Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cyprianus, Key to Hell

Society of Esoteric Endeavour   40 pages, including two fold-outs.  Illuminated.  Octavo.

Bound in genuine silk velvet (scarlet), limited to 60 copies.

This book is a near-exact facsimile of the original 18th century grimoire.  Like the original, there is no introduction or commentary.  The only difference is the book's contents, which are printed twice, once in the original mix of languages (Latin, Hebrew, Malachim, and 'Passing the River' -- the latter two as found in Agrippa's Three Books) and with a second version in English.  The English section is reproduced beautifully by a skilled calligrapher (no credit given).  Everything has been reproduced down to the finest detail, including irregular page lengths.  The publisher goes so far as to reproduce mysterious tiny slits found cut into the pages of the original.  Presumably these were used to hold the corner of a parchment talisman of some sort as part of the working.  Curious marks and notations are also reproduced.  The book boasts silken endpapers that are a lovely shimmering green.  Pages are bound with golden thread.  Numerous pages are illuminated with genuine gold leaf, including one page that is almost entirely solid gold.  Limitation included on a tipped-in paper at the rear.  The grimoire's full-color artwork, illuminated pages, enigmatic writing, and sumptuous binding make this volume an absolute marvel.

This book was made for the practitioner; by this I mean it was designed to be used.  Those looking for detailed analysis of its contents would be better served with the Skinner/Rankine edition, The Grimoire of Saint Cyprian: Clavis Inferni: The Key to Hell with White and Black Magic Proven by Metatron (Golden Hoard Press).  See Amazon widget to the right to order. 

This is undoubtedly a book of the Solomonic or Goetic tradition.  The book instructs the magician to use his power and authority (as a Christian) to command the infernal kings of the four directions to do his bidding.  While on the surface this may appear to be a diabolical text, as the magician is instructed to summon infernal spirits; however, it's really a volume designed for channeling Divine powers for the purpose threatening said spirits to follow one's commands.  For example, the summoner is instructed to state, "I N.N. fetter and bind you (name of spirit) at this hour and in this place through God the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and through the nine orders of Angels."  By this the magician acting as a proxy for the Divine.  Nowhere are there instructions for pacts or other malefic procedures typical of so-called 'black' magic.  One very curious note must be made: some of the Latin words are intentionally written backwards.  The publisher theorizes this was done intentionally so that the scribe wouldn't accidentally trigger the conjuration.  One wouldn't want to 'set it off' prematurely, I suppose.  In this way the linchpin stays safely fixed to the grenade.

Cyprianus, Key to Hell is about the closest some of us will ever get to knowing what it's like to hold a traditionally bound magical grimoire.  The present volume is more than a simple 18th century reenactment; it's proof-positive that the grimoire tradition is still very much alive.

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