On the Shelf Review – The True Grimoire, Part 1

I finished my copy of Jake Stratton-Kent’s The True Grimoire, his edition of the Grimorium Verum.  Given that I just reviewed Joe Peterson’s edition not six months ago, the first question is what each edition brings to the budget-conscious grimoire buyer.

This one is pretty easy.  Peterson’s text is what could be termed a scholarly edition – plentiful footnotes, texts in the original language with the translation, notes as to variant editions, and the like.  Stratton-Kent’s is a practitioner’s book – one written by someone who’s worked some form of the book’s magic, and aimed at an audience that seeks to practice the book’s contents.

As a quick clarification, I am not saying that practitioners must write practitioner’s books, as they certainly can write scholarly works. Also, a practitioner’s book might nonetheless present scholarly insights into past topics, and would be of scholarly interest if for no other reason than as a manifestation of how malleable the grimoire tradition truly is.  Nonetheless, such book usually have two shortcomings:

  1. In many cases, the book won’t “show the math” – that is to say, decisions are made about the text’s contents and presentation without explaining why they have been made, or even that they have been made at all.
  2. When the author does dip into the field of history, the assumptions made therein are often based on faulty reasoning.

How does Jake Stratton-Kent’s text measure up?  I’ll begin with the first criteria – does it explain the changes that are made?

As a matter of fact, Stratton-Kent does do a pretty good job of this.  For example, one trait of the Grimorium Verum manuscripts is that none of them have as many sigils as the demons named in the text.  Stratton-Kent goes to great lengths to set up his own set of sigils, providing detailed reasons for his attribution of each sigil to each name.  I doubt there’s any historical way to explain it, and his attributions might be debatable – but he provides his grounds for doing so.

For the most part, this material is presented throughout the book – not as thoroughly as I might like, mind you, but it’s there.  Some omissions do exist.  For instance, both the French and Italian editions include a magical experiment that Peterson translates as “To make three ladies or three gentlemen come to your room after supper.”  Not only is this spell absent from Stratton-Kent’s version, no note as to the decision exists anywhere.  Thus, those who want to see the original versions will still need Peterson’s version.

Next time, we discuss the second point.

Published in: on April 27, 2009 at 4:25 pm  Comments (7)  

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  1. […] the Shelf Review – The True Grimoire, Part 2 In our first part, I began my discussion of the new edition of the Grimorium Verum by Jake Stratton-Kent.  I […]

  2. […] to keep to one post a day, when I can post.  Seeing an excellent new release like this means that my series on The True Grimoire is pushed back another day.   This isn’t fair to Jake Stratton-Kent, as […]

  3. […] the Shelf Review – The True Grimoire, Part 3 Following my last two posts on Jake Stratton-Kent’s The True Grimoire from Scarlet Imprint, I should state one […]

  4. […] for using the Key of Solomon variant known as the Grimorium Verum (as presented by Peterson and Stratton-Kent) for […]

  5. […] of Scarlet Imprint’s  The True Grimoire, or Grimorium Verum, which I reviewed previously in three parts.  I ordered his three pamphets Goetic Divination, Elelogap, and Goetic Pharmakos […]

  6. […] This is the latest work by Jake Stratton-Kent, the author of the True Grimoire (here’s Parts 1, 2, and 3 of my review), forming an attempt to create new significances for the practitioners of […]

  7. […] series, The Testament of Cyprian the Mage.  This work follows the True Grimoire (review here and here) and Geosophia (review and […]

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