The Book of Ceremonial Magic
§ 3. The Enchiridion of Pope Leo
We come now to the Enchiridion of Pope Leo III., which, as already indicated, is not a book of Ceremonial Magic; it is necessary, however, to include it in this notice, and to analyse it at some length, so as to establish its true character. Misconceptions and mistakes upon a subject so obscure as Magical Rituals are, speaking generally, excusable enough, but in this case they are found where they are not excusable, namely, among those persons who have undertaken to give account of the work. Catholic bibliographers of the occult sciences, or at least the anonymous author of the occult encyclopædia in Migne's great series, are very angry at the pontifical attribution, and stigmatise the Enchiridion as an infamous storehouse of Black Magic. Éliphas Lévi, who may possibly have read it--because occasionally he seems to have glanced at his authors--magnifies its occult importance by stating that it has never been printed with its true figures. In the absence of all evidence on this point, it is impossible to entertain it seriously. The Enchiridion is assuredly not a book of Black Magic, nor does it lend itself to the introduction of other figures than those which appear in it, and these are few and simple.
Finally, Alfred Maury, in La Magie et l'Astrologie dans l'Antiquité et au Moyen Age, describes the Enchiridion as a work on Sorcery, bearing traces of Neo-Platonic, and even older, influences. He also evidently had not read it, and is a personage
of sufficient consequence to deserve severe censure for following such an evil principle of criticism.
The legend of the Enchiridion is as follows. When Charlemagne was leaving Rome after his coronation by Leo III., that pontiff presented him with a memorial of the visit in the shape of a collection of prayers, to which wonderful virtues were attributed. Whosoever bore the little work upon his person with the respect due to Holy Scripture, who also
recited it daily to the honour of God, would never be overcome by his enemies, would pass unscathed through all perils, and the Divine protection would abide with him to. the end of his days. These things took place in the year 800. In the year 1523 the Enchiridion is supposed to have been printed at Rome for the first time. Thus broadly outlined, there is nothing in this legend to offend possibility or to raise very serious objection to the authorship. The reputed connection with occult science would indeed seem the chief presumption against it, because there never was a literature so founded in forgery as that of Magic, except the sister science of physical Alchemy. When we come, however, to examine the work at first hand, the case against it assumes a different aspect, and it is condemned out of its own mouth. While it is not a Ritual of Magic, it is also certainly not a simple collection of devotions designed to fortify the person making use of them against dangers of body and soul by the operation of Divine Grace; it is rather a collection of charms cast in the form of prayers, and is quite opposed in its spirit to the devotional spirit of the Church; furthermore, it is concerned with worldly advantages far more than with those of a spiritual kind. The work opens with a characteristic stultification in respect of its own claim, by pointing out that of all the sovereign princes of past ages there was none more fortunate than Charlemagne, and the source
of his great prosperity is acknowledged by him in a letter of thanks addressed to Pope Leo, the original of which, it is affirmed, may still be seen in the Library of the Vatican, written with the monarch's own hand. He states therein that since his reception of a little volume entitled Enchiridion, filled with special prayers and mysterious figures, sent by
His Holiness as a precious gift, he has never ceased to be fortunate, and that of all things in the universe which are capable of harming man, not one has shewn any malignity against him, in gratitude for which he proposes to devote himself and all that is his to the service of his benefactor. The letter is in Latin; the monarch styles himself Carolus
Magnus, which appears highly unlikely, and he terms the pontiff Summus Antistitum Antistes, but this is not in itself improbable, as the Papal claim to Episcopal supremacy was fully developed at the beginning of the ninth century.
It is needless to say that there is no such document preserved in the Vatican Library; furthermore, there are no letters of Charlemagne extant, and, despite the encouragement he gave to men of learning and the Academy mentioned by Alcuin, it is not at all certain that he could either read or write. Lastly, while it is quite true that his empire included
Germany, as it did also Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and part of Italy, after his coronation it is much more probable that he would have styled himself Emperor of the Romans. There is, in fact, no colourable pretence of genuineness about the so-called autograph letter, or to be precise it betrays itself--as I have indeed suggested already.
This fact being established, we may proceed to the consideration of the alleged date of publication--Rome, 1523. This edition is mentioned by Pierre Christian in his Histoire de la Magie, and he defends the authenticity of the Enchiridion
on the ground, among others, that it passed unchallenged in the Eternal City during such a pontificate as that of Clement VII. A second edition is said to have been printed at Rome in 1606; between 1584 and 1633 it appeared four times at Lyons and once at Mayence. In 1660 it was published for the last time at Rome. Unfortunately for the purposes of this criticism, the examples of 1633 and 1660 have been alone available. The first claims to be nuperrime mendis omnibus purgatum, but it has been evidently in the hands of a Grimoire maker, and it appears to have been edited and extended in the Grimoire interest. 1 This is certain, but it is impossible to say how much beyond the Seven
Mysterious Orisons connected with the name of Pope Leo are to be found in the original, or whether the original was antedated. Outside these Orisons the modern accent of the work is unmistakable, and it is difficult to understand how any instructed person, much less a bibliophile like M. Christian, could have been deceived by it. It is certain, however,
that when he approached the secret sciences, their substitutes and their memorials in literature, he depended more on his imagination than on his knowledge or research.
The work itself, as already said, is simply a collection of religious charms, effectual against all the perils to which every sort and condition of men may be made subject on land, on water, from open and secret enemies, from the bites of wild and rabid beasts, from poisons, from fire, from tempests. While it thus ensures against evil, it gives happiness in domestic matters and in the enterprises which contribute to prosperity and to the pleasures of a contented life. The proviso is that
"the instructions must be followed as accurately as human weakness will allow."
Fortunately they are more simple than the Grimoires. When a copy of the book has been secured, it must be placed in a small bag of new leather, so that it may be kept clean. A vow must be made to carry it as far as practicable on one's person, and to read with attentive devotion at least one page daily. If a specific danger be apprehended, a page suitable to its nature should be selected. Reading must be done upon the knees, with the face turned to the east: "so did Charlemagne invariably." Furthermore, works of piety must be performed in honour of the celestial genii whose benign influence it is desired to attract; alms also must be given to the poor, "as this is of all things most pleasing unto such spirits, for thereby we become their coadjutors and friends, the economy of the universe being committed to them by the Creator."
Here we have the magical doctrine concerning planetary intelligences which connects the Enchiridion with the Arbatel, and the hint of "secondary deities" which connects it with Trithemius. 1]
The In Principio, or first chapter of the Gospel according to St. John, is declared to be the most potent of all the devotions in the book, and it is to be recited the most frequently.
The mysterious figures are said to have been extracted from the rarest manuscripts which antiquity has committed to us, and their virtue is not only highly efficacious, but so easily Put in motion, that it is enough for this purpose to carry the work reverently on one's person. "Experience will remove any doubt which may be felt in this respect, while the
scruples which may be occasioned by the idea that there is Magic or
superstition herein will be banished by a slight exercise of reason.
As to this latter point, it is said that a little reflection upon the infinite number of secret sympathies and antipathies found in different beings here below will explain how it is that such figures may be in sympathy with the Celestial Intelligences which govern this vast universe.
It will scarcely be necessary to observe that the doctrine of sympathies and antipathies is the very essence of Natural Magic, and connects it with the recondite branches. The mysterious figures referred to were originally nine in number, and in most cases recur several times. The most conspicuous is the Labarum of Constantine and the Tau symbol,
which Lévi connects with the Tarot.
The apparently unmeaning enumeration of various Divine Names is a special characteristic of Ceremonial Magic, and certainly makes the Enchiridion interlink with a cycle of literature from which it is otherwise thinly distinct. There is, indeed, little specific difference between the prayers which incorporate them and the Invocations
which swarm in the Rituals. It may be added that the use of such Divine Names is supported by a mendacious reference to the Angelical Theology of Dionysius.
The prefatory matter ends at this point. The prose of the Gospel of St. John follows, with versicles and a prayer. Next come the Seven Penitential Psalms, with the Litany of the Saints, after which are the Mysterious Prayers of Pope Leo, followed by a multitude of others not less mysterious, and prevailing against human fragility, and so forth. There are prayers for voyages, prayers addressed to the Cross, and then under the Tau symbol, commencing with the curious exclamation, Per signum Domini Tau, libera me, there follows a long
conjuration, as express as anything in Magic, designed to prevent the petitioner from injury by any steel weapons whatsoever. Forming part of this ceremony is the pseudoepistle addressed by Jesus Christ to King Abgar, explaining why our Saviour could not come Himself to that monarch, and promising to send His disciple Thaddeus when He had fulfilled the work given Him by His Father. It goes on to say that Christ has written it with His own hand, and that wheresoever the recipient shall be, in house or field, by sea or stream, sive in prætio Paganorum seu Christianorum--such is the stultification thereof- -his enemy shall never prevail over him. 1 The king received the epistle with many tears and prayers, all which being duly described, the conjuration of the baculi, gladii, lanceæ, enses, cultelli, sagittæ, claves, funes, et omnia alia genera armorum, is continued.
As it is difficult to say where the original Enchiridion actually begins, so it is uncertain where it ends. A variety of miscellaneous prayers are, however, attributed to well-known saints quite outside the Carlovingian period, and to Innocent IV. and John XX., without prejudice to a further orison of the great Pope Leo himself. Then come the "curious secrets"--to conciliate and discover one's proper genius, to become invulnerable, to prevent a gun from going off, to behold a future husband or wife, all effected by means of formal prayers--a kind of royal road to the chief ends of Magic, without apparently exceeding the devotional discipline of the Church.
To complete the analysis of this curious collection, its most important practical part is here added, namely:--
42:1 This appears more evidently in the last Roman edition, which pretends to be based on all those which preceded it, including impressions published at Parma, Ancona and Frankfort which are now generally unknown. The editor has, moreover, altered and rearranged, omitted and added at choice. He has supplied also a Key to the whole work, which is a short process for the government of evil spirits.
43:1 Joannis Tritemii, Abbatis Spanheymensis, De Septem Secundiis, id est, Intelligentiis, sive Spiritibus, Orbes post Deum Moventibus, &c. Coloniæ, 1567. The treatise is well known, or at least much talked of, and this is the original edition, belonging to the date claimed for it.
45:1 For this legend, see Fabricius, Cod. Apoc. N.T., I., p. 317.