Pet Peeves

One of the benefits – or drawbacks – of having your own occult/Lovecraft/gaming blog is that your life ends up not being quite like other people’s. Thus, I present two of my pet peeves.

Quoting Mathers’ Key of Solomon: As most occultists know, 19th century occultist and Scottish nationalist Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers was responsible for the editing and translation of the Key of Solomon, the first edition of which was published by George Redway in 1889. This has become what we might consider the standard edition of the Key of Solomon, being available both for sale and for free online and become a staple of occult libraries.

What most people don’t realize is that Mathers’ Key is actually his own idiosyncratic compilation of various sources that omits some operations, adds a number, and reflects numerous editorial choices on his part. Joe Peterson goes into this more here and here.

All of this is fine – but here’s what I don’t get. Why do scholars – legitimate ones, mind you, who write for peer-reviewed journals, who work routinely with documents from centuries past, and who make me look like a rank amateur – head straight for the Mathers edition every time they run into a mention of the Key in an older source? I keep seeing this in my reading – people start quoting from Mathers instead of looking at contemporary versions that the people they’re talking about would have actually been reading. They don’t even acknowledging that it’s a composite edition. Does nobody even read the introduction?

Asking for Newly-Published Stuff for Free: Sure, the Internet’s a big place. Sure, you can get a lot of stuff for free on it, much of which shouldn’t be out there.  But if you have to draw the line, please buy the new books.  Don’t look for the newest grimoire edition online in PDF – I can see in the stats when you do.  It’s probably not there, and you should really support the authors.

That’s all I’ve got.

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Published in: on February 12, 2008 at 10:47 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. I didn’t know this about Mathers’ version of the Key of Solomon, but I guess I am not surprised. I just finished reading an article that said that Waite’s translations of certain alchemical texts–which are still pretty much the only ones available–were based on corrupted texts, he cut parts out, and he added stuff he made up. Nice.


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