I’ve finally had a chance to sit down with the new edition of The Clavis or Key to the Magic of Solomon from Ibis Press, and I wanted to share my thoughts.
For those who haven’t been reading Papers, I’ve been working on research with A Complete Book of Magic Science, a ceremony to summon the spirit Turiel (or Pabiel – it varies between manuscripts) as created by the 19th century mystic Frederick Hockley (more on that here and here). This book was often bound in manuscripts of an English edition of the famous grimoire, the Key of Solomon, which had passed through the hands of the famous eighteenth-century astrologer and physician Ebenezer Sibly. The bookseller John Denley got hold of this and commissioned Hockley and other scribes to create new editions of the Key, along with some older spirit operations, the Complete Book, and other works of interest to his customers.
Got that? Good.
Another facsimile of the Sibly/Hockley Clavis has appeared this year from the Caduceus Books and the Society of Esoteric Endeavour. Nonetheless, the new edition has two major differences. First, the copy reproduced in the Ibis edition contains the Complete Book of Magic Science, which the SEE edition does not. Second, while the SEE attempts to reproduce its copy as it appears with no modern additions, the Ibis edition includes an extensive introduction, endnotes, commentary, and bibliography by Joseph Peterson, keeper of the Esoteric Archives website and the editor of such recent works as the Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses (review starts here), the Arbatel (here) and the Grimorium Verum (and here). If you’ve seen those works, you know the Peterson’s work is going to be thorough and top-notch. Not only does he present a full-color facsimile edition of the full text, but also a summary of the many Keys that have been turning up recently and their similarities and differences to the manuscript at hand, along with the likely sources of the manuscript and even notes as to errors propagated within the text. As with Peterson’s other books, this is one that both scholars and practitioners will love.
This is my top choice as a Christmas/Hanukkah/Yule/Kwanzaa/Mithrastide/Gurnerthar’s Ascendance present for the occultist who has everything.