From the Llewellyn Magick Blog, December 15, 2014:
To Fly in the Clouds, to Walk on the Water:
The Grimoires and Magickal Super Powers
There is a lot to be said for the mysterious and romantic nature of the old grimoires—such as the the Lemegeton, Key of Solomon, Abramelin, etc. Their pages are filled with ancient and powerful magickal formulae, the secrets of conjuring demons and calling down angels, and magickal talismans for every conceivable purpose. They represent a deep and complex occult tradition, drawing from the spirit lore, astrology, and alchemy of their day to address the problems of everyday life, politics, education, and even warfare.
But that’s not all they promise. Along with the expected spells for healing, love, protection in battle, and victory in court (things we can all use even today), you will discover the grimoires also promise you super powers. They claim that you’ll be able to fly, raise the dead, pass through locked doors, have spirits mine and coin gold for you, summon demonic armies, manifest lavish banquets, and a thousand other miracles that—in our modern world—are more associated with fantasy and Hollywood than with legitimate spiritual pursuits. Here are some examples:
- These are descriptions of talismans from the Key of Solomon:
- “The seventh and last pentacle of the Sun: If any be by chance imprisoned or detained in fetters of iron, at the presence of this pentacle, which should be engraved in Gold on the day and hour of the Sun, he will be immediately delivered and set at liberty.”
- “The fifth and last pentacle of Mercury: This commandeth the spirits of Mercury, and serveth to open doors in whatever way they may be closed, and nothing it may encounter can resist it.”
- “The sixth and last pentacle of the Moon.: This is wonderfully good, and serveth excellently to excite and cause heavy rains, if it be engraved upon a plate of silver; and if it be placed under water, as long as it remaineth there, there will he rain. It should be engraved, drawn, or written in the day and hour of the Moon.” [Key of Solomon the King]
- Here are descriptions of some of the magick word-squares from the Book of Abramelin:
- The Ninth Chapter: To transform animals into men, and men into animals; etc: To transform men into asses; into stags or deer; into elephants; into wild boars; into dogs; into wolves; or animals into stones.
- The Fifteenth Chapter: For the spirits to bring us anything we may wish to eat or to drink, and even all (kinds of food) that we can imagine: For them to bring us bread, meat, wine of all kinds, fish, and cheese.
- The Seventeenth Chapter: To fly in the air and travel any whither: In a black cloud; in a white cloud; in the form of an eagle; in the form of a crow (or raven); in the form of a vulture; in the form of a crane.
- The Twenty-Ninth Chapter: To cause armed men to appear: To cause an army to appear; armed men for one’s defense; to cause a siege to appear.
- The Thirtieth Chapter: To cause comedies, operas, and every kind of music and dances to appear: To cause all kinds of music to be heard; music and extravagant balls; for all kinds of instruments to be played; for comedies, farces and operas. [Book of Abramelin: Book III]
- And here are some of the powers of the spirits listed in the Lemegeton’s Goetia:
- The 18th spirit is called Bathin, […] he knoweth the virtue of herbs and precious stones, and can transport men suddenly from one Country into an other…
- The 23rd spirit is called Aim, […] he rideth on a viper, carrying a fire brand in his hand burning, wherewith he sets cities, castles and great places on fire…
- The 28th spirit in order as salomon bound them, is named Berith. […] he can turn all metals into gold…
- The 38th spirit is called Halphas […]; his office is to build up towers and to furnish them with ammunition and weapons, and to send men of war to places appointed…
- The 40th spirit is called Raum, […] his office is to steal treasures out of kings’ houses, and to carry it where he is commanded, and to destroy cities…
- The 42d spirit is Named Vepar […], his office is to guide the waters, and ships laden with armour thereon. He will at the will of the Exorcist cause the seas to be rough and stormy, and to appear full of ships…
Many students have run headlong into these fantastical descriptions, and have questioned what they reveal about the legitimacy of the texts. We don’t tend to scoff at spells that promise to heal a sickness or protect one during travel, but things like levitation, transmutation of metals into gold, and on-demand miracles are usually the purview of con-artists who use occultism as stage-dressing for their scams. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that students have questions about these promises of occult super powers in the grimoires.