On the Shelf Review – The Sepher Raziel

The latest release in Golden Hoard Press‘s Sourceworks of Ceremonial Magic series is the Sepher Raziel: Liber Salomonis, a transcription of Sloane MS. 3826 from the 16th century.  It should be stated up front that this work is distinct from the Hebrew “Sefer Raziel” tradition, the most notable example in English being Savedow’s Sepher Rezial Hemelach.

The title links the book both to Raziel, the Angel of Secrets, who supposedly provided sacred wisdom to Adam, and Solomon, the Biblical king known for his wisdom and mastery of demons.  The bulk of the book consists of seven treatises on various magical topics:  astrology; the natural magic of herbs, stones, and animals; incense; ritually significant times; ritual cleanliness; the names of the heavens and their angels; and magical words given for various purposes.   Though the book alludes to summoning spirits, no procedures for it are given.  The work is a theoretical one that could be used in practical magical purposes, and is comparable to the three books of Agrippa, though of more limited scope.

It should be noted that Donn Karr has already made the transcribed text of this work available online, so the question becomes why we might purchase this book.  A number of other items have been added to the text to enhance its value.    Most notable is a rendering of the text into modern English, which makes the text more accessible for casual readers.  It also includes an expanded edition of Karr’s essay on sources on Solomonic magic (original online here),  an introduction to the various Raziel traditions, a history of the manuscript, a chart of the angels and incenses listed therein, and a mostly-thorough index.

My overall sense of the work is that its publication will likely prove to be more significant as time goes on.  For instance, the book is referred to repeatedly in the Folger Manuscript, and it would be interesting to examine how this work links up with the theoretical and practical books of magic from the same period.   I still have some reservations about recommending it to the magician on a budget, seeing as how available much of it is, but I’d encourage people to buy it nonetheless so we can see more books in this series.


Published in: on November 30, 2010 at 4:37 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks for the review, I’ve got this on my list 🙂
    Also do you know if there’s a difference between the one on Golden Hoard Press’ site and the Llewellyn Publications one on amazon?

    • My understanding is that Llewellyn is serving as a distributor for the book. I think a deluxe leatherbound edition is available directly from Golden Hoard, along with the hardcover.

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