Key of Solomon the King (Clavicula Salomonis)

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Key of Solomon the King (Clavicula Salomonis)

A grimoire textbook on magicof medieval origin. It is supposed to be the work of Solomon, but is manifestly of later origin and was probably written in either the fourteenth or fifteenth century. A number of manuscripts have survived. There are stories of a book of magic spells ascribed to Solomon as early as the first century C.E. ; the historian Flavius Josephus stated that Eleazar the Jew exorcised devils with Solomon's book. Stories of a ring of Solomon's are also found in the Arabian Nights.

The Key is not an authentic Jewish work, since it contains ancient concepts that may date from earlier semitic or Babylonian times. It may have come to Europe through Gnostic channels and mixed with later kabalistic notions.

In its popular form, its chief use appears to be in finding treasure and performing magic rites with the purpose of interfering with the free will of others. The power of the Divine Name is much in evidence, but the work appears to combine elements of both white and black magic.

The Lemegeton (Lesser Key of Solomon) is much more noteworthy. Its earliest examples date from the seventeenth century, and it invokes the hierarchies of the abyss by legions and millions. It is divided into four parts that enable the operator to control the offices of all spirits.

The first part, Göetia, contains forms of conjuration for 72 demons with an account of their powers and offices; the second, Theurgia Göetia, deals with the spirits of the cardinal points, which are of mixed nature; the third, the Pauline Art (the significance of the name is unaccountable), deals with the angels of the hours of the day and night and with the signs of the zodiac; and the fourth, Almadel, enumerates four other choirs of spirits. The operator is required to live a pure life, and none of the conjurations may be applied to the injury of another.


The Greater Key of Solomon. Translated by S. L. MacGregor Mathers. 1909. Reprint, Chicago: De Laurence, 1914. Reprint, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972.

The Lesser Key of Solomon/Göetia/The Book of Evil Spirits. Chicago: De Laurence, 1916.

Shah, Indres. The Secret Love of Magic. London: Frederick Muller, 1957. Reprint, London: Abacus, 1972.

Waite, Arthur E. The Book of Ceremonial Magic. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1961.