On the Shelf Review – Hygromanteia

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.


Published in: on November 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm  Comments (11)  

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  1. Twelve versions of Hygromanteia! Yes! When you say “most of the images in the originals are also presented…” does that mean the omitted images are unnecessary and/or duplicates, or am I going to miss them?

    • I recall at one point where I saw “[image]” listed in the text, perhaps of the first document, without being able to find the said image in the nearby material. It’s possible I missed something, but I thought I’d hedge my bets to be sure rather than comb my way back through.

      In general, though, I’m very happy with the presentation of the images, and most readers should be as well.

  2. Thanks for the review and the reply 🙂

  3. I received my copy of Golden Hoard’s Hygromanteia a few weeks ago and I am very impressed. One image does seem to be omitted and I’m not sure if it was on purpose (the symbols do pertain to a necromantic rite) or by accident. For such a scholarly edition I was sorely disappointed by this, and I hope it was not left out intentionally. I would like to contact Mr. Marathakis for an explanation before I write my review on Amazon mentioning this omission. Aside from that, I cannot express enough how well researched and clearly presented this book is.

  4. If you refer to the character mentioned in p. 120, line 11, it is omitted by accident, since figure 14 was shortened during pagination. I will post the sign in the facebook page of Hygromanteia in the next few days.


    If there is yet another omission, please tell me the page, and I will post it as well.

    • Thank you for the fast reply! I had not noticed the missing character on figure 14, thanks for pointing it out. I was referring to the “two signs and a hexagram” to be written on the skulls forehead (page 125) and the “two signs” in line 1 on page 126. The text and symbols are said to be on f. 349, of which there is no illustration. For all I know the two signs are crosses or something mentioned in the text elsewhere, and I assume the two signs are the same in both instances. I really appreciate your response, and the fact that you are willing to upload missing characters speaks volumes about you as an author!
      Looking forward to your response,

      • Hi Stephen,

        Oh, I forgot about this. As regards the particular spell, I initially did not intend to include it in the book, due to its difference from the other necromancies. Spells are numerous, and I only cited the ones that appear in more than one manuscripts. Yet, the decision which spells are variations or totally different ones was sometimes difficult.

        When I finally decided to include it for the sake of comparison, the book was almost at the printer and I had not even ordered the photo from the University Library of Bologna. I preferred to include it without the signs than omit it completely.

        I still do not have the photo, so I can’t upload it immediately. But I intend to do this in the next two or three months. Thank you for your message.


  5. Thank you, I will be keeping an eye on the Hygromanteia facebook page!

  6. […] of magical texts, beginning with the magical papyri, leading to the key Greek magical text, the Hygromanteia, from the Byzantine world to Western Europe, where it transformed into the Clavicula Salomonis, or […]

  7. Hi,there!

  8. […] Review of The Hygromanteia from Dan Harms […]

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