Having mentioned the Caduceus edition of the Key of Solomon yesterday, I made a valiant effort and finished off the book today.
To summarize the material at the previous link, the book seems to have been translated into English from French by Ebenezer Sibley or Sibly (depending upon your source), a late 18th century occultist best known for A New and Complete Illustration of the Occult Sciences (1787), part of which is reproduced here. It then passed through the shop of our favorite bookseller John Denley, who had several copies made, possibly by the crystal-gazer Frederick Hockley. This particular book reproduces a copy from the library of Hockley’s friend, Francis G. Irwin, who also owned that Grimoire of Honorius that Caduceus previously published.
First, I should note that it is truly as beautiful as it’s described at the above link, and the reproduction thereof is wonderful. Even the few pages at the end of the notebook that bear no writing are faithfully reproduced, down to the lines and foxing. It’s simply an amazing piece of work. There is a trade off here, as there was with the previous edition of the Grimoire of Honorius, in that no prefatory material or background is actually included with the text.
The book’s main focus is the creation of planetary talismans, to be placed on parchment or metal, that embody the energy of each planet for particular purposes. The book also includes instructions for creating a ring to attract the same planetary forces, four different operations intended to call up individual spirits – Bael, Vassago, Agares, and Bealphares – and the Wheel of Wisdom, a diagram intended to show how the various planets correspond to other aspects of creation.
In terms of quality, the copyist was not as careful as he could have been. At one point, the Olympian spirit Phul from the Arbatel has been rendered as “Ugh.” Another talisman, as Phil pointed out to me, guards against the “assaults of treasures.” This, of course, raises questions as to just how faithful the talismans themselves are to the originals, for those among my readers who care about such matters.
The obvious question for many, especially in the present economy, will be how this pricey edition of the Key differs from Skinner and Rankine’s own pricey edition of the Key (both of which were around $180 last I checked). All in all, Skinner and Rankine’s work covers considerably more ground; the Caduceus edition covers only the first ten chapters of the first of three Keys in the other, and the scholarly apparatus in the Golden Hoard edition is significant. On the other hand, the Golden Hoard edition isn’t a facsimile, it doesn’t link up with Sibly, Denley, and Hockley, and it doesn’t include the rites following (though it might have the ring ritual, and I think the Wheel appears in a book by Waite). The selection of planetary talismans is similar in both, though both have particular ones not present in the other.
As usual for my reviews, by now you know whether you want to buy this, but remember that previous books from Caduceus have sold out quickly.