The Veritable Key of Solomon

By Stephen Skinner and David Rankine

Published by Golden Hoard, (October 2008) available in a half-leather collectors edition (limited to 350), and a full leather Deluxe edition (limited to 25).

The Key of Solomon is the most famous and infamous of all the Grimoires and books of magic ever produced. Yet amazingly only one version of it has ever been published, which was compiled from diverse sections drawn from seven different manuscripts in 1889 by S.L. MacGregor Mathers, the occult scholar who was one of the founders of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Stephen Skinner and David Rankine have explored the labyrinthine trail of manuscripts of the Key of Solomon around the world, and after studying dozens of manuscripts, decided on the two which best represent this grimoire tradition to provide the widest range of material in their new work, The Veritable Key of Solomon. The book reproduces the Keys from Wellcome MS 4669 and MS 4670, two previously overlooked French manuscripts scribed for a French aristocrat in 1796, and here translated into English for the first time. They are not the earliest, but they are the most detailed,containing three separate Keys which cover a wealth of material not found in the Mathers’ edition. These Keys are The Keys of Rabbi Solomon, The Key of Solomon King of the Hebrews and The Universal Treatise of the Keys of Solomon. One of these manuscripts was the one referred to by Bulwer-Lytton in his classic nineteenth century magical novel of initiation, Zanoni, and another one contains an early version of the material later found in the Grimorium Verum.

Example of a colour plate from the Veritable Key of Solomon by Skinner and RankineThe fame of the Key of Solomon probably stems from the fact that it was the closest thing available to a manual for the aspiring or practising magician wishing to evoke angels and demons during the Renaissance. Everything from how to construct the magic circle, how to determine the most auspicious times, what perfumes were most conducive to burn, how to prepare your tools, what prayers and conjurations should be used, how to make and use the pentacles which acted as magical foci for the appropriate intent, indeed all aspects of the process and practices were included. The Veritable Key of Solomon shows the influence of the Heptameron on these practices more clearly than the previous Mathers text, through such elements as magic circles, perfumes, seals and including all the planetary circles for the seasons. It is illustrated in colour, with more than twice as many talismanic pentacles as were produced in the nineteenth century text, and also is more inclusive of earlier material such as the Olympic Spirits, Planetary Intelligences and Spirits. These Keys contain the most comprehensive collection of practical planetary grimoire material ever seen in a book and greatly expand the scope of information available to students and practitioners.

The Veritable Key of Solomon also features a commentary on the provenance of the different families of Key of Solomon manuscripts, tracing their use through Renaissance Europe, and exploring the effects they had on society around them as they were copied and transmitted into ever wider circles. The Introduction includes commentary on all the families of manuscripts including the earlier Greek manuscripts, as well as a study of the other books attributed to Solomon. The appendixes include a list of the known Key of Solomon manuscripts and incorrectly attributed manuscripts. The huge number of extant manuscripts (more than 120) clearly demonstrates that the Key of Solomon was the most significant magical book for several hundred years from the late sixteenth through to the nineteenth century, and this work finally restores the Key of Solomon tradition back to its place in the heart of the magical revival.

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The ordinary hardback edition can also be pre-ordered from Llewellyn – this is a black and white edition, as opposed to the full colour editions available from