. Claims that the book was originally written by King Solomon have easily been proven incorrect, but that fact has done little to dampen the documents popularity among those who practice demonology. For example, titles are given to many of the demons. These titles of the nobility were not in use in King Solomon’s time, nor were the prayers to Jesus (Solomon was born some 900 years before Jesus) and the Christian Trinity included in the text.
Reginald Scott, who has completed extensive research on magical texts, mentions Ars Paulina, Ars Almadel, and Ars Notoria (three of the Lesser’s 5 books) and a text closely related to the Goetia. Several experts believe the text of the Lesser could have been collected by 1584.
The Lesser provides detailed description of spirits and conjurations of how to evoke their powers. The several original copies extant vary in detail and spellings. Modern editions are widely available in print and on the Internet.
The books of the Lesser Key of Solomon include:
Ars Goetia – list of 72 demons similar to that of Johann Wierus’s; no demonic seals are assigned to Wierus’s demons, nor are the rituals for conjuring the demons as elaborate as those found in the Lesser; deals with the evocation of different types of spirits
Theurgia Goetia – a system of angel magic; closely parallels Trithemius’ Steganographia (At esotericarchives.com there are some great comparison between the Trithemius’ manuscript and the Lesser.); deals with spirits of the cardinal points; explains the names, characteristics and seals of the 31 aerial spirits that King Solomon evoked
Ars Paulina – the spirits in this part of the Lesser coincide with those found in Trithemius’s Steganographia Book 2; supposedly the Apostle Paul discovered “The Pauline art”; experts have known of the Ars Paulina since the Middle Ages; it contains detailed descriptions on how to deal with the angels of men
Ars Almadel – explains how the almadel, or a wax tablet with protective symbols drawn upon it; has instructions concerning the colors, materials, and rituals necessary for the construction of the almadel
Ars Notoria – a collection of prayers, mixed with kabbalistic phrases and magical words from several languages
Note! As one can easily see, researching the smallest details of a fictional novel are often time consuming. Authors attempt to be accurate in the most minute details, but often they encounter conflicting information, as I have in researching The Lesser Key of Solomon. In my story, the archaeologist finds an original copy of this manuscript, and several devious elements wish to take it from him.