Introduction by S. L. Mac Gregor Mathers.
Owing perhaps to the circumstance that the indispensable "Baedecker" accords only a three or four line notice to the "Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal"; but few English or American visitors to Paris are acquainted with its name, situation, or contents, though nearly all know at least by sight the "Bibliothèque Nationale" and the "Bibliothèque Mazarin".
This "Library of the Arsenal," as it is now called, was founded as a private collection by Antoine René Voyer D'Argenson, Marquis de Paulny, and was first opened to the public on the 9th Floréal, in the fifth year of the French Republic (that is to say, on 28th April, 1797), or just a century ago. This Marquis de Paulny was born in the year 1722, died in 1787, and was successively Minister of War, and Ambassador to Switzerland, to Poland, and to the Venetian Republic. His later years were devoted to the formation of this library, said to be one of the richest private collections known. It was acquired in 1785 by the Comte D'Artois, and today belongs to the State. It is situated on the Right Bank of the Seine, in the Rue de Sully, near the river, and not far from the Place de la Bastille, and is known as the "Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal". In round numbers it now possesses 700,000 printed books, and about 8000 manuscripts, many of them being of considerable value.1
Among the latter is this Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin, as delivered by Abraham the Jew unto his son Lamech; which I now give to the public in printed form for the first time.
Many years ago I heard of the existence of this manuscript from a celebrated occultist, since dead; and more recently my attention was again called to it by my personal friend, the well-known French author, lecturer, and poet, Jules Bois, whose attention has been for some time turned to occult subjects. My first-mentioned informant told me that it was known both to Bulwer Lytton and Eliphas Levi, that the former had based part of his description of the sage Rosicrucian Mejnour on that of Abra-Melin, while the account of the so-called observatory of Sir Philip Derval in the Strange Story was to an extent copied from and suggested by that of the magical oratory and terrace, given in the eleventh chapter of the second book of this present work. Certainly also the manner of instruction applied by Mejnour in Zanoni to the neophyte Glyndon, together with the test of leaving him alone in his abode to go on a short journey and then returning unexpectedly, is closely similar to that employed by Abra-Melin to Abraham, with this difference, that the latter successfully passed through that test, while Glyndon failed. It would also be especially such experiments as those described at length in the third book, which the author of the Strange Story had in view when he makes Sir Philip Derval in the MS. history of his life speak of certain books describing occult experiments, some of which he had tried and to his surprise found succeed.
This rare and unique manuscript of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin, from which the present work is translated, is a French translation from the original Hebrew of Abraham the Jew. It is in the style of script usual at about the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries, and is apparently by the same hand as another MS. of the Magic of Picatrix2 also in the "Bibliothèque de L'Arsenal". I know of no other existing copy or replica of this Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin, not even in the British Museum, whose enormous collection of occult manuscripts I have very thoroughly studied. Neither have I ever heard by traditional report of the existence of any other copy.3 In giving it now to the public, I feel, therefore, that I am conferring a real benefit upon English and especially American students of occultism, by placing within their reach for the first time a magical work of such importance from the occult standpoint.
The manuscript is divided into three books, each with its separate title page, surrounded by an ornamental border of simple design, in red and black ink, and which is evidently not intended to be symbolical in the slightest degree, but is simply the work of a conscientious caligraphist wishing to give an appearance of cleanness and completeness to the title page. The wording of each is the same: "Livre Premier (Second or Troisième, as the case may be) de la Sacrée Magie que Dieu donna à Moyse, Aaron, David, Salomon et à d'autres Saints Patriarches et Prophetes qui enseigne la vraye sapience Divine laissée par Abraham à Lamech son Fils traduite de l'hébreu 1458". I give the translated title at the commencement of each of the three books.
On the fly-leaf of the original MS. is the following note in the handwriting of the end of the eighteenth century: —
"This volume contains three books, of which here is the first. – The Abraham and the Lamech, of whom there is here made question, were Jews of the fifteenth century, and it is well known that the Jews of that period possessing the Cabala of Solomon passed for being the best sorcerers and astrologers." Then follows in another and recent hand: –
"Volume composed of three parts –-
1st part 102 pages. 2nd " 194 " 3rd " 117 " —— 413 "
The style of the French employed in the text of the MS. is somewhat vague and obscure, two qualities unhappily heightened by the almost entire absence of any attempt at punctuation, and the comparative rarity of paragraphic arrangement. Even the full stop at the close of a sentence is usually omitted, neither is the commencement of a fresh one marked by a capital letter. The following example is taken from near the end of the third book; "Cest pourquoy la premiere chose que tu dois faire principalement ates esprits familiers sera de leur commander de ne tedire jamais aucune chose deuxmemes que lorsque tu les interrogeras amoins queles fut pour tavertir des choses qui concerne ton utilite outon prejudice parceque situ ne leur limite pas leparler ils tediront tant etdesi grandes choses quils tofusquiront lentendement et tu ne scaurois aquoy tentenir desorte que dans la confusion des choses ils pourroient te faire prevariquer ettefaire tomber dans des erreurs irreparables ne te fais jamais prier en aucune chose ou tu pourras aider et seccourir tonprochain et nattends pas quil tele demande mais tache descavoir afond," etc. This extract may be said to give a fair idea of the average quality of the French. The style, however, of the first book is much more colloquial than that of the second and third, it being especially addressed by Abraham to Lamech, his son, and the second person singular being employed throughout it. As some English readers may be ignorant of the fact, it is perhaps as well here to remark that in French "tu," thou, is only used between very intimate friends and relations, between husband and wife, lovers, etc.; while "vous," you, is the more usual mode of address to the world in general. Again, in sacred books, in prayers, etc., "vous" is used, where we employ "thou" as having a more solemn sound than "tu". Hence the French verb "tutoyer," = "to be very familiar with, to be on extremely friendly terms with any one, and even to be insolently familiar". This first book contains advice concerning magic, and a description of Abraham's travels and experiences, as well as a mention of the many marvellous works he had been able to accomplish by means of this system of Sacred Magic. The second and third books (which really contain the magic of Abra-Melin, and are practically based on the two MSS. entrusted by him to Abraham, the Jew, but with additional comments by the latter) differ in style from the former, the phraseology is quaint and at times vague, and the second person plural, "vous," is employed for the most part instead of "tu".
The work may then be thus roughly classified:
•First book: = Advice and autobiography; both addressed by the author to his son Lamech. •Second book: = General and complete description of the means of obtaining the magical powers desired. •Third book: = The application of these powers to produce an immense number of magical results.
Though the chapters of the second and third books have special headings in the actual text, those of the first book have none; wherefore in the "Table of Contents" I have supplemented this defect by a careful analysis of their subject matter.
This system of Sacred Magic Abraham acknowledges to have received from the mage Abra-Melin; and claims to have himself personally and actually wrought most of the wonderful effects described in the third book, and many others besides.
Who then was this Abraham the Jew? It is possible, though there is no mention of this in the MS., that he was a descendant of that Abraham the Jew who wrote the celebrated alchemical work on twenty-one pages of bark or papyrus, which came into the hands of Nicholas Flamel, and by whose study the latter is said eventually to have attained the possession of the "stone of the wise". The only remains of the church of Saint Jacques de la Boucherie which exists at the present day, is the tower, which stands near the Place du Châtelet, about ten minutes' walk from the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal; and there is yet a street near this tower which bears the title of "Rue Nicolas Flamel," so that his memory still survives in Paris, together with that of the church close to which he lived, and to which, after the attainment of the Philosopher's Stone, he and his wife Pernelle caused a handsome peristyle to be erected.
From his own account, the author of the present work appears to have been born in A.D. 1362, and to have written this manuscript for his son, Lamech, in 1458, being then in his ninety-sixth year. That is to say, that he was the contemporary both of Nicholas Flamel and Pernelle, and also of the mystical Christian Rosenkreutz, the founder of the celebrated Rosicrucian Order or Fraternity in Europe. Like the latter, he appears to have been very early seized with the desire of obtaining magical knowledge; like him and Flamel, he left his home and travelled in search of the initiated wisdom; like them both, he returned to become a worker of wonders. At this period, it was almost universally believed that the secret knowledge was only really obtainable by those who were willing to quit their home and their country to undergo dangers and hardships in its quest; and this idea even obtains to an extent in the present day. The life of the late Madame Blavatsky is an example in point.
This period in which Abraham the Jew lived was one in which magic was almost universally believed in, and in which its professors were held in honour; Faust (who was probably also a contemporary of our author), Cornelius Agrippa, Sir Michael Scott, and many others I could name, are examples of this, not to mention the celebrated Dr. Dee in a later age. The history of this latter sage, his association with Sir Edward Kelly, and the part he took in the European politics of his time are too well known to need description here.
That Abraham the Jew was not one whit behind any of these magicians in political influence, is evident to any one who peruses this work. He stands a dim and shadowy figure behind the tremendous complication of central European upheaval at that terrible and instructive epoch; as adepts of his type always appear and always have appeared upon the theatre of history in great crises of nations. The age which could boast simultaneously three rival claimants to the direction of two of the greatest levers of the society of that era -- the Papacy and the Germanic Empire -- when the jealousies of rival Bishoprics, the overthrow of dynasties, the Roman Church shaken to her foundations, sounded in Europe the tocsin of that fearful struggle which invariably precedes social reorganisation, that wild whirlwind of national convulsion which engulfs in its vortex the civilisation of a yesterday, but to prepare the reconstitution of a morrow. The enormous historical importance of such men as our author is always underrated, generally doubted; notwithstanding that like the writing on the wall at Belshazzar's feast, their manifestation in the political and historical arena is like the warning of a Mene, Mene Tekel, Upharsin, to a foolish and undiscerning world.
The full and true history of any adept could only be written by himself, and even then, if brought before the eyes of the world at large, how many persons would lend credence to it? and even the short and incomplete statement of the notable events of our author's life contained in the first book, will be to most readers utterly incredible of belief. But what must strike all alike is the tremendous faith of the man himself, as witnessed by his many and dangerous journeyings for so many years through wild and savage regions and places difficult of access even in our own day with all the increased facilities of transit which we enjoy. This faith at length brought him its reward; though only at the moment when even he was becoming discouraged and sick at heart with disappointed hope. Like his great namesake, the forefather of the Hebrew race, he had not in vain left his home, his "Ur of the Chaldees," that he might at length discover that light of initiated wisdom, for which his soul had cried aloud within him for so many years. This culmination of his wanderings was his meeting with Abra-Melin, the Egyptian mage. From him he received that system of magical instruction and practice which forms the body of the second and third books of this work.
In the manuscript original this name is spelt in several different ways, I have noted this in the text wherever it occurs. The variations are: Abra-Melin, Abramelin, Abramelim, and Abraha-Melin. From these I have selected the orthography Abra-Melin to place on the title page, and I have adhered to the same in this introduction.
As far as can be gathered from the text, the chief place of residence of Abraham the Jew after his travels was Würzburg, or, as it was called in the Middle Ages, "Herbipolis". He appears to have married his cousin, and by her to have had two sons, the elder, named Joseph, whom he instructed in the mysteries of the holy Qabalah, and Lamech, the younger, to whom he bequeaths this system of Sacred Magic as a legacy, and to whom the whole of the first book is addressed. He speaks further of three daughters, to each of whom he gave 100,000 golden florins as a dowry. He expressly states that he obtained both his wife, and a treasure of 3,000,000 golden florins, by means of some of the magical operations described in the third book. He further admits that his first inclination to Qabalistical and magical studies was owing to certain instructions in the secrets of the Qabalah, which he received when young from his father, Simon; so that after the death of the latter his most earnest desire was to travel in search of an initiated master.
To the sincere and earnest student of occultism this work cannot fail to be of value, whether as an encouragement to that most rare and necessary quality, unshaken faith; as an aid to his discrimination between true and false systems of magic; or as presenting an assemblage of directions for the production of magical effects, which the author of the book affirms to have tried with success.
Especially valuable are the remarks of Abraham the Jew on the various professors of the "art which none may name" in the course of his wanderings and travels; the account of the many wonders he worked; and, above all, the careful classification of the magical experiments in the third book, together with his observations and advice thereon.
Not least in interest are the many notable persons of that age for or against whom he performed marvels: The Emperor Sigismund of Germany: Count Frederic the Quarreller: the Bishop of his city (probably either John I, who began the foundation of the Würzburg University in 1403 with the authorisation of Pope Boniface IX, or else Echter von Mespelbrunn, who completed the same noble work): the Count of Warwick: Henry VI of England: the rival Popes -- John XXIII, Martin V, Gregory XII, and Benedict XIII: the Council of Constance: the Duke of Bavaria: Duke Leopold of Saxony: the Greek Emperor, Constantine Palæologos: and probably the Archbishop Albert of Magdeburg: and also some of the Hussite Leaders -- a roll of names celebrated in the history of that stirring time.
Considering the era in which our author lived, and the nation to which he belonged, he appears to have been somewhat broad in his religious views; for not only does he insist that this sacred system of magic may be attained by any one, whether Jew, Christian, Mahometan, or pagan, but he also continually warns Lamech against the error of changing the religion in which one has been brought up; and he alleges this circumstance as the reason of the occasional failures of the magician Joseph of Paris (the only other person he mentions besides himself and Abra-Melin who was acquainted with this particular system of magic), namely that having been brought up a Christian, he had renounced that faith and become a Jew. At first sight it does not seem clear from the occult point of view what particular occult disadvantage should be attached to such a line of action. But we must remember, that in his age, the conversion to another religion invariably meant an absolute, solemn and thorough renunciation and denial of any truth in the religion previously professed by the convert. Herein would be the danger, because whatever the errors, corruption, or mistakes in any particular form of religion, all are based on and descended from the acknowledgment of supreme divine powers. Therefore to deny any religion (instead of only abjuring the mistaken or erroneous parts thereof) would be equivalent to denying formally and ceremonially the truths on which it was originally founded; so that whenever a person having once done this should begin to practise the operations of the Sacred Magic, he would find himself compelled to affirm with his whole will-force those very formulas which he had at one time magically and ceremonially (though ignorantly) denied; and whenever he attempted to do this, the occult Law of Reaction would raise as a ceremonial obstacle against the effect which he should wish to produce, the memory of that ceremonial denial which his previous renunciation had firmly sealed in his atmosphere. And the force of this would be in exact proportion to the manner and degree in which he had renounced his former creed. For of all hindrances to magical action, the very greatest and most fatal is unbelief, for it checks and stops the action of the will. Even in the commonest natural operations we see this. No child could learn to walk, no student could assimilate the formulas of any science, were the impracticability and impossibility of so doing the first thing in his mind. Wherefore it is that all adepts and great teachers of religion and of magic have invariably insisted on the necessity of faith.
But though apparently more broad in view in admitting the excellence of every religion, unfortunately he shows the usual injustice to and jealousy of women which has distinguished men for so many ages, and which as far as I can see arises purely and simply from an innate consciousness that were women once admitted to compete with them on any plane without being handicapped as they have been for so many centuries, the former would speedily prove their superiority, as the Amazons of old did; which latter (as the writings even of their especial enemies, the Greeks, unwillingly admit) when overcome, were conquered by superior numbers, not by superior valour. However, Abraham the Jew grudgingly admits that the Sacred Magic may be attained by a virgin, while at the same time dissuading anyone from teaching it to her! The numerous advanced female occult students of the present day are the best answer to this.
But notwithstanding the forementioned shortcomings, his advice on the manner of using magical power, when acquired, to the honour of God, the welfare and relief of our neighbour, and for the benefit of the whole animate Creation, is worthy of the highest respect; and no one can peruse it without feeling that his highest wish was to act up to his belief.
His counsel, however, of a retired life after attaining magical power by his system (I do not speak of the retirement during the six months' preparation for the same) is not borne out by his own account of his life, wherein we find him so constantly involved in the contests and convulsions of the time. Also, however much the life of a hermit or anchorite may appear to be advocated, we rarely, if ever, find it followed by those adepts whom I may perhaps call the initiated and wonder-working medium between the great concealed adepts and the outer world. An example of the former class we may find in our author, an example of the latter in Abra-Melin.
The particular scheme or system of magic advocated in the present work is to an extent "sui generis," but to an extent only. It is rather the manner of its application which makes it unique. In magic, that is to say, the science of the control of the secret forces of Nature, there have always been two great schools, the one great in good, the other in evil; the former the magic of light, the latter that of darkness; the former usually depending on the knowledge and invocation of the angelic natures, the latter on the method of evocation of the demonic races. Usually the former is termed white magic, as opposed to the latter, or black magic.
The invocation of angelic forces, then, is an idea common in works of magic, as also are the ceremonies of pact with and submission to the evil spirits. The system, however, taught in the present work is based on the following conception: () That the good spirits and angelic powers of light are superior in power to the fallen spirits of Darkness. () That these latter as a punishment have been condemned to the service of the initiates of the magic of Light. (This Idea is to be found also in the Koran or, as it is frequently and perhaps more correctly written, "Qûr-an".) () As a consequence of this doctrine, all ordinary material effects and phenomena are produced by the labour of the evil spirits under the command usually of the good. () That consequently whenever the evil demons can escape from the control of the good, there is no evil that they will not work by way of vengeance. () That therefore sooner than obey man, they will try to make him their servant, by inducing him to conclude pacts and agreements with them. () That to further this project, they will use every means that offers to obsess him. () That in order to become an adept, therefore, and dominate them; the greatest possible firmness of will, parity of soul and intent, and power of self-control is necessary. () That this is only to be attained by self-abnegation on every plane. () That man, therefore, is the middle nature, and natural controller of the middle nature between the angels and the demons, and that therefore to each man is attached naturally both a guardian angel and a malevolent demon, and also certain spirits that may become familiars, so that with him it rests to give the victory unto the which he will. () That, therefore, in order to control and make service of the lower and evil, the knowledge of the higher and good is requisite (i.e., in the language of the Theosophy of the present day, the knowledge of the higher self).
From this it results that the magnum opus propounded in this work is: by purity and self-denial to obtain the knowledge of and conversation with one's guardian angel, so that thereby and thereafter we may obtain the right of using the evil spirits for our servants in all material matters.
This, then, is the system of the Secret Magic of Abra-Melin, the mage, as taught by his disciple Abraham the Jew; and elaborated down to the smallest points.
Except in the professed black magic Grimoires, the necessity of the invocation of the divine and angelic forces to control the demons is invariably insisted upon in the operations of evocation described and taught in Mediaeval magical manuscripts and published works. So that it is not so much, as I have before said, this circumstance, as the mode of its development by the six Moons' preparation, which is unusual; while again, the thorough and complete classification of the demons with their offices, and of the effects to be produced by their services, is not to be found elsewhere.
Apart from the interest attaching to the description of his travels, the careful manner in which Abraham has made note of the various persons he had met professing to be in the possession of magical powers, what they really could do and could not do, and the reasons of the success or failure of their experiments, has a particular value of its own.
The idea of the employment of a child as clairvoyant in the invocation of the guardian angel is not unusual; for example, in the "Mendal," a style of oriental divination familiar to all readers of Wilkie Collins' novel, The Moonstone, ink is poured into the palm of a child's hand, who, after certain mystical words being recited by the operator, beholds visions clairvoyantly therein. The celebrated evocation at which the great Mediaeval sculptor, Benvenuto Cellini, is said to have assisted, also was in part worked by the aid of a child as seer. Cagliostro4 also is said to have availed himself of the services of children in this particular. But for my part I cannot understand the imperative necessity of the employment of a child in the angelic evocation, if the operator be pure in mind, and has developed the clairvoyant faculty which is latent in every human being, and which is based on the utilisation of the thought-vision. This thought-vision is exercised almost unconsciously by everyone in thinking of either a place, person, or thing, which they know well; immediately, coincident with the thought, the image springs before the mental sight; and it is but the conscious and voluntary development of this which is the basis of what is commonly called clairvoyance. Among the Highlanders of Scotland, the faculty, as is well known, is of common manifestation; and by the English it is usually spoken of as "second sight".
Unfortunately, like far too many modern occultists, Abraham the Jew shows a marked intolerance of magical systems differing from his own; even the renowned name of Petrus di Abano5 is not sufficient to save the Heptameron or Magical Elements from condemnation in the concluding part of the third book. Works on magic, written conjurations, pentacles, seals, and symbols, the employment of magical circles, the use of any language but one's mother tongue, appear at first sight to be damned wholesale, though on a more careful examination of the text I think we shall find that it is rather their abuse through ignorance of their meaning which he intends to decry, than their intelligent and properly regulated use.
It will be well here to carefully examine these points from the occult standpoint of an initiate, and for the benefit of real students.
Abraham in several places insists that the basis of this system of Sacred Magic is to be found in the Qabalah. Now, he expressly states that he has instructed his eldest son, Joseph, herein as being his right by primogeniture, even as he himself had received somewhat of Qabalistic instruction from his father, Simon. But this system of magic he bequeaths to his younger son, Lamech, expressly as a species of recompense to him for not being taught the Qabalah, his status as a younger son being apparently a serious traditional disqualification. This being so, the reason is evident why he warns Lamech against the use of certain seals, pentacles, incomprehensible words, etc.; because most of these being based on the secrets of the Qabalah, their use by a person ignorant hereof might be excessively dangerous through the not only possible but probable perversion of the secret formulas therein contained. Any advanced student of occultism who is conversant with Mediaeval works on magic, whether MS. or printed, knows the enormous and incredible number of errors in the sigils, pentacles, and Hebrew or Chaldee names, which have arisen from ignorant transcription and reproduction; this being carried to such an extent that in some cases the use of the distorted formulas given would actually have the effect of producing the very opposite result to that expected from them. (I have commented at length on this subject in my notes to the Key of Solomon, published by me a few years ago.) Wherefore Abraham the Jew it appears to me, in his anxiety to save his son from dangerous errors in magical working, has preferred to endeavour to fill him with contempt for any other systems and methods of operation than the one here laid down. For also besides the unintentional perversions of magical symbols I have above mentioned, there was further the circumstance not only possible but probable of the many black magic grimoires falling into his hands, as they evidently had into Abraham's, the symbols in which are in many cases intentional perversions of Divine Names and seals, so as to attract the evil spirits and repel the good.
For the third book of this work is crowded with Qabalistic squares of letters, which are simply so many pentacles, and in which the names employed are the very factors which make them of value. Among them we find a form of the celebrated Sator, Arepo, Tenet, Opera, Rotas, which is one of the pentacles in the Key of Solomon. Abraham's formula is slightly different: —
L E M E L O P E R A M O L A S
and is to be used for obtaining the love of a maiden.
The pentacle in my Key of Solomon is classed under Saturn, while the above is applied to the nature of Venus. I give the Hebrew form (see Appendix A, Table of Hebrew and Chaldee Letters) of equivalents:--
R V T A Sh
Or in Latin letters:
In the Key of Solomon it is (as being a pentacle) inscribed within a double circle, wherein is written the following versicle from Psalm lxxii, v. 8 "His dominion shall be also from the one sea unto the other, and from the flood unto the world's end". In the Hebrew, this versicle consists of exactly twenty-five letters, the number of the letters of the square. It will be at once noticed that both this form and that given by Abraham the Jew are perfect examples of double acrostics, that is, that they read in every direction, whether horizontal or perpendicular, whether backwards or forwards. But the form given as a pentacle in the Key of Solomon the King is there said to be of value in adversity, and for repressing the pride of the spirits.
This example therefore shows clearly that it is not so much the use of symbolic pentacles that Abraham is opposed to, as their ignorant perversions and inappropriate use.
It is also to be observed, that while many of the symbolic squares of letters of the third book present the nature of the double acrostic, there are also many which do not, and in the case of a great number the letters do not fill up the square entirely, but are arranged somewhat in the form of a gnomon, etc. Others again leave the centre part of the square blank.
In Appendix C to the Introduction I will, for the sake of comparison, give some examples of angelic invocation taken from other sources.
Abraham the Jew repeatedly admits, as I have before urged, that this particular system of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin has its basis in the Qabalah. It is well to examine what is here meant. The Qabalah itself is divided into many parts; the great bulk of it is of a mystic doctrinal nature, giving the inner occult meaning of the Jewish sacred writings. Also it employs the numerical values of the Hebrew letters, to draw analogies between words, the total numerical value of whose letters is the same; this branch alone is a most complicated study, and it will be foreign to our purpose to go into it here; the more so as my work, the Kabbalah Unveiled, treats at length of all these points. The so-called practical Qabalah is the application of the mystic teachings to the production of magical effects. For the classification of divine and angelic names; of hosts and orders of angels, spirits, and demons; of particular names of archangels, angels, intelligences, and demons, is to be found carried out even to minute detail in the Qabalah, so that the knowledge hereof can give a critical appreciation of the correspondences, sympathies, and antipathies obtaining in the invisible world. Therefore what Abraham means is, that this system of Sacred Magic is thoroughly reliable, because correct in all its attributions, and that this being so, there is no chance of the operator using names and formulas on wrong occasions and in error.
But also it is notable that Abraham the Jew (probably again with the intent of confusing Lamech as little as possible) speaks only of two great classes of spirits: the angels and the devils; the former to control, the latter to be controlled; and leaves entirely out of consideration, or rather does not describe that vast race of beings, the elemental spirits, who in themselves comprise an infinitude of various divisions of classification, some of these being good, some evil, and a great proportion neither the one nor the other. Evidently, also, many of the results proposed to be attained in the third book, would imply the use of the elemental spirits rather than that of the demons. No advanced adept, such as Abraham evidently was, could possibly be ignorant of their existence, power, and value; and we are therefore forced to conclude either that he was unwilling to reveal this knowledge to Lamech; or, which is infinitely more probable, that he feared to confuse him by the large amount of additional instruction which would be necessary to make him thoroughly understand their classification, nature, and offices. This latter line of action would be the less imperative, as the correctness of the symbols of the third book would minimise chances of error; and what Abraham is undertaking to teach Lamech, is how to arrive at practical magical results; rather than the secret wisdom of the Qabalah.
It is entirely beyond the scope of this introduction for me to give here any lengthy dissertation on the natures, good or evil, of spiritual beings. I will, therefore, only state briefly and concisely the principal differences between angels, elementals, and devils.
We may then conclude that angels, though themselves divided into numerous orders and classes, possess generally the following characteristics: That they are entirely good in nature and operation, the conscient administrators of the divine will upon the plane of the material universe; that they are responsible, not irresponsible agents, and therefore capable of fall; and that they are independent of the currents of the infinite secret forces of Nature, and can therefore act beyond them, though their classification and qualities will cause them to be more sympathetic with certain among these forces than with the rest, and this in varying degree. Also that they are superior in power to men, spirits, elementals, and devils.
The elementals on the other hand, though consisting of an infinitude of classes, are the forces of the elements of nature, the administrators of the currents thereof; and can therefore never act beyond and independently of their own particular currents. In a sense, therefore, they are irresponsible for the action of a current as a whole, though responsible for the part thereof in which they immediately act. Therefore also they are at the same time subject to the general current of the force, wherein they live, move, and have their being; though superior to the immediate and particular part of it which they direct. Such races, superior to man in intuition, and magical powers; inferior to him in other ways; superior to him in their power in a particular current of an element; inferior to him in only partaking of the nature of that one element; are of necessity to be found constantly recurring in all the mythologies of antiquity. The dwarfs and elves of the Scandinavians; the nymphs, hamadryads, and nature spirits of the Greeks; the fairies good and bad of the legends dear to our childish days; the host of mermaids, satyrs, fauns, sylphs, and fays; the forces intended to be attracted and propitiated by the fetishes of the Negro race; are for the most part no other thing than the ill-understood manifestations of this great class, the elementals. Among these, some, as I have before observed, are good; such are the salamanders, undines, sylphs, and gnomes, of the Rosicrucian philosophy; many are frightfully malignant, delighting in every kind of evil, and might easily be mistaken for devils by the uninitiated, save that their power is less; a great proportion are neither good nor evil, irrationally working either; just as a monkey or a parrot might act; in fact such closely resemble animals in their nature, and especially combinations of animals, in which forms distorted and mingled, would lie their symbolic manifestation. Another very large class, would not act irrationally in this manner; but with intent, only always following the predominant force either good or evil in their then entourage; a spirit of this kind, for example, attracted into an assembly of good persons would endeavour to excite their ideas towards good; attracted among evil-minded persons would incite them mentally to crime. Among how many criminals is not their only excuse that "they thought they kept hearing something telling them to commit the crime"! Yet these suggestions would not always arise from elementals alone, but frequently from the depraved astral remnants of deceased evil persons.
Devils, on the other hand, are far more powerful than elementals, but their action for evil is parallel to that of the good angels for good; and their malignancy is far more terrible than that of the evil elementals, for not being, like them, subjected to the limits of a certain current, their sphere of operation extends over a far greater area; while the evil they commit is never irrational or mechanical, but worked with full consciousness and intent.
I do not agree entirely with the manner of behaviour, advised by Abraham towards the spirits; on the contrary, the true initiates have always maintained that the very greatest courtesy should be manifested by the exorciser, and that it is only when they are obstinate and recalcitrant that severer measures should be resorted to; and that even with the devils we should not reproach them for their condition; seeing that a contrary line of action is certain to lead the magician into error. But, perhaps, Abraham has rather intended to warn Lamech against the danger of yielding to them in an exorcism even in the slightest degree.
The word "demon" is evidently employed in this work almost as a synonym of devil; but, as most educated people are aware, it is derived from the Greek "daimon," which anciently simply meant any spirit, good or bad.
A work filled with suggestive magical references is the well-known Arabian Nights, and it is interesting to notice the number of directions in the third book of this work for producing similar effects to those there celebrated.
For example, the ninth chapter of the third book gives the symbols to be employed for changing human beings into animals, one of the commonest incidents in the Arabian Nights, as in the story of the "first old man and the ind," that of the "three calendars and the five ladies of Bagdad," that of "Beder and Giauhare," etc., etc.; as distinct from the voluntary transformation of the magician into another form, as exemplified in the "story of the second calendar," the symbols for which are given in the twenty-first chapter of our third book.
Again these chapters will recall to many of my readers the extraordinary magical effects which Faust is said to have produced; who, by the way, as I have before remarked, was in all probability contemporary with Abraham the Jew.
But the mode of their production as given in this work is not the black magic of pact and devil worship, against which our author so constantly inveighs, but instead a system of Qabalistic magic, similar to that of the Key of Solomon the King and the Clavicles of Rabbi Solomon, though differing in the circumstance of the prior invocation of the guardian angel once for all, while in the works I have just mentioned the angels are invoked in each evocation by means of the magical circle. Such works as these, then, and their like, it could not be the intention of Abraham to decry, seeing that like his system they are founded on the secret knowledge of the Qabalah; as this in its turn was derived from that mighty scheme of ancient wisdom, the initiated magic of Egypt. For to any deep student at the same time of the Qabalah and of modern Egyptology, the root and origin of the former is evidently to be sought in that country of mysteries, the home of the gods whose symbols and classification formed so conspicuous a part of the sacred rites; and from which even to the present day, so many recipes of magic have descended. For we must make a very careful distinction between the really ancient Egyptian magic, and the Arabian ideas and traditions prevailing in Egypt in recent times. I think it is the learned Lenormant who points out in his work on Chaldean magic, that the great difference between this and the Egyptian was that the magician of the former school indeed invoked the spirits, but that the latter allied himself with and took upon himself the characters and names of the gods to command the spirits by, in his exorcism; which latter mode of working would not only imply on his part a critical knowledge of the nature and power of the gods; but also the affirmation of his reliance upon them, and his appeal to them for aid to control the forces evoked; in other words, the most profound system of white magic which it is possible to conceive.
The next point worthy of notice is what Abraham urges regarding the preferability of employing one's mother tongue both in prayer and evocation; his chief reason being the absolute necessity of comprehending utterly and thoroughly with the whole soul and heart, that which the lips are formulating. While fully admitting the necessity of this, I yet wish to state some reasons in favour of the employment of a language other than one's own. Chief, and first, that it aids the mind to conceive the higher aspect of the operation; when a different language and one looked upon as sacred is employed, and the phrases in which do not therefore suggest matters of ordinary life. Next, that Hebrew, Chaldee, Egyptian, Greek, Latin, etc., if properly pronounced are more sonorous in vibration than most modern languages, and from that circumstance can suggest greater solemnity. Also that the farther a magical operation is removed from the commonplace, the better. But I perfectly agree with Abraham, that it is before all things imperative that the operator should thoroughly comprehend the import of his prayer or conjuration. Furthermore the words in these ancient languages imply "formulas of correspondences" with more ease than those of the modern ones.
Pentacles and symbols are valuable as an equilibrated and fitting basis for the reception of magical force; but unless the operator can really attract that force to them, they are nothing but so many dead, and to him worthless, diagrams. But used by the initiate who fully comprehends their meaning, they become to him a powerful protection and aid, seconding and focussing the workings of his will.
At the risk of repeating what I have elsewhere said, I must caution the occult student against forming a mistaken judgment from what Abraham the Jew says regarding the use of magic circles and of licensing the spirits to depart. It is true that in the convocation of the spirits as laid down by him, it is not necessary to form a magic circle for defence and protection; but why? -- Because the whole group of the bedchamber, oratory, and terrace are consecrated by the preparatory ceremonies of the previous six Moons; so that the whole place is protected, and the magician is, as it were, residing constantly within a magic circle. Therefore also the licensing to depart may be to a great extent dispensed with because the spirits cannot break into the consecrated limit of the periphery of the walls of the house. But let the worker of ordinary evocations be assured that were this not so, and the convocation was performed in an unconsecrated place, without any magical circle having been traced for defence, the invocation to visible appearance of such fearful potencies as Amaymon, Egyn, and Beelzebub, would probably result in the death of the exorcist on the spot; such death presenting the symptoms of one arising from epilepsy, apoplexy, or strangulation, varying with the conditions obtaining at the time. Also the circle having been once formed, let the evocator guard carefully against either passing, or stooping, or leaning beyond, its limits during the progress of the exorcism, before the license to depart has been given. Because that, even apart from other causes, the whole object and effect of the circle working, is to create abnormal atmospheric conditions, by exciting a different status of force within the circle to that which exists without it; so that even without any malignant occult action of the spirits, the sudden and unprepared change of atmosphere will seriously affect the exorciser in the intensely strained state of nervous tension he will then be in. Also the license to depart should not be omitted, because the evil forces will be only too glad to revenge themselves on the operator for having disturbed them, should he incautiously quit the circle without having previously sent them away, and if necessary even forced them to go by contrary conjurations.
I do not share Abraham's opinion as to the necessity of withholding the operation of this Sacred Magic from a prince or potentate. Every great system of occultism has its own occult guards, who will know how to avenge mistaken tampering therewith.
At the risk of repeating myself I will once more earnestly caution the student against the dangerous automatic nature of certain of the magical squares of the third book; for, if left carelessly about, they are very liable to obsess sensitive persons, children, or even animals.
Abraham's remarks concerning the errors of astrology in the common sense, and of the attribution of the planetary hours are worthy of careful note. Yet I have found the ordinary attribution of the planetary hours effective to an extent.
In all cases where there is anything difficult or obscure in the text, I have added copious explanatory notes; so many indeed as to form a species of commentary in parts. Especially have those on the names of the spirits cost me incredible labour, from the difficulty of identifying their root-forms. The same may be said of those on the symbols of the third book.
Wherever I have employed parentheses in the actual text, they shew certain words or phrases supplied to make the meaning clearer.
In conclusion I will only say that I have written this explanatory introduction purely and solely as a help to genuine occult students; and that for the opinion of the ordinary literary critic who neither understands nor believes in occultism, I care nothing.
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