The “Red Dragon,” a book perhaps most notable for not mentioning any such beast, is a late-period grimoire that has been passed down to us in French, Italian, and Spanish editions. Also known as the Grand Grimoire, this procedure for making an infernal pact has been labelled the most infamous work of magic ever written, just like every other grimoire. It most recently has gained attention for becoming incorporated into the ritual repertoire of the Dragon Rouge, the Scandinavian occult order that is the subject of Granholm’s Embracing the Dark. The latest English translation has just been released from Teitan Press, and I’ll be taking a look at it here, in conjunction with the Trident Books edition of the Grand Grimoire. (There’s also a paperback edited by Darcy Kuntz, apparently reprinted from Waite’s sections in The Book of Ceremonial Magic, which I have yet to see.)
First, however, we have a piece of business to take care of. The translator of the book, an occultist who admits passable knowledge of French, is operating under the pseudonym Joshua A. Wentworth. As some might recall, another English translation of the Red Dragon was to be published by Magickal Childe by an individual operating under the pseudonym of “Simon.” That work never materialized. Having no idea as to whether these individuals are one and the same, I will simply ignore the whole issue and move forward.
After a brief introduction describing some of the book’s background and the hunt for the original from which it was taken, we move into the Grimoire proper. For those not familiar with the Red Dragon, the book consists of three parts. In the first, the magician conjures up the demon Lucifuge Rofocale and threatens him with a blasting rod unless he signs a pact that is to the magician’s advantage. The second is another pact with Lucifuge Rofocale for those who couldn’t bother with the effort to make the blasting rod, and the third is a section of brief charms for those who want to bypass Lucy entirely, including the Black Pullet, in which the magician sacrifices a chicken at a crossroads to form yet another pact. The book contains Latin passages, which are translated in the footnotes, and occasional annotations on the translation or baffling elements of the text. The whole is followed with a facsimile of the original French edition.
In comparison to the Trident edition, I find this one preferable. The translations, introduction, and annotations are helpful for using the text, and the Trident barely contains any such material. The two books come from different sources – the Trident edition is from the Italian – and the set of recipes near the end is slightly different for both. One major omission in the Teitan edition is the experiment for bringing three women to one’s room to impart mystical knowledge. The Trident edition also includes variants for the seals of the various demons within. Nonetheless, both offer advantages that the other does not. I should note that the Teitan is the less expensive version, however.
I would be remiss if I did not note that other French editions of this book, such as that of Pierre Belfond, have extensive material not present herein. Then again, much of it is dowsing, astrology, the beauty secrets of Cleopatra, etc., so it’s not as if you’re missing out on much from that material.
As is usual, by this point you should know whether this book will meet with your needs or desires, so I’ll leave the matter there.