Newly Translated Grimoires

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obnoxion
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Newly Translated Grimoires

Postby obnoxion » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:00 am

Recent years have brought us translations of some remarkable grimoires. There are now two translations of that most legendary grimoire, The Picatrix - one by John Michael Green and Christopher Warnock for practicing Occultists, and the other by Dan Attrell and David Porreca (in the excellent Magic in History series of Pennsylvania University Press) for students of History.

Also worth the mention are, I think, the beautiful edition of the Elizabethan grimoire, The Book of Oberon, by Daniel Harms, James R. Clark and Joseph R. Peterson; and the thrilling Venetian witch's handbook, Secrets of Solomon, by Joseph R. Peterson. Both of these books are dual language editions.

What do you think of these - and other - newly translated grimoires? Are they important to you personally? How about contemporary Occultism in general?
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.
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Heith
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Re: Newly Translated Grimoires

Postby Heith » Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:16 pm

Thank you for interesting topic and things to add on my reading challenge list. I was not familiar with The Book of Oberon but will certainly take a look.
obnoxion wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:00 am
What do you think of these - and other - newly translated grimoires? Are they important to you personally? How about contemporary Occultism in general?
I think it is a good thing that there are new editions so that new readers can get a hold of these texts. Of course much material is online to read but at least for me it is important to be able to hold the book physically. I also like to have variety in editions as I like to underline my books for later reference checking, so limited edition collector's things are not so suitable to do this.

Of contemporary occultism (as I guess is true in many things) I think almost all is useless to me and stuff that I can not really take seriously, with a few exceptions. If I would have to make a guideline here I'd think that books that lean towards a more academic approach -so that they are actually researched and presented well rather than products of opinions or people's personal wishes/underground lifestyle- are more useful to me. I'm almost never interested of "how to" guidebooks on magic / the occult either. Books on art history can be really useful on my occult studies as they discuss symbols which is quite necessary for my own search.
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Re: Newly Translated Grimoires

Postby obnoxion » Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:45 pm

Heith wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:16 pm
Of contemporary occultism (as I guess is true in many things) I think almost all is useless to me and stuff that I can not really take seriously, with a few exceptions. If I would have to make a guideline here I'd think that books that lean towards a more academic approach -so that they are actually researched and presented well rather than products of opinions or people's personal wishes/underground lifestyle- are more useful to me. I'm almost never interested of "how to" guidebooks on magic / the occult either. Books on art history can be really useful on my occult studies as they discuss symbols which is quite necessary for my own search.
I tend to agree.

On academic credentials, it was nice that the Illustrated Picatrix got a thumbs up in the introduction's footnote number 6 of the 'academic Picatrix'':

"Though there already exists a good English translation of Pingree's Latin Picatrix translated and edited by the respectable duo John Michael Greer and Christopher Warnock, their edition appears to be directed toward practicing 'students of medieval and Renaissance magic' and 'students of the occult rather than an audience of historians".

By contemporary occultism I ment SoA, too, as in a form of occultism in our time. But it is true that the term contemporary occultism as descriptive of a style, attitude or manner of occultism is another matter.

However, books like the Picatrix and Secrets of Solomo deal with substances such as monkey brains and cock's hearts. My own tantric attitude takes such things as inner states to be interpreted, but that does not exclude a contact with the material aspect of the idea. Now, mr Peterson states in the SOS (page xxi) that there is a man called Jake Stratton-Kent who has worked out substitutes for the animal parts. Apparently Stratton-Kent has practiced Goetia since the seventies, and has written some books about it. These books don't looke on the surface like anything I would buy. But I am interested. Anyone read them?
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Heith
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Re: Newly Translated Grimoires

Postby Heith » Sun Feb 10, 2019 12:58 pm

obnoxion wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 4:45 pm
However, books like the Picatrix and Secrets of Solomo deal with substances such as monkey brains and cock's hearts. My own tantric attitude takes such things as inner states to be interpreted, but that does not exclude a contact with the material aspect of the idea.
A good point.

While I do not deny that monkey brains and cock's hearts have undoubtedly magical qualities, I have a problem with a few things like this. Firstly I think that to be an occultist is to understand the burdening and demanding nature of love, which obliges us to make decisions which can withstand the light of day, so to speak. An example of this is that our actions should be of the kind that they do not increase but seek to decrease suffering in the world. I believe that occultists must speed forward not only the change in themselves, but the change in the world around them. What is correct, what should one do- these are important aspects to think about. Sometimes this means doing nothing.

Another pressing point for me is my general intolerance for going from where the fence is the lowest which is how quite many people work in our culture; fast and easy achievements, egocentric search, no responsibility, can't be bothered to learn. Ok, anyone can surely obtain expensive and rare materials and follow instructions in a book and think great this is it. But does that equal to art (which occultism in my mind is, a form of high art), what is the purpose and justification of it? Does that add to one's understanding or serve a higher purpose or simply to one's own small goals? Or is it perhaps better to learn for so long in theory that one understands the nature of the ingredient and why they are used?

A third thing is evolving. This is hard for a traditionalist like myself who runs away screaming when someone mentions the words "change" or "contemporary". Humankind (hopefully) evolves. Our thoughts and ideas (hopefully) become more refined, or they should become. It's not so good to lean on too heavily on the past, without understanding the concept on how that thinking came about to be, and what from it is useful to our growth and what things are inevitably something that should be allowed to be just that, milestones that we have passed and no longer need to lean on to. But sure, we have to know of them, absolutely.
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Re: Newly Translated Grimoires

Postby Smaragd » Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:16 pm

obnoxion wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:00 am
What do you think of these - and other - newly translated grimoires? Are they important to you personally? How about contemporary Occultism in general?
As most styles of written works are under quite a bit of burden for me to translate to my brains, I've not yet properly dived in to the world of grimoires. Old style English makes the barriers even larger, so I would think new translations would come handy. Then again I've formed an attitude of reading spells of lower magic as superior phantasmic poetry in which case academic translations might lack something. If the new translations include commantaries or metaphysical ponderings the grimoires reveal, that, I would find intriguing.

Contemporary occultism is important to me if we understand it as a kind of semi-free interpretation system where for example Crucifixion can be seen as a tantric allegory. Different ideas coming together but still respecting the past (or original ideas) as Heith pointed towards. Accumulation of images rather than transgression.

Edit: Couple more words.
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Re: Newly Translated Grimoires

Postby Nefastos » Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:07 pm

Regardless of my long-lasting love of "high ritual magic" in the grimoires (excluding the more folktale-type of spells contained in many of the most well known ones, like Grimorium Verum or Grand Grimoire), I nowadays study them less. Personally I see the unchanged grimoire magic (which is practically all goetia, even though the entities evoked or invoked are often called angels) problematic first in its two-fold problems concerning form:

a) Using the ingredients which you described, and/or ritual sacrifice of animals in other forms, and b) its prayers given to deities I do not consider worthy of such adoration.

And secondly, concerning not form but spirit (world-view), which is equally if not more important, that the results sought for are usually of a selfish kind. Empowerment through sorcery makes the path of ascension harder instead of helping it, for our attention is put into small self's growth and into its tiny needs & greeds. These are things that theoretically can be avoided, but usually are not.

The result for wrestling with all these three points is the brotherhood's Celestial Hymns practice, which is theurgistic instead of goetic, and mainly asks only magical, spiritual regeneration – to be united with one's inner Master and one's seven powers (angelic forces within) to be invigorated and balanced to receive the true initiations. After that, goetic power is earned and instinctive.

It has been both great and a bit worrisome to see this new rise of grimoire magic in the last years. What makes it worrisome is the easiness of which it gives people to fall into both apparent and secret problems of selfish magic. That is quite opposite to what I am trying to do with this occult revival of the age, but talking about ethics, philosophy, metaphysics & insistent psychological challenges is a lot less sexy than just jump to drawing sigils and praying for power, which is made extremely easy today. Not to even mention about the usual half-belief of the aestheticists of magic. Aspirants should demand themselves more and ask, If magic would be so easy and demand of us so little, wouldn't the whole human culture be extremely different? For every culture has believed in magic and have known about these things.

Middle-aged ramble off, for now. Of the little more "academic grimoires", I'd like to suggest Kieckhefer's "Forbidden Rites: A Necromancer's Manual of the 15th Century" and Paul Foreman's "The Cambridge Book of Magic: A Tudor Necromancer's Manual" . Especially the first of these demands some work to separate the actual content from its academic commentary, unless one is a Latinist (the whole original Latin version is included), but I think that such work can be turned to one's advantage. To work with material that is not cool and sexy helps one to understand what it is actually about.

With sister Senta we are going to delve into the new translation of The Book of Abramelin soon, I have only read Mathers' classic translation. I haven't yet begun the new translation itself, but since I had great expectations from it, once I was shown a passage or two from DuQuette's foreword sank my spirits somewhat.

Tyson, Peterson, Skinner and Rankine seem to be doing good work in the area, breathing new life into these old forms with their devoted translations and commentaries. Peterson's Lesser Key is much better than the version which Crowley stole from Mathers.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Re: Newly Translated Grimoires

Postby Aquila » Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:43 pm

Lately I've become more interested in grimoires and learning about them but not really so much in the ways of magically exploiting them. Instead I have tried to slowly start studying certain kind of demonology in the sense of clearing and purifying myself of certain emotional hubris that leads toward separation. This is done by acknowledging and becoming more conscious and not much ceremonial magic is included. Yet as a by-product I have become more interested in studying those possibly benevolent spirits that are of help in the ritual and prayer work (for example those that are mentioned in our celestial hymns etc.)
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Re: Newly Translated Grimoires

Postby Heith » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:26 pm

(Underline mine)
Nefastos wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:07 pm

The result for wrestling with all these three points is the brotherhood's Celestial Hymns practice, which is theurgistic instead of goetic, and mainly asks only magical, spiritual regeneration – to be united with one's inner Master and one's seven powers (angelic forces within) to be invigorated and balanced to receive the true initiations. After that, goetic power is earned and instinctive.
Apologies for going slightly offtopic, but as this is so similar in what I noted down in my diary yesterday whilst reading Dee's Five books of mystery I will take the opportunity to inquire.

In their angelic conjurations, there is a continued appearance of seven, during which Dee and Kelley are shown seven entities and their seven names or letters. For example, pillars, birds, and seven maidens carrying seven metals which can be taken to relate to planets. Are you referring to a similar thing here, to seven planets or...? Sorry if this was a stupid question.
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Re: Newly Translated Grimoires

Postby obnoxion » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:49 pm

Smaragd wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:16 pm
...formed an attitude of reading spells of lower magic as superior phantasmic poetry...
This is my exact attitude! And, as I nowdays write poetry constantly, old spells and riddles are among my main inspirations. At times I've thought of exploring goetia through poetry.
One day of Brahma has 14 Indras; his life has 54 000 Indras. One day of Vishnu is the lifetime of Brahma. The lifetime of Vishnu is one day of Shiva.
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Re: Newly Translated Grimoires

Postby Nefastos » Mon Feb 11, 2019 10:19 am

Heith wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:26 pm
In their angelic conjurations, there is a continued appearance of seven, during which Dee and Kelley are shown seven entities and their seven names or letters. For example, pillars, birds, and seven maidens carrying seven metals which can be taken to relate to planets. Are you referring to a similar thing here, to seven planets or...? Sorry if this was a stupid question.


The question goes as deep as one wants to go. What exactly is correspondence of these seven primal occult forces? It is usually said that the seven angels (in the Judeo-Christian monotheism; otherwise the better word is gods) emanate from the One, the first manifestation of the Absolute. And these archangels or gods emanate lesser angels or gods and so on, like mirror images, multiplying into eternity, but still remaining the same in essence, in being, in spirit. For me, since I don't believe in time or matter, all of these are and stay the same, the first emanation. All else is just misunderstanding – or dance. But other people, other traditions, may think differently.

By "one's seven powers (angelic forces within)" in this context I meant the so-called shaktis, or our principles – the living human constitution – when considered in their living power aspect. This power aspect, as I see it, is not at all removed from its cognitive side which is both intelligent and spiritual. The "angels" are us, but not so much in a way that we should try to utilise them, but that they try to utilise us, and what creates both our minor & greater timescale problems is our incapability to balance our ideas and thus actions and thus energies according to such greater plan, which really makes us one with our (constant) makers, these angelic or divine powers.

As far as I remember & know from Dee & Kelley's working, all those seven are astral emblems, visions, ways of the receiver's mind to grasp with the associations that grow when thoughts are being transmitted via astral working (like crystal scrying). So, they work like dream images, and demand interpretation. One of the tricky part in such working is always exactly your question: To what do the pictures precisely point at any given time, when in all creation there actually exists nothing but the multiplications of these sevens (or three plus sevens, as some models put it).


Heith wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:26 pm
Apologies for going slightly offtopic


I think we all already became guilty of that here, and the discussion can be branched into different topics if needed. I'm pretty sure Obnoxion doesn't mind, since it's a good thing that the discussion may live on its own.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"

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