Sep 19, 2012
The second argument regarding the practicability of grimoires is that these books were meant to fail. The authors wanted the knowledge to remain secret, for fear of the Church and for fear of misuse in beginners.
I’ve stated before that the Church did not treat mercifully the necromancers that used divine names and Christian elements in their conjuration as opposed to those who did not. The last category is practically non-existent. You did not get a slap on the wrist by putting prayers in your grimoire. You put prayers in your grimoire because you were a devoted religious man, seeking power through the use of holiness, depending on what religion you practiced. Jewish grimoires contain psalms and prayers, Islamic grimoires contain extensive surahs from the Quran, and there was certainly no Jewish or Islamic Inquisition to please using these.
The knowledge was supposed to be secret, true. But grimoires were secret themselves. The Sworn Book of Honorius was passed down in a straight lineage of masters and disciples, and if the master could not do that, he would have had it buried with him. The grimoires we have today were not published in great numbers in paperback format and advertised to make a profit or to increase one’s notoriety. Secrecy of the content was not the issue, as very few people could read, and if they could make out the letters somewhat, they were not learned men to speak Latin, and even if they were part of the scholarly world or religious world and knew how to read and speak Latin, they must have had enough money to buy or have a book bound and enough connections to get access to magical manuscripts. One simply could not go online and look for spells, one could not go to the local library and look for books on magic. You had to find a practitioner and either pay him well for his book of secrets, like Wierius might have done to obtain the Liber Officiorum from Cockars and T.R., or apprentice under a necromancer in order for him to teach you.
Their authors did not fear that people who could misuse them were to read them simply because they could control their readership. He wouldn’t even fear rival magicians. The readers were not a mass of unknown people with whom the magician had no contact, but a select few that the necromancer would make readers of his own will.
The problem of the Church was not so strict. Many of the readers, writers copyists WERE clergymen or monks, part of the Church! There is no problem if the book might have been found by a priest or a monk, as many of them professed an avid interest in them, even collected them. The problem was if the wrong clergyman would find them. Only few were so stuck up and righteous that he would grab your book and accuse you of witchcraft. If this was done, the book itself would have been burnt as well, not kept and read. Few inquisitors did read the books and extracted information used in their letters of accusation, but then they would burn them as part of the judicial process. The ones who did keep books kept them secret and they were sympathetic to the use of magic and many monks sold their books for fear of being discovered by their superiors to other monks. This is how Johannes Trithemius could assemble such a marvelous library on magic in the short span of time he was an abbot in Sponheim.
The grimoires were not false advertisers, but personal notebooks. True. There were active schools of magic in Naples, Athens, Salamanca, Fez, Toledo, Rome and perhaps many more. Not every piece of information in the course was recorded by the student, indeed. The author in question argues that the grimoires contain a bare minimum and much was left out. Moreover, much was added to confuse people, created blinds and specifically wrote them so that they would not work.
The said author does not know how a grimoire was used, I’m afraid. The fault does not lye necessarily with him, this part is a commonly overlooked detail and a forgotten element that nobody seems to remember. The grimoire was not just a simple notebook, but a consecrated object meant to make the rituals work. The most important part of the necromancer’s arsenal was the Book of Consecrations. This contained all the names of the spirits with their characters, plus a set of nine conjurations to be performed every day in a ritual of nine days meant to empower it. His was no mere hollywoodian Book of Shadows, but a powerful object meant to make it’s content effective.
And a summary and incomplete content would not do. The experiment was to be written in full, with conjurations and actions, in order to be effective. A blind or lie would not necessarily render the information invalid, but quite the opposite, funny enough, it would make the blind true!
The grimoires are not ineffective in themselves, as the modern practitioners do not use the said book, the very manuscript that the magician wrote and kept and consecrated on his knees for nine mornings with exhortations and suffumigations, but published versions of them. They do not construct a Book of Consecrations, out of lack of information or rejection of the proper way of doing it, but work from printed, on-line or oral material. Some exercises are not bound to that process and are certainly effective, but most are. For example, the Book of Consecrations states that all experiments are useless until the necromancer puts it in his book and recites the orisons to make it effective. More even, any corrupted experiment was made viable again if it be put in the Book. This is mainly why magicians were not so avid to look for the meaning and etymology of the words of power used, they did not care if they said or write Saday, Caday, Sadat, Saddai, Seday or Saclay instead of the Hebrew name Shaday. Because every experiment, no matter how corrupted, would have become effective once copied in their private consecrated book.
From this point of view, the use of a grimoire as it is is not ineffective, but the lack of a personal grimoire consecrated according to the tradition that the desired experiment refers to.