The Book of Ceremonial Magic
§ 3. The Grand Grimoire
The Grand Grimoire is the most fantastic of the cycle and is introduced with great pomp by its pretended editor, Antonio Venitiana del Rabina, a personage whose name indicates the Italian origin of the work. By reason of its rarity and the great request in which it is, we are informed that it must be regarded as the veritable Magnum Opus--a view which may appear inconsequential, but for which the authority of Rabbinical writers is cited. It is to these authors that we owe the priceless treasure which innumerable charlatans have endeavoured to counterfeit, but have never succeeded in discovering. The copy made use of by Antonio in preparing his edition was transcribed from the genuine writings of the mighty King Solomon, which were obtained by pure chance. "Of
a truth, what other man, save this invincible genius, would have had the hardihood to reveal the withering words which God makes use of to strike terror into the rebellious angels and compel them into obedience? Having soared into the celestial altitudes that he might master the secrets and learn the omnipotent words which constitute all the power of
a terrible and venerable Deity, the essence of those innermost arcana, made use of by an infinite Divinity, was extracted by this grand king, who passed all the days of his life in the most laborious researches, and in pursuit of the most obscure and hopeless secrets. He succeeded ultimately in all his undertakings, penetrating into the most remote haunts of spirits, whom he bound, one and all, and forced them to obey him by the power of his Talisman or Clavicle. Therein he has discovered unto us the stellar influences, the constellation of the planets and the method for the evocation of all hierarchies of spirits by the recitation of certain sublime Appellations, as they are hereafter set down for you in this book, as well as the true composition and effects of the dreadful Blasting Rod, which causes the spirits to tremble; which God also used to arm his Angel when Adam and Eve were driven out of the Earthly Paradise; wherewith, finally, he smote the rebellious Angels, precipitating their ambitions into the most appalling gulfs by the power of this very Rod-of this Rod which collects the clouds, disperses tempests, averts the lightning, or precipitates each and all upon any portion of the earth at the pleasure of its director."
Such is the preamble of the Grand Grimoire. The work is divided into two parts, the first containing the evocation of Lucifuge 1 Rofocale by means of the Blasting Rod, the second
being that which Antonio inscrutably regards as the Sanctum Regnum, namely, the Rite of making Pacts; but one of the most notable characteristics of all the Grimoires is not their diabolical malice, but their unconscious ingenuousness, while the devout, almost laudable, character of all the operations seems to have been held quite sincerely.
The Grand Grimoire is, however, regarded as one of the most atrocious of its class; it has a process in Necromancy which is possible, say some occult writers--in the geniality of a lucid interval--only to a dangerous maniac or an irreclaimable criminal. It must be admitted that the Rite is highly unreasonable, but in dealing with such literature it seems unsafe to advance the objection, for it applies much too widely. As to its criminality, this centres in the creation of a disturbance at midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. There is further an account of a poison entitled "The Composition of Death, or Philosophical Stone," which is supposed to indicate an advanced degree of diabolism. Éliphas Lévi says that it pretends to confer the Powder of Projection, the great Mystery of the Sages, but it gives really the Powder of Consecution--as to the significance of which a vague image can alone be invoked. It may, in any case, be added that it cannot well be either, seeing that the composition is a liquid. For the rest, it is simply a stupid recipe, and as no unlawful application is suggested, it is not diabolical at all, unless toxicology, as such, is Satanic, simply because it does not deal in anodynes.
There is, of course, no question that the Grand Grimoire is a book of Black Magic, and it is contrary to the nature of things that a book of Black Magic should be otherwise than diabolical. The most objectionable works are not those which openly announce that they are evil, but those which teach evil under the pretence of excellence. The noticeable
regards the Grand Grimoire, the other works of its class and the White Rituals, is that the diabolism of the confessedly diabolical is often so exceedingly thin, while the angelical element in processes assumed to be angelical borders so often and so perilously on the Satanic side. The first part of the Grand Grimoire, like the Grimorium Verum, is simply a
process for the evocation of evil spirits to obtain the enforced surrender of hidden treasure. In the second part the magician is certainly expected to give himself, body and soul, to the demon who serves him meanwhile, and there can be no hesitation in admitting that this creates a sharp distinction, not only between the Grand Grimoire and all the Composite Rituals, but also between the Grand Grimoire and the other Liturgies of Black Magic. It is only a palliation to say that the compact is worded as a subterfuge, and in reality gives nothing to the demon, who here, as so frequently in folklore, is bamboozled, receiving the shadow in place of the substance. 1
101:1 This alteration of the fallen Light-Bearer into Fly-the-Light does not seem to occur in magical literature preceding the Grand Grimoire. It was afterwards adopted by Lévi, by whom it has been made popular among occultists, who are, for the most part, quite unaware of its source, as they usually are in such cases.
103:1 Compare the droll history of the Devil and his Dam, and that concerning the course of Black Magic delivered by the Prince of Darkness at the University of Salamanca.