On the Shelf – Grimoire to Conjure the Spirit of a Place

Once again, Caduceus Books has delivered another book from the Society of Esoteric Endeavour to the Undisclosed Location. Unlike a previous release, the Grimoire of Pope Honorius (review here), this book – the Grimoire pour Conjurer l’Esprit d’un Lieu – is only known through one copy from the 18th century at the Bibliotheque de l’Arsenal, that Parisian library famous in occult circles for holding the French manuscript from which Mathers translated the Book of the Secret Magic of Abramelin the Mage.

This limited edition version from the Society appears in a limited edition of 80 copies bound in taffeta, incensed and wrapped in a cross of linen. This is as per the instructions in the book itself. Unlike other magical operations, this is an operation very much centered on the preparation, binding, and consecration of the book, a further refinement of the tradition of the Liber Spirituum. The procedure does possess other typical characteristics of grimoires, such as a magical circle and the sacrifice of an animal – in this case, a pig – but the book is clearly the most important piece.

As for the ritual itself, it is to be performed in a place which no person will visit for nine days before and after the ceremony. This is very much in line with many traditions, ancient and modern, that place disruptive spirits or ghosts in liminal areas – that is to say, places at the edges of everyday human experience. I was hoping the author would go into more detail about these spirits – would they be like something out of Clark Ashton Smith’s “Genius Loci“? – but I’ve had no such luck.

The author carries out the rite and allows the spirit, one Maldeschas, to sign the book. He tries to get the spirit to agree to three hundred years of service, but Maldeschas insists on thirty. As a joke, the author rewrites the contract in the grimoire for three hundred, only to see it return to thirty when he isn’t looking. Nonetheless, the spirit agrees to send a servitor whenever someone reads the conjurations aloud from the book, or any one similar, like this one. (In case anyone’s wondering, this review does not cover the existence or efficacy of any servitor spirit.)

There’s more information on the book here, for those who are interested. I’m somewhat skeptical that there’s actually a mention of an “Ass-God” in the book – the Latin doesn’t seem to bear this out – but it’s nonetheless some fascinating background. I hope that this book will be made more widely available to scholars and other fans of magical texts someday.

Published in: on April 7, 2008 at 10:45 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It sounds absolutely beautiful…

  2. […] of the original made by French artist Philippe Pissier, who was also responsible for the Grimoire to Conjure the Spirit of a Place.  We have a large number of charms within, often intended for the care of sheep, though Guidon […]

  3. […] We also have another two works formerly at the Arsenal Library, and now at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France.  The first includes the text of Arsenal MS. 2345, a work on talismans of planetary magic, which shows parallels between the diagrams and other manuscripts.  The second was Arsenal MS. 2494, which was released by Caduceus Books as The Grimoire to Conjure the Spirit of the Place. […]

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