Grimoires and Ritual Murder

Travis asks:

This actually reminded me of something my wife asked me the other day. She’s working on a novel and wanted me to research ancient ritual murders for her (not necessarily plain old human sacrifices, but like that one in the Picatrix which are designed to produce a specific result). Do you have any suggestions for good resources?

On the grimoire front – and indeed, that of Western ceremonial magic in general – there’s precious little in this area.  Though they include animal sacrifices aplenty, there’s very few times in which Western magic has actually called for murder.  The reasons are likely pragmatic – though it’s a powerful act, few people will perform a ritual that requires them to kill someone, and the number who can do so and not get caught are much smaller.

The Picatrix is the only rite like it known in the corpus of magic.   Slightly more common is a component that requires someone to be killed.  Both the Magical Treatise and the Simon Necronomicon require a blade that has killed a person or people for a ritual therein.  The Magical Treatise also requires incense in which the blood of a murdered person is an accepted agreement.  Technically, of course, in medieval times such weaons would likely have been more available than today.

I should add that one other occult authority, Eliphas Levi, claimed that a much broader swath of grimoires referred to human sacrifice.   According to his book The Key to the Great Mysteries, references in books such as the Grimoire of Honorius to the sacrifice of a virgin goat in fact refer to a human child.  The general consensus is that either Levi was making this up, or he was revealing a deep secret of the adepts that none might speak of save in a sensationalistic personal anecdote.  Either way, it doesn’t sound very plausible.

Beyond that, the field on the subject is wide open to all manner of times and places, especially when we start including rumor and folklore into the mix.  I don’t know of a good treatment in general, but the Matamoros killings, the kun krak, and the tales from Roman times of ritual child murder might be good places to start.

I should add that all of this is for the purposes of scholarship or entertainment only.  Always take the words of one of my RPG players to heart:  “I have to remember not to kill innocent people for no good reason.”

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Published in: on September 23, 2008 at 6:39 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank you, much appreciated.

  2. […] Putting aside my editorial issues, this is really an excellent book showcasing a wide variety of operations.  The first section includes short rituals intended to uncover thieves, bring love, and heal afflictions.   Of especial interest are several rites intended to bring the reader a spirit familiar; I believe this is the largest collection of such ceremonies I have seen yet.  Most of the rites are innocuous, but some include gruesome ingredients, like the human rib I previously mentioned or a sword that has killed a man (a surprising discovery, given the rarity of rituals requiring death in the grimoire tradition). […]


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