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The Book of Black Magic and Ceremonial Magic

The Secret Tradition in Goetia, including the rites and mysteries of Goetic therugy, sorcery and infernal necromancy. Completely illustrated with the original magical figures. Partial Contents: Antiquity of Magical Rituals; Rituals of Transcendental Magic; Composite Rituals; Key of Solomon; Lesser Key of Solomon; Rituals of Black Magic; Complete Grimoire; Preparation of the Operator; Initial Rites and Ceremonies; Descending Hierarchy; Mysteries of Goetic Theurgy; Mystery of the Sanctum Regnum; Method of Honorius.

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2 comments on “The Book of Black Magic and Ceremonial Magic

  1. Ian Myles Slater on: An Old Standard Arthur Edward Waite (1860-1942) was a professed mystic, an historian of mysticism, alchemy, magic, and secret societies, an industrious translator, and a man unusually willing to turn 180 degrees from a published opinion when faced with new and better evidence. His variously titled “Book of Black Magic and of Pacts” (1898, privately printed; public edition, 1911), or “Book of Ceremonial Magic,” etc. (it is currently in print under the latter title as well), shows Waite rejecting the misinformation and misrepresentations of his old source and model, “Eliphas Levi” (real name Alphonse Louis Constant, c.1810-1875) and his sometime-associate in the Order of the Golden Dawn, S.L. MacGregor Mathers (1854-1918), and trying to offer the interested public a responsible survey of the literature of ceremonial magic. The book in question, under a variety of similar titles, is frequently reprinted, although it is now very badly dated. Most of those editions I have seen seemed to be identical; I can’t be sure of all them. The present, Weiser, edition, seems to be a reprinting of the original, somewhat shorter, and apparently less (or un-)illustrated, edition of 1898. (I would like to be clearer, but it’s been several years since I actually handled it, and, to judge from information on Amazon, some of my recollections of it seem to have been wrong.)In any version, the book also contains a number of oversights and errors of fact, but it retains considerable value and interest, and is worth reading with care, and *critical* attention. Waite makes interesting points on the presuppositions of the genuinely early grimoires (books of spells and rituals) which he describes and excerpts, and useful comments on the (un)reliability of the then-current translations, many of which have been reprinted in recent years. Anyone attempting to use it as guide to practicing such magic should heed Waite’s warning that he has taken care to present an incomplete or corrupt form of any ritual involving harm to animals, rendering the spells, by the magical hypothesis, ineffective; entirely out of concern for the animals, not the would-be-magicians, he explains. Indeed, Waite has little patience with the operative magician in general, and with those who supply the demand for spellbooks in particular. He points out that, in terms of procedures and intentions, the magical literature allows no real distinction between “white” and “black” magic; indeed, what is presented as “white” magic, is, by making direct use of religious rites and objects, sometimes the more objectionable. He also points out that the medieval and early modern magicians generally seemed unaware that what they were doing could be considered blasphemous. Among its other merits, Waite’s book provides extended excerpts and illustrations from the leading pseudo-grimoires published in cheap editions in (mainly) France in the nineteenth century. He points out the origins of some of these tracts in more respectable “occult” writings of the eighteenth century. (A rather wavering line probably could now be drawn back all the way to the Hermetic enthusiasts of the Renaissance, and ultimately to Hellenistic Egypt, but all genuine Egyptian content, except mention of the Pyramids and Pharaohs, had vanished along the way.) Waite attempts, albeit with inadequate data, to establish the medieval date and Christian origins of the various “Books” and “Keys” of Solomon, a task still not complete in detail, and compares these texts to explicitly Christian works, some masquerading as highly effective devotions. The book is concerned with the relatively elite practice of ritual magic, including its many vulgarizations, and not with European witchcraft, nor with Satanism as such. As Waite points out, the grimoires promise to teach how to compel, bribe, and trick devils, not worship them (although from a theological point of view, as he makes equally clear, the distinction is meaningless). Pacts are attempts to force supernatural beings to serve humans, not promises of one’s own soul — except where the intention is to break the pact. The nearest successor to Waite’s book to appear in English was Elizabeth M. Butler’s “Ritual Magic,” first published by Cambridge University Press in 1949, and recently reprinted. It shows a dependence on Waite (in the 1898 edition, with the original page numbering) for materials unavailable to its author in wartime and post-war Britain, but has considerable additional material on actual and supposed magicians (including Gilles de Rais), and on nineteenth century magicians, pseudo-magicians, Satanists, pseudo-Satanists, and hoaxes, and provides an invaluable context for understanding Waite’s writings. Her book can be read as a follow-up, if not an introduction. Butler, more importantly, fills a gap in Waite’s coverage. “Ritual Magic” offers a good discussion of the various German (and…

  2. Decent, but a bit decieving If you’ve already got “The Book of Ceremonial Magick,” then you don’t need this. This book includes the second half of the aforementioned volume, and nothing more. Also, the writing style is a bit strange, very archaic, and includes mostly essays about Magick and different types of spiritual practices. Not exactly useful for anyone getting into Magick for the first time, but it does include information on the darker side, and probably what to avoid doing if you don’t want to get bad karma.

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