The Book Of Ceremonial Magic
§ 4. The Grimoire of Honorius
Despite the iniquities of the Pacta Conventa Dæmonum, the Grand Grimoire has failed, however, to invoke upon itself such severe condemnation as the Grimoire of Honorius the Great, otherwise Honorius the Third. It is scarcely too much to say that almost every accusation preferred against this remarkable work is false generally and specifically, the chief distinction between them being that some are the misrepresentations of ignorance and others the false interpretations of prejudgment. The French occultist, Papus, alone seems to take the middle view, though he speaks with some vagueness when
he says that the sorcery of this Grimoire is more dangerous for weak experimentalists than for the enemies of the sorcerer. Éliphas Lévi observes that the work is not without importance for the students of occult science. 1 At first sight it seems to be nothing but a tissue of repulsive absurdities, but for those who are initiated in the signs and secrets of the Kabalah, it is said that it becomes a veritable monument of human perversity. There was seldom a statement for which there was less foundation; there was never a magical work which less connected with Kabalism; the relation in so far as it exists, and it is confined to a few words which occur in the Conjurations, is common to all Ceremonial Magic, and this is the one Grimoire which is most permeated with Christian elements.
Those, however, who are well acquainted with the principles of interpretation which obtain in the writings of Lévi, will not take a charge seriously which depends upon the significance of Kabalistic words or signs, for it is notorious that with the French occultist they meant many things according to his humour, and that he did not know his subject.
But Éliphas Lévi was not contented with the general impeachment; in a later work 2 he elaborated a more particular charge. In common with the Key of Solomon, and all the Grimoires, the work of Honorius prescribes the sacrifice of a virgin kid, with the object of ensuring the possession of a virgin parchment by the operator. Now, Lévi affirms that
when the "abominable author" mentions a kid, he means really a human child. In this interpretation he has not even the excuse of the humorous analogy which has been instituted in vulgar English, for his acquaintance, had he any, with our language was exceedingly slight. There is not a particle of foundation
for the charge; the sacrifice in the case of the Grimoire of Honorius means, and can mean, no more than in the case of the Key of Solomon. There was a defined purpose in connection with the slaughter of the victim, which was the same in both instances.
So far concerning the misinterpretations of writers who pretend to some first-hand acquaintance with the work under notice. Others who have mentioned it within recent years have been content to follow the French authority without examination. Thus it is that I find Mr. J. H. Slater, in a paper read before the Bibliographical Society, and printed in its Transactions, 1 describing this Grimoire as an advocate of murder and all kinds of crimes. Furthermore, he confuses it throughout with the Grand Grimoire.
Taking the work at first hand, the initial question concerning it is the attribution of the authorship. From what we know of magical literature, to say nothing of pontifical dignity, it is antecedently unlikely that it is the work of a Roman bishop, more especially of such a bishop as Honorius. Éliphas Lévi, who rightly sought to vindicate the Church of his
childhood, assailed, in the person of one of its sovereign pontiffs, by an unintelligent accusation, but vindicated it badly as usual, took a glance at the history of the time and discovered that during the pontificate of Honorius there was an anti-pope set up by Henry IV. of Germany, and that he was a man of evil life. He immediately conjectured that this
personage was the likely author of the objectionable Grimoire. Again there is not a particle of evidence for such a surmise, and it is un bien vilain procédé, as M. Papus might say, to increase, without good reason, the responsibility resting upon the memory of the unhappy prelate in question.
If we come to the facts, they are these. The first edition of the Grimoire is said to have appeared in 1629, and it is not likely that it was forged much earlier than the end of the sixteenth century, being, roughly, nine hundred years after the death of its supposed author. The canonical Pope, it must be confessed, was a voluminous writer; his sermons and his vast correspondence have appeared in two large volumes at Paris, 1 under auspices which were unlikely to admit even a contemptuous reference to the forged constitution. There is none, accordingly, which is to be regretted from the standpoint of bibliography. But the editor has further excluded with the same silence another work much more reasonably attributed, and to which no odium can attach. It is one also which is important to our inquiry, and it is entitled Honorii Papæ, adversus tenebrarum Principem et ejus Angelos Conjurationes ex originale Romæ servato, Rome, 1529. The authenticity of this work is evidently questioned by its exclusion, and it is impossible to speak certainly concerning it, as, on account of its extreme rarity, few public libraries, none apparently in England, possess an example. But it is evidently the formularies of exorcism, a rite of the Church and possessing a considerable body of literature, to which even a Pope of past ages might not inconceivably have contributed. However this may be, the attribution in the one case will account for it in the other. The book of Black Magic may be merely a perversion of the orthodox conjurations, and if not that, is a reprisal; it is Sorcery revenging herself on a Pope who cast out devils by representing him as the
prince of those who dealt with them.
Having said something to justify the Grimoire from groundless condemnation, it is necessary now to add, on the
authority of its own evidence, that it is a malicious and somewhat clever imposture, which was undeniably calculated to deceive ignorant persons of its period who may have been magically inclined, more especially ignorant priests, since it pretends to convey the express sanction of the Apostolical Seat for the operations of Infernal Magic and Necromancy. The entire claim is set forth most curiously at the beginning of the pseudoconstitution, and must be cited at considerable length to convey its full force.
The Holy Apostolic Chair, unto which the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven were given by those words that Christ Jesus addressed to St. Peter: I give unto thee the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and unto thee alone the Power of commanding the Prince of Darkness and his angels, who, as slaves of their Master, do owe him honour, glory and obedience, by those other words of Christ Jesus: Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve--hence by the Power of these Keys the Head of the Church has been made the Lord of Hell. But seeing that until this present the Sovereign Pontiffs have alone possessed the Power of using invocations and commanding Spirits, His
Holiness Honorius the Third, being moved by his Pastoral care, has benignly desired to communicate the methods and faculty of invoking and controlling Spirits to his venerable Brethren in Jesus Christ, adding the Conjurations which must be used in such case, the whole being contained in the Bull which here follows.
Servant of the Servants of God, unto all and each of our venerable Brethren of the Holy Roman Church, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots; unto all and each of our sons
in Jesus Christ, Priests, Deacons, Subdeacons, Acolytes, Exorcists, Cantors, Pastors, Clerks both Secular and Regular, Health and Apostolic Benediction. In those days when the Son of God, Saviour of the World, generated in the fulness of time, and born, according to the flesh, of the Race of David, did live on this earth, Whose Most Holy Name is Jesus, before which the heavens., earth and hell do bend the knee; we have seen with what Power He commanded demons, which Power was also transmitted to St. Peter by that utterance: Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the Gates of Hell shall not Prevail against it. These words were addressed to St. Peter as the Head and Foundation of the Church. We then, who, by the mercy of God, and despite the Poverty of our merit, have succeeded to the Sovereign Apostolate, and, as lawful successor of St. Peter, have the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven committed to our hands, desiring to communicate the Power of invoking and commanding Spirits, which hath been reserved unto us alone, and
our Possessors did alone enjoy; wishing, I repeat, by Divine inspiration, to share it with our venerable Brethren and dear sons in Jesus Christ, and fearing lest in the exorcism of the Possessed, 1 they might otherwise be appalled at the frightful figures of those rebellious angels who in sin were cast into the abyss, lest also they should be insufficiently learned in those things which must be Performed and observed, and that those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ may not be tormented by any witchcraft or possessed by the demon, we have included in this Bull the manner of their invocation, which same must be observed inviolably. And because it is meet that the ministers of the Altar should have authority over the rebellious Spirits, we hereby depute unto them all
powers which we possess, in virtue of the Holy Apostolic Chair, and we require them, by our Apostolic authority, to observe what follows inviolably, lest by some negligence unworthy of their character they should draw down on themselves the wrath of the Most High.
The Grimorium Verum has once been reprinted in the French language. 1 Of the Italian version there have been two modern editions, both poorly produced. 2 The book of True Black Magic is known only by the edition of 1750. The Grand Grimoire reappeared at Nismes in 1823 and is, moreover, in all respects identical with the work entitled the Red
Dragon, of which there are several examples. 3 The Grimoire of Honorius is exceedingly rare in the original, but is better known by the reprints of 1660 and 1670, though these also are scarce. There is, finally, an edition dated 1760, and this even commands a high price among collectors. It remains to state that the Abbé d'Artigny was presented about
the middle of the last century with an MS. copy of this Grimoire, which was much more complete that the printed editions. He gives no satisfactory account of it, nor can it be traced at this day. Possibly it represented the transition of the Sworn Book of Honorius into the Spurious Papal Constitution, which certainly reproduces the motive and moves in
the atmosphere of its prototype.
104:1 Histoire de la Magie, p. 307.
104:2 La Clef des Grands Mystères. See also "Thaumaturgical Experiences of Éliphas Lévi." in The Mysteries of Magic, by E. A. Waite, second edition.
105:1 Some Books on Magic." Transactions of the Bibliographical Society, Vol. iii. Part 2.
106:1 Horoy's Bibliothecha Patristica Honorii III. Opera Omnia. Paris, 1879, 8vo.
108:1 This is an evasion of the Grimoire, which is no wise concerned with the offices of exorcism, but with the conjuration of evil spirits for the usual purposes of magicians.
109:1 Les Véritables Clavicules de Salomon. Trésor des Sciences Occultes, suives d'un Grand Nombre des Secrets, et notamment de la Magie du Papillon Vert. N.D.
109:2 La Vera Clavicola del Re Salomone, Tesoro delle Scienze Occulte con molti Altri Segreti e principalmonte La Cabala della Farfalla Verde tradotte dalla Lingua Straniera alla Lingua Italiana da Bestetti. Milano, 1868. Also, with slight variations, Firenze, Amato Muzzi editore, 1880.
109:3 For example, Le Dragon Rouge, ou l'Art de Commander les Esprits célestes, aériens et infernaux. A Milan, chez Gaspard Buffanelli. And, Le Véritable Dragon Rouge, plus la Poule Noire, edition augmentée des secrets de la Reine Cleopâtre, secrets pour se rendre invisible, Secrets d'Artephiust &c. This is a reprint of the rare so-called edition of 1521 and is possibly still extant.