The Grimoire of Armadel

grimoire-armadel.jpgOf all the old grimoires of ceremonial magic I have read, the Grimoire of Armadel strikes me as the most Christian influenced. By way of example, consider this preparatory instruction:

Before invoking the Spirits it is necessary to make a (Magical) Circle, and place thyself in the midst thereof after having sprinkled the same with Holy Water saying: “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Examine me thoroughly by Thy most Holy Angels, in the Name of Jesus, born of Mary, the ever Immaculate Virgin; and may Thy Truth endure for ever — Amen.”

This deference to the Trinity and the angels of God runs throughout the text and it is clear that the writer, who presents himself as Armadel, sees holiness as an essential requirement for a safe and successful magical operation.

The writer also appears to have been more interested in self transformation than power over others. In his introduction William Keith observes that, “The Grimoire of Armadel claims to conjure spirits that (judging from their descriptions) affect the disposition of the magician, rather than grant specific powers or perform definitive duties, as do spirits in other grimoires.” It appears the operations were aimed at gaining mystical knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Consider for instance this description:

In this Sigil be taught the Mysteries of the Trinity Whom Abraham our Father knew, believed in and confessed. There is also taught herein how It is pleasing and harmonious in Itself, and by what ways It may be propitiated, as hath been communicable through Its Adorable Attributes. There is also (herein) taught how the whole may be communicable unto and in Thee, and as regardeth Thee in a profound and wonderful manner, through the Combinations of the Letters which be in the Great Central Triangle, between the Small Orb and Triangle. There is also (herein) taught how the Science of God may be communicable through His Attributes unto all Created Beings; and especially those most profound Mysteries which He operateth with regard both to Angels and Men, the which be shown through the combinations of the Letters which be without the Small Orb.

For all this Christian influence thou, the Grimoire of Armadel clearly draws on a wide variety of non-Christian traditions. It references spirits associated with: the ten Sephiroth of the Jewish Kabbalah, the first nine Hebrew letters, the Olympic spirits of the Arbatel, and four of the planetary archangels found in Agrippa’s Occult Philosophy. It references both archangels, infernal princes, and possibly even goetic demons, the former presumably being used to control the latter.

The Grimoire of Armadel is most obscure text. Unlike many other grimoires there is only one known manuscript copy in the world which is kept in the Bibliotheque l’Arsenal in Paris. The manuscript, written in Latin and French, was probably produced in the early 18th century. Scrutiny of the manuscript suggests it was originally composed in German, since there appears to be some words and terms that are poorly translated from that language into French. It was translated into English by Samuel MacGregor Mathers, the occult scholar and founder of the Golden Dawn.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s