A Grimoire Wish List: Faust’s Magia Naturalis et Innaturalis

One grimoire area of which most English readers – including myself – are largely ignorant is the Faustian tradition.  Though the figure of Doctor Johannes Faust has been one that is familiar to us through literature and folklore, the numerous grimoires attributed to Faust are not well known outside of German-speaking lands.  The only such book translated into English has been this Threefold Harrowing of Hell, an edition often broken up by ads for orgone generators and the like.

What we do know about this tradition comes mostly through E. M. Butler’s Ritual Magic, whose work I will follow here.  According to her, the most infamous of these works was the Magia Naturalis et Innaturalis, a work known to Goethe and reprinted in the nineteenth century by the German publisher Johann Scheible from a manuscript in the library of the Duke of Coburg.  I do have a cheap German edition of this book, though the length and archaic German has prevented me from getting through it.  (There’s also some material in Will-Erich Peuckert’s Pansophie, but based on past experiences with Peuckert’s style, I’d likely be better off reading the original.)

The central piece of the ritual is the summoning of the spirits to sign the magician’s book, the Liber Spirituum, and thereby become subject to his will. The magician must draw a three-tiered circle on linen which is then taken to a crossroads and jumped into, hokey-pokey style. Then potent conjurations, including not just Christian beings, but also the Greek judges of the Underworld and the Erinyes, must be invoked. The magician might merely have them sign his book, or, if he grows ambitious, he might sign a pact with one of them. Conveniently, the Magia Naturalis also contains a spell for extracting one from a pact sworn in haste.

The most noteworthy among the many spirits mentioned are the seven Electors, among whom is Mephistopheles. As best can be told, Mephistopheles is a literary creation taken from the Faust legend and brought to life in the magic therefrom. Each of the other six planetary spirits is also met, taking part in a dialogue with Faust and Mephistopheles. Despite the reputation of Mephistopheles, it is Aciel who comes across as the most puissant of the lot.

Yet demonic operations were not the only contents of the book. One of the rituals Butler describes is designed to invoke the aid of pygmies – not of the African variety, but the tiny spirits of the element of Earth. The magician must leave a fine meal on top of a hill, complete with miniature tables and chairs, on a fine day in May or June. After this is done three times, the pygmies will serve him willingly and bring him treasure (whcih seems to be the main concern with what German magic I have read).

Overall, this is one work that I think English-speaking readers would benefit greatly from having available to them, to demonstrate the origins and extent of the Faustian magical tradition.

Published in: on October 2, 2008 at 10:23 pm  Comments (19)  

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  1. Hello,

    I’m currently working on a translation of “Magia Naturalis….” as well as the Faustian material found in Das Kloster and some other places, It’s a little slow going (with work and school taking up a lot of my time) but I’m hoping to at least have Magia finished during Christmas break. The orgone ads aren’t the only problems with that version of the Threefold Coercion, the graphics are unreadable and the translation is a little “weird.” Trident Books has had a forthcoming translation of the “Threefold” for years now. Wonder what ever happened with that.

    • Did you finish? I’m very interested !!

  2. J. Peterson’s ‘The 6th and 7th Books of Moses’ includes two versions of a text by the same title, in appendices 1 and 9, if I recall.

  3. Theodor,

    That seems to be a later derivation. The original version that I’ve seen is much, much longer.

  4. […] is comprised of works dedicated to the infamous Doctor Faustus.  The most infamous of these, Magia Naturalis et Innaturalis, has yet to be translated, but these works are slowly making their way into English.  A short time […]

  5. […] them up and rendering them usable.This is an example of my work, the seal of archagel Raphael from Faust’s Magia Naturallis et Innaturallis, table 101. The seals and spirit names are extracted from the Heptameron of Pseudo Petrus Apono.I […]

  6. Thanks for the sensible critique. Me &amp my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I am very glad to see such wonderful info being shared freely out there. eeeddgcbeaek

  7. […] Doktor Johannes Faust’s Magia Naturalis et Innaturalis is a grimoire, or spell book, published by Johann Scheible in 1849. (Scheible’s book may be based on another by the same name, published in 1612.) It contains instructions for summoning all sorts of demons, though you’ll need to learn German to get anywhere with it. Daniel Harms, who knows and writes about these things, explains at his blog: […]

  8. […] Stephen was kind enough to personally page through the book with me so I could photograph some of the drawings. […]

  9. A copy of this book, preferably the Johannes schiebles 19th century version is long overdue in English, I can’t understand why this hasn’t been done, because it’s copy rite free, and a good editor could make a fortune

  10. […] new English translation of Faust’s Magia naturalis et innaturalis has just been released.  I have spoken before of the desire for such a release, so I’m quite happy about […]

  11. […] I discussed the appearance of the first translation of the classic Faust-attributed grimoire  Magia naturalis et innaturalis, translated by Nicolás Álvarez Ortiz and published by Enodia Press.  I had some trepidation […]

  12. Do you perhaps know of a used source that sells an english copy?

  13. Do you know of any in depth books on the veve, the haitian vodun, symbols? also, do you know of a book involving the mid 1800s use of cards during carnival in italy, in particular rome to napoli, mid to southern italy not northern italy?

    • I can only answer the first one: regarding a living tradition, I think that the most valuable thing to do would be to speak with someone initiated into that tradition.

      • good point, looking now, not to easy when the topic is rare

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