Long-term Papers readers likely remember my Grimoire Wish List, on which I listed the Magical Treatise of Solomon as one of the key grimoires I wanted to see released in translation. For those not in the know, this is the Byzantine work that later inspired the Western tradition of the Key of Solomon. I’d previously mentioned that a new translation, The Magical Treatise of Solomon or Hygromanteia, had just appeared from Golden Hoard, and my copy finally arrived from Malaysia.
This book is simply amazing. We get not one, but twelve separate works of this title, each one translated from the Greek and arranged with the oldest version first. (To answer one reader’s question, Harleian MS. 5596 is one of them.) The material is quite varied, covering auspicious days and times for various actions, prayers to call up the power of the planets, and ceremonies to evoke spirits. Even though the order of particular items might vary among the texts, the labels therein allow for easy comparisons to be made. Most of the images in the originals are also presented, whether in black and white or full color, as appropriate to the source.
Still on the fence? The book also has a foreword by Stephen Skinner explaining the editorial philosophy behind the book, an introduction by translator Ioannis Marathakis of over one hundred pages in length, a chart showing the overlapping contents of each manuscript, and an index. All of this is excellent.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of this work. For example, it demolishes the last vestiges of the arguments of MacGregor Mathers and Arthur Edward Waite that the Grimorium Verum is a corrupted version of the Key of Solomon. In some respects, in fact, that work is closer to the spirit and contents of the Hygromanteia than the generally-accepted Key ever was. It also contains some comments on the Hygromanteia included in Torijano’s Solomon the Esoteric King that are quite interesting.
This is probably the most significant and important grimoire release this year – or maybe I’ve just forgotten another one. At any rate, it is probably one of my favorite releases in the field.