Though most of the material I’ve seen so far in my section of the Folger manuscript is either a long conjuration or compilation of herbal or planetary lore, I did find one brief section that is a complete rite.
To perform the rite, the magician must only eat bread and drink water for an unspecified time, as well as confessing his sins. On a Monday, in the hour of Mercury (around 9 PM, dependent upon the length of the night), he must go into his bedchamber, where he has laid lignum aloes on his pillow and a lit candle next to his head. Saying an incantation three times that asks the saints to send a messenger, he then lies down. Then his visitor, the spirit Balancus, arrives to give answers to his questions.
There’s not much more to the rite than that, but it leaves open the question of just who this Balancus might be. He is called with the help of the saints, but then again, so are demons in many magical texts. Another parallel might exist in the Grimorium Verum ritual “How to Cause the Appearance of Three Ladies or Three Gentlemen in One’s Room After Supper,” a rite that is really not as kinky as it sounds. Though the nature of these three is not stated in the rite, some authorities believe them to be fairies. Nonetheless, the origins and motivation of Balancus remain a mystery.
This is just one of the puzzles this manuscript presents us. If any of you can think of other parallels, or if you can think of a lead on Balancus, please let me know.