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Ch.20 Grimoires of Magick (WMB 20.c)

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @


Chapter 20, part c

Dr John Dee (1527-1608), the astronomer and mathematician to Queen Elizabeth I, produced a range of magickal work. From the perspective of his legacy, the most important work is that from the 1580s which generated the Enochian system (with its watchtowers) such as Tabula bonorum angelorum invocationes (Sloane MS 3191). Dee used wax disks with the Sigillum Dei Aemeth on, under the feet of his skrying table and also under the crystal ball (as a pentacle). This may be where the idea of the wax pentacle mentioned by Gardner in his writings originates from. Dee’s many other works, of those which survived, have not had any tangible influence on the Wiccan tradition.

The Lemegeton, comprises five parts known respectively as the Goetia, Theurgia-Goetia, Ars Pauline, Ars Almadel, and Ars Notoria. The earliest known manuscript of the Lemegeton is in English and dates to around 1640 (Sloane MS 3825), and the latest to 1712 (Harley MS 6483). Nevertheless the sources for the Lemegeton date back earlier, to the early fourteenth century with de Abano, and to the fifteenth century through sources such as the French Livre des Esperitz[1] and the Steganographia of Trithemius. A version of the first part (Goetia) was produced by Aleister Crowley in 1904 from a transcription stolen from MacGregor Mathers. The influence of the Goetia is seen in Gardner’s work High Magic’s Aid, but beyond the occasional use of the triangle of the art is not really felt very much in the Wiccan tradition per se.

The Key of Solomon or Clavicula Salomonis has been a major influence on the Wiccan tradition. Of the several dozen we have examined, they cover the period from 1572 to 1825 and are in a variety of languages. The predominant language is French, followed at some distance by English, Italian and Latin. Of all the grimoires, the Key of Solomon has experienced the strongest hostility from Christianity, particularly the Catholic Church. This is probably because the Key of Solomon was involved in the attempted magickal murder of Pope Urban VIII in 1633. Cardinal d’Ascoli, the nephew of Cardinal Giacomo Centini, liked the idea of being the Pope’s nephew and enlisted the aid of a hermit and a man referred to as Frater Cherubino. This trio, with the aid of a Frater Domenico supplied by Giacomo set about trying to kill the Pope through magic. They failed and met unpleasant ends at the hands of the Inquisition.[2]

Following these events the Roman Catholic Church in Italy was quick to focus attention on grimoires generally and the Key of Solomon specifically, as can be seen by the treatment of the Viennese witch Laura Malapiero discussed in chapter 1 Emergence. The Church also resented continued interest in the Key of Solomon from within their own ranks, as shown by a 695 page manuscript dealing entirely with accusations against monks for using the Key of Solomon.[3]

Of the material within the Key of Solomon, there are significant components borrowed into Wicca. These include the words for the salt and water consecrations, the consecration of the magick sword/athame, the magick circle, and the markings on the hilt of the athame. Considering its occurrence all across Europe, the influence of the Key of Solomon into witchcraft practices is no surprise.

[1] Trinity MS 0.8.29., circa 15th century [2] Renaissance in Italy. Symonds, 2001 [3] MSS Busta 102

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.



My name is Sorita d'Este

and this is my website and blog!  Thanks for visiting - I hope you are finding what you are looking for!


Many years ago I dedicated myself to the pursuit of both esoteric knowledge, and an understanding of polytheism, the Gods and Nature.  I have been a full-time writer, author and publisher, specialising subjects linked to the occult, witchcraft, Paganism, mythology, ancient religions and magic - and all kinds of things in between since 2003. 


I live on a hill in Glastonbury, overlooking the marshes of Somerset,  a place of myth and legend, and a crossroad for many different religions. Here I am frequently found digging and growing, serving my fluffy rescue cat and navigating the unknown with my teenage son.  

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