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.