Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Missing Daemon & the Secret of the 73rd Quinarian

I have been puzzling over a minor conundrum lately about the Goetic daemon named Pruslas, and how he had just dropped out of the list of Goetic daemons that appeared in the Goetia, only to reappear later in the Grand Grimoire. This mere fact would appear to give ammunition to those who insist that the Goetia, which is the first book of the Lemegeton or Lesser Key of Solomon, is a very late grimoire whose origin is no earlier than the mid 17th century. However, I think that I have discovered a solution to this puzzle and found a way to re-insert the lost daemon into the Goetia under a special category. Let me seek to explore these ideas with you in greater detail. You may recall that I wrote a previous article that looked at the history of the list of daemons as it was used in Goetic evocation. You can find it here.

With the exception of the first book, called the Goetia, the other four books that make up the Lemegeton have been mentioned in other works and can be dated to at least the early 16th century, and a couple are quite earlier than that. It seems obvious that the Lemegeton was a late compilation and collection of much earlier works. The one book whose date is highly questioned is the first book. We can examine the very scanty evidence available and conjecture that the list of daemonic spirits was built up from the 14th century to the 16th century, where the list appears to accumulate new names over time. At the advent of the 16th century, there was a prized book, a copy of which was in the hands of the monk-magician Trithemius, that listed the demons and their associated magickal seals. That book was called “Liber Malorum Spirituum,” and is now lost. No one knows the exact count or order of the daemons that were listed in that work, but speculation on one side of the argument states that there were 72 spirits in that book. Another argument would state that there were only 69 spirits. Still another argument would speculate that there were 79 spirits in all.

Later on in the 16th century, a physician scholar named Johann Weyer, who was a student of Agrippa, wrote and published a book entitled “Praestigiis Daemonum” (1563), which argued against the persecution of witches as put forth in the notorious Maleus Malleficarum. In the appendix of this work was another document entitled “Pseudomonarchia Daemonum,” which contained a list and description of 69 daemons. Weyer said that he had purposely changed the work from its original source so as to make it unusable, should anyone be foolish enough to attempt to evoke a daemon. What exactly was meant by this statement is a mystery, since he did include some simple rituals to do just that - the only thing apparently missing were the seals. This document was later translated into English at some unknown date, and it was ironically used in Reginald Scot’s book refuting witchcraft, magick and occultism entitled “Discovery of Witchcraft,” which was published in 1584. Somewhere in that translation process, one of the spirits was dropped from the list, which then had only 68 daemons, and that spirit was, of course, Pruslas. Like the Weyer document, the Scot version omitted the seals, although Scot implied that the total number of evil spirits was 79.

“..and with authoritie they call up by name, and have at their commandment seventie and nine principall and princelie divels, who have under them, as their ministers, a great multitude of legions of pettie divels; as for example.” R. Scot, book XV, chapter 1.

Joseph Peterson has probably pretty much summed up one side of the opinion by stating that the Goetia appears to have used a poor Latin translation of Weyer’s document to build up the list of daemons for that work, even though the Weyer document omitted the seals and had three less spirits than the Goetia. As if to prove that point even further, both the Scot version and the Goetia are missing the daemon spirit named Pruslas. Perhaps I might find this a closed case if it were not for the fact that four additional daemon spirits have been added to the list to bring it up to 72 spirits total. A cursory glance at the seals for the 72 daemons appears to show a continuity between the original 68 seals and the additional four - I don’t see an obvious deviation in form. That might mean that the seals were developed at the same time, however, the original source document had the seals in it as well, so one could argue that there were more spirits listed in the original.

One inexplicable item is that the order of the daemons is completely different between the Weyer document and the Scott version, as if the list of spirits were a deck of cards and were thrown into the air and randomly reassembled, or that’s how Peterson has stated it. The spirits in the Goetia have the same sequential order and rank as compared to the Scot version, so it would seem at least that they were compiled from the same source document, although the verbiage used to describe the daemons is quite different between the two. Keep in mind that Weyer made certain that he violated the contents of the original document to make his version unusable, so it could even be argued that the order of the spirits was changed from the original. He may have omitted some spirits as well, but it’s obvious that the omission of Pruslas shows that the source for the Goetia was at least different than the source that Weyer used for his document. Another difference is that the Goetia and Scot’s version include the daemonic hierarchy, but Weyer’s document excludes that information.

David Rankine, who with Stephen Skinner, edited and published the book “Goetia of Dr. Rudd, ” defends the age of all five books of the Lemegeton, saying that all five were known to Trithemius, and in fact, he was the author of two of them. Here is a quote from his website that talks about the age of the Lesser Key. You can find it here.

“There are five parts to the Lemegeton, which are the Goetia, the Theurgia-Goetia, the Art Pauline, the Art Almadel and the Notary Art. The German scholar magician Abbot Johannes Trithemius (1462-1516) acknowledged de Abano’s influence when he referred in his Antipalus Maleficorum (1508) to the Lemegeton as the ‘key made by Abano’.  As the word key is a translation of Clavicule, and the name given to the Lemegeton was the Clavicula Salomonis, this clearly indicates a supposition of authorship.  We know that all five parts of that book existed in 1500 (though not as a collection together) and all five were known to Trithemius, and indeed he probably wrote two of them.”

However, David Rankine does admit that the Goetia was actually a much later version of the Liber Malorum Spirituum, and that the contents of the earlier source document were redacted into the Goetia. So David’s arguments, although interesting, admit to a problem with the age of the Goetia and the date of the compilation of the Lemegeton. While the books Ars Almadel and Ars Notaria were known as early as the 14th century, the second and third books were written by Trithemius himself. While it would appear that de Abano probably didn’t write the grimoire Heptameron, and that the Heptameron was used exclusively for angelic type invocations, it seems strange to attribute the Lesser Key to him. I believe that Trithemius may have been referring to the Heptameron as being a useful “key” to performing advanced forms of evocation. One could see that as being the more likely meaning of that sentence.

David’s lionization of Dr. Rudd, an obscure English occult practitioner, as one of the great magicians of his time is probably overly generous. Dr. Rudd, like many others in his time, experimented with many forms of theurgy and evocation, and not everything he did turned out either brilliantly or even successfully. Still, he was a pioneer, and there wasn’t much to guide such an avocation in those days. If Dr. Rudd has left us with work that is either dubious or ridiculous, we must consider the distance of time as one of the factors.

Since we are missing the source documents, beginning with the Liber Malorum Spirituum and including the English translation that was used by Scot for his work, as well as the version used for the Goetia, we will probably never know for certain which version is identical to the original source, which was irreparably changed or distorted, and which came first. I believe that we can be certain that the Liber Malorum Spirituum was the original source document, and that it existed at the turn of the 16th century. The Goetia had appropriated and adapted some of the ceremonies and rituals used for Goetic evocation from the Heptameron, which was the very first fully developed Christian ceremonial magickal grimoire. Thus there seems to be little that would keep one from supposing that the Goetia was probably written sometime in the late 16th century or 17th century, whether earlier or later is anyone’s conjecture. Still, the final piece of evidence seems to really settle the matter.

There is one damning piece of evidence that pulls the dating of the Goetia well into the 17th century, stated as a matter of fact by Jake Stratton-Kent, in his book “True Grimoire,” and that is the only versions of the Goetia are written in English. There are no Latin versions of the Goetia extant in any library or referenced in any book list, and the source documents would therefore likely have also been in English, making the source document that Scot used for his version of the list of daemons and the English translation of the Heptameron as the actual source documents for the Goetia, all of which were available, but only by the mid 17th century.

What this means is that the Goetia is very likely not the actual work that was an original part of the supposed Lemegeton, instead the Liber Malourm Spirituum probably functioned as the first book for that kind of magickal work. It would have likely included the infernal hierarchy of seven devils, and the 72 Goetic spirits, including the four that were missing from Weyer’s work, and the one that was dropped from the Scott and Goetia versions. The primitive ceremonies that Weyer included in his work would likely have also been copied from that original work. The daemon Astaroth (29) would have been part of the infernal hierarchy and not a member of the 72 daemons. This is the structure proposed by Jake, and I feel that it has some merit. Still, if we don’t pull Astaroth from the list, and we don’t use the infernal hierarchy, then there are 73 daimons that have to be fully accounted.

What has been bequeathed to us from the Goetia, whether one believes it to be an original work or a poor derivation, is a list of 72 daemons, with one daemon accidentally omitted. The strength of this system is not found in the verification of the source documents or by arguing over precedence, but how well it works and functions as a magickal system today. As I have stated previously, the number 72 is quite auspicious and is already part of the spiritual hierarchy of the angelic spirits (such as the angels of the Ha-Shemhemphorash).

Since the number 72 is also analogous to the zodiacal system of the 36 decan faces and the 72 quinarians, we can see that having a list of 72 daemons will allow us to fit them right into that spiritual hierarchy and become defined through an astrological matrix. So the number of spirits does make a difference in the underlying structure that can be used to determine their correspondences. This all seems quite elegant and useful, except that one daemon that was omitted. Counting that daemon makes for 73 total spirits, which throws a monkey wrench into the whole works. Or, is there some other way of explaining this anomaly without having to nullify the use of the quinarians or sweeping the omitted daemon under the rug and pretending that it doesn’t exist? 

As you might recall, I have written a previous article about how the ancient Egyptians used the zodiacal decans as both a time keeping device and a calendar. The decans were used to visually plot the stellar (and magickal) hours of the night. They also used the nightly sighting to determine the date of the year. The ancient Egyptians, like many ancient people, had calculated a calendar consisting of 360 days plus five intercalated days. The 360 days would be represented by a ten day period for each of the 36 decans. The five extra days would represent an extra quinarian. I will quote the exact paragraph here for consideration, you can find it here.

“Another interesting thing about the decans is that every 10 days a new decan would appear at the horizon at the first observable hour of the night. It’s from this array of 36 decans, each lasting 10 days, that the Egyptians determined their solar based calendar, where the last decan coincided with the annual inundation of the Nile river. They had a yearly calendar of 36 decans with five days added to the end to make 365 days in all. The five additional days would represent a 73rd quinarian in the Egyptian astrological system, but that is another interesting item to discuss in another article.”

If we follow the Egyptian example above, then from the standpoint of the calendar, there is one extra quinarian, symbolizing a kind of mysterious synthesis of the ideal and the actual. That would mean that the additional quinarian would also have associated with it, one angel of the Ha-Shem and one daemon. This extra quinarian would not be represented by a ten degree segment of the zodiac, instead it would characterize a kind of interstice or lintel between worlds. For the Egyptians, this intercalated period represented the advent of the rising of the Star Sothis (Sirius), which presaged the inundation of the river Nile. We have a 73rd daemon, but what about an associated angelic name, representing a 73rd angel of the Ha-Shem?

Since the angel names of the Ha-Shemhemphorash are derived from the three contiguous 72 Hebrew letters verses found in the biblical book of Exodus, chapter 14, verses 19 through 21, the three letters for the 73rd angelic name would be extracted from the first, last and first letters of the three additional verses, from verse 22 through 24. The pattern for extracting the angelic names for the 72 angelic names is to place the letters left to right, then right to left, and left to right, to get the root, then to add either AL or YH to the ending. Because there are 40 angels with the AL ending, and 32 with the YH ending, I felt that the 73rd angel would use the ending YH, thus making 33 with that ending.

Using the above logical structures, I was able to deduce that the 73rd angel of the Ha-Shem would have the name VMVYH, and would be pronounced Vamuyah. This angel would be paired with Pruslas and would symbolize the 73rd quinarian, whose quality is that of a gateway of mystery, material abundance and the currents of ascending and descending Spirit.

One question that you might be asking yourself at this point is why do I always seem to be balancing daemons with angels? Why not go all one way or the other, instead of seemingly hedging everything between opposites? My reason for doing this, and I might add, consistently, is not that I am afraid of the Goetic daemons, but that I seek to maintain a balance between forces and intelligences and their affects. As a witch, I work with both the powers of light and darkness equally, so I would seek to engage both angelic and daemonic intelligences. Also, I don’t subscribe to the myth that daemons are somehow always malefic and evil, and angels always good, since that would be too simplistic, and it would mean that I have bought into the values of an exoteric Christian morality. The World of Spirits is neither simplistic nor easily determined by morality. Because as a witch I do subscribe to the concept of the unnamed One, then both the angels and the daemons serve that One as functioning intermediaries, just as the light and the darkness fuse together to formulate the Unity of Being. Therefore, the angels and daemons would function as “daimones” in the Greek definition of the word, but to realize and fully understand any of them, one must invoke or evoke them.  

Now that all of the issues have been covered and every spirit has its niche and a place through which it is defined using the 73 decans, I believe that the matter is elegantly resolved - for the moment.

Frater Barrabbas


  1. Interesting article Frater B.

    It seems likely enough that the 'compositor' of the Goetia thought there should be 72 spirits. As his material omitted Pruslas he made up the number without him. Vassago seems likely enough to come from another grimoire. On the other hand the descriptions of Dantalion and others appear different 'aesthetically' from those borrowed from Weyer/Scot.

    Another thing the Goetia lacks is a detailed attribution of the 72 spirits to the Four Kings. Omitted altogether are Lucifer & Belzebuth, while Astaroth has - in my opinion, guided by several other grimoires - been demoted from Chief status as part of Weyer's tampering.

    Worth mentioning is a 'rationalised hierarchy' of 79 spirits (Three Chiefs, Four Kings, 72 subordinates) included in my . This is an informed contribution to ongoing research, rather than a finalised dogmatic tabulation (shame no grimoire author ever said something along those lines!) There is thus some room for a tweak or two, although - as you say - it has merit as it stands. ;)

    Thanks for sending the link, great stuff! ;)

  2. You have solid points. Wonderful analysis. Perhaps one of the most interesting articles on Goetia I've read in some time. You've given me a great deal of food for thought.

  3. Spectacular observations. I truly give credit to those who do their research and follow through such as what this article demonstrates. As a Demonolator for only a few years, this will be a great resource to study for future purposes. Kudos