Sunday, December 18, 2011

Did I Make Up the Idea of Lesser Seals?

I recently received a message which was not very coherent. The sender was upset about a couple things in my post about the Explanation of the Pentagram and Hexagram of Solomon. The first objection was my identification of the word Bellaton (from the Pentagram) with Beleth, the 13th spirit of the Goetia of Solomon. That's fine with me. I was just putting it out there.

The second objection was actually a statement. I'm not going to repeat it here because the rest of my audience is not playing the role of drunken sailor and also because I deleted the message faster than a cyberman. Basically, I was accused of making something up. In this day and age it is good to be skeptical, but it is still bad to be a blathering idiot. So, I have formed my accuser's statements into the question he should have asked: "Did you make up the idea of Greater and Lesser Seals?"

And now I will set myself to the task of answering that question.

I was first introduced to the idea of Lesser and Greater (or Noble) Seals at the same time I did my study of the Triangle of Solomon, back in the '90s.

I am not going to go into the way the Lesser and Greater Seals worked in 16th and 17th century magick, but I'll show you there was such a distinction.

In the Mathers/Crowley Goetia we see a type of spirit compass showing the directions to face when calling certain spirits.
This diagram actually belongs to the second book of the Lemegaton. These names can be found in many old books on magic.

In the book Elizabethan Magic by Robert Turner, there is something very interesting in the chapter on Simon Forman. Robert Turner reproduces a text, "typical in form and representative of Forman's Age." The text is called Operation by the Regal Spirit Usiel. It opens with "The Great Seal of King Usiel". This seal is almost identical to the seal of Usiel found in Theurgia Goetia.

Next to this Greater Seal we find another Seal titled "The Lesser Seal According to Trithemeus".

Where did that come from?

Well, let's dust off our Steganographia and take a look at page 6.

Do those names look familiar? That's right, they're the same names as on the spirit compass thingy above! And those squigglies next to the names? Those are Lesser Seals!

The text reproduced in Elizabethan Magic gives the names and seals of 14 diurnal dukes under Usiel and 14 nocturnal dukes. It also gives the number of attending spirits for each duke. These dukes and their seals can be found in Theurgia Goetia.
These Dukes and the numbers of attending spirits (and a few seals) can also be found in Steganographia.

The Operation used Seals from the Lemegeton and Trithemeus, referenced Dee's Liber Scientiae Terrestris, and used conjurations like those in The Key of Solomon. The magical synthesis is impressive.

But I've really gone off target. No, I did not make up the idea of Lesser and Greater Seals.