On 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 concentrated on how this was a practitioner’s book and some of the pitfalls of that genre.  I’ll now concentrate on the second:  the difficulties with historical readings.

This isn’t to say that I’m not open to different historical readings, or challenges to orthodox opinion.  Nonetheless, I do ask that the reasons leading to these be well thought-out.  As many practitioners don’t have the training of historians, it’s not surprising when some of their arguments fall flat.

Let’s take an example from the True Grimoire to show what I mean, and to mitigate any claims of harshness, I’ll pick one that includes an insight that I found to be solid.

At one point, Stratton-Kent mentions the French cleric Urbain Grandier, who was burned at the stake in 1634 for making a pact with the devil.  Unlike many such cases, this case actually included as a piece of evidence the pact itself, a reproduction of which can be seen here.  Stratton-Kent notices the similarities between the sigil at the top and that of the demon Silcharde in the Grimorium Verum.   The two sigils do indeed have a striking similarity.  He goes on to find that, while similar sigils are found in the Grimoire of Honorius, the closest versions are found in the French edition of the Grimorium.

Here’s where the author gets into trouble, though:

The origin of the [Grimorium Verum] can also be no later than the trial of Grandier and the first publication of Honorius

That’s simply not the case.  It could be that the seal placed in Grandier’s contract came from the GV, as Stratton-Kent asserts.  It’s also possible that the seal in the GV was based on the one in the contract.  It could even be that both have their origins from the same tradition of magical manuscripts that are only known today through a few survivals, including Honorius, the pact, and GV.  There’s nothing about one that requires the other to derive from it, as far as I can see.

Then what’s a practitioner book good for?  I’ll answer that next time.

Published in: on May 1, 2009 at 11:24 pm  Comments (15)  

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  1. please note an error in the text above, the demon in question is not Scirlin but Sirchade. The sigil on Grandier’s pact is much, much more similar to the GV form than to Honorius, and illustrations of four variants are supplied in order to enable the reader to make up their own minds.

  2. Oh dear! Let me fix that.

  3. 😉 nice, now take a look at the wording used, ‘in something akin to the present form’ and ‘the origin of’. These are qualifiers, so the terms used aren’t black and white, they do take into account missing elements of the ‘paper trail’. At the same time the balance of evidence considered at various points in the book shows Honorius to be dependent on the traditions in Verum rather than vice versa. This argues for an earlier date for those traditions than the date of the first printed edition of Verum.

  4. I’m willing to acknowledge the qualifiers; I’m just having trouble with the use of them to set the date of the book itself. As for Honorius, I’d want to sit down with my electronic copies of the various editions to take a closer look. (That’s why I didn’t delve into that above.) Nonetheless, establishing that Grimorium Verum is the source of Honorius dates it relatively, not absolutely – at least, until we narrow down a more precise date for Honorius. Davies mentions copies circulating around 1700, but I’m not certain how that corresponds to the texts that have come down to us. Perhaps a future release in your series will address this?

  5. regarding the three ladies/gentlemen in your room, you got me bang to rights, should have explained the omission. The relevant material will be in Volume Two, as part of another connected topic.

  6. no absolutes are implied, I give a whole century of leeway. However I’m far less than convinced it is 21 yrs later than the KoS texts with similar spirits as has been suggested. It looks more like they depend on an earlier Verum than vice versa to me.

    Incidentally all the texts of Honorius seem to be quite distinct.

  7. Nice essay Harms. I look forward to reading more of your opinions on the subject.Yet I must also send a note of thanks to Stratton-Kent for the work that you are doing in the field of Occult Research.

  8. you’re welcome, writing the kind of books I’d like to read is becoming a vocation 😉

    Like what Dan is doing here too, and it isn’t too often you get to have a dialogue a reviewer.

  9. Yes I know what you mean Jake. Harms has a way of keeping you on your toes in a good way. I know this from personal experience-lol! http://www.warlockasylum.com

  10. […] 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 I’ll be […]

  11. […] 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 definite […]

  12. […] 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 (written […]

  13. […] 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 […]

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

  15. I’ve allways felt it rather obvious that the Grimorium Verum arose from certain aspects of French “popular culture” such as the trial of Urbain Grandier, Gabalais, the Armadel, and a simplified KoS as some of the most obvious examples.
    I think Jackes works have their ups and downs and with this book in particular their are some things I just can’t jive with, such as attrributing the diagram of what is obviously the circle to the seal of scirlin. Another example would be the knife made in the hour of Jupiter, which should really be an iron engraving tool.
    That said I’m sure his system works well for him…

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