On the Shelf: The Goetia of Dr. Rudd, Part 1

Amazon recommendations are always hit-or-miss for me. I tend to buy my gifts through Amazon, with the effect that they keep telling me about great mystery novels and cookbooks. Their most recent recommendation turned out to be The Goetia of Dr. Rudd, edited by Stephen Skinner and David Rankine and forming the third in the Sourceworks of Ceremonial Magic series.

For those who aren’t in the know, the Goetia is a text dealing with the summoning and control of evil spirits from a longer work called the Lemegeton, or the Lesser Key of Solomon. It’s been made infamous from the English translation made largely by MacGregor Mathers and shamelessly ripped off by Aleister Crowley. As the cover makes clear, the book also includes the other three treatises from the Lemegeton, dealing with spirits that are more pleasant all around. That’s what the book says, anyway.

Some of you might be saying, “Didn’t Joe Peterson turn out his own version of the Lemegeton not too long ago?” He did, but that version is out of print now. This particular manuscript – Harley MS. 6483 at the British Library – had at least one feature that made it unusual: the insertion of the angels of the Shemhamphorasch. For the uninitiated, this means lining up the Hebrew letters of each verse from 19 to 21 of Exodus 14 (verse 20 in reverse), each of which contains 72 letters. Reading the columns then creates seventy-two names thought to be names of different angels.

What Rudd’s Goetia does is to associate each of the seventy-two demons in the book with an angel from the Shemhamphorasch. Thus, when making the seal of a demon for its conjuration, the magician writes the name of the angel and a verse from a Psalm on the opposite side. The theory is that this allows for a more stable procedure, as the magician has an angel backing him up for each demon.

Skinner is inclined to see this as an elaboration of an important ceremonial technique that has been lost to the ages save in a few manuscripts. I think someone noticed that the number of demons matched the number of angels and got creative. This indicates a fundamental difference in our perspectives that I think often gets Skinner in trouble.

This particular manuscript has been known for many years, and such occult luminaries as Aleister Crowley, Arthur Edward Waite, and Frances Yates. I’ll be delving into their works a little later, in order to illuminate a crucial question that astute readers have likely already asked.

Who is Doctor Rudd?

UPDATE, April 8, 2008:  I notice a large number of hits from this thread on Lashtal linking here.  For your convenience, here are links to Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6,  and Part 7, as well as this update.

I’ve yet to hear back from David Rankine on all of this.  It’s already been said that he’s addressed another writer’s criticisms on his Facebook forum.  If anyone sees a critique of the above there, would someone mind forwarding it to me?

Published in: on October 27, 2007 at 10:45 am  Comments (9)  

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  1. […] 1st, 2007 at 7:06 pm (Occult) In our last two sections, we sought out the identity of the mysterious Dr. Rudd, the supposed source of a […]

  2. […] pm (Necronomicon, Occult, Readings) I think I will go ahead and write Skinner and Rankine about our series of posts on Dr. […]

  3. […] There’s quite the controversy over at Lashtal over The Goetia of Dr. Rudd and my posts on the topic.  To simplify matters for readers, I want to put up a letter I sent […]

  4. Just to let you know I’ve posted a teaser of a critique of David Rankine’s reply to my review at http://www.lashtal.com/nuke/index.php?name=PNphpBB2&file=viewtopic&p=30291#30291

  5. […] identity of Dr. Rudd in the discussion surrounding The Goetia of Dr. Rudd (for the full story, go here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).  According to Skinner and Rankine in that work, […]

  6. I finally got around to writing a reply to those comments by David Rankine, available here:

  7. I note that Sorita d’Este has now withdrawn David Rankine’s comments from the Facebook group where they were posted. I suppose that’s about as much as I can expect by way of response.

  8. I had to bookmark this site, its awesome!

  9. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Rudd

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