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Specializing in Rare and Antiquarian Books on the Occult and more.

Magic and the Occult





MATHERS, S.L. MacGregor (Translated by).

The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin, the Mage - As Delivered by Abraham the Jew Unto His Son Lamech. A Grimoire of the Fifteenth Century. Translated by A.L. MacGregor Mathers from an Old and rare French Manuscript in the Bibliotheque de ‘l Arsenal in Paris

Chicago: The de Laurence Company, [1948]. Stated Third Printing, 1948 but this was most likely published later (De Laurence never updated copyright or date info in subsequent printings and these were printed well into the 1980s). Hardcover. Small quarto. Whereas most of the more recent copies of this volume were bound in a red or brown leatherette, this copy is bound in a smooth light red cloth with gilt magic square to front and gilt titles to spine. Issued without dust jacket. 268 pages. Illustrated with numerous magic squares throughout.

This copy is in beautiful condition. Corners are sharp and the interior is clean and unmarked. About Fine.

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The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage is considered by many to be the most important and powerful grimoire of the western magical tradition. Translated by MacGregor Mathers, one of the founding members of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, it was used regularly by members of the order and was a great influence on a young Aleister Crowley, who purchased his famous Boleskine House in Scotland, specifically to work the rituals presented in this volume, which required a minimum of six months (six moons) of isolated preparation. Crowley chose to abandon this plan in order to assist Mathers during the Golden Dawn schism of 1901. Crowley would later incorporate the ritual into his own mystical system and felt it to be a required operation for any serious student of magic. 

Mathers had first heard of the existence of the original manuscript many years before publication, from a “celebrated occultist, since dead” and was later reminded of it by a personal friend, the well-known French author, lecturer and poet, Jules Bois. The manuscript was included in the extensive private collection of Antoine Rene’ Voyer D’Argenson, Marquis de Paulny, which was thought to be one of the richest private collections in the world at the time. It was this collection that became the “Bibliotheque de l’Arsenal” in Paris, which first opened its doors to the public in 1797. 

The rare and unique manuscript of the Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin was a French translation from the original Hebrew of Abraham the Jew. It was done in the style of script usual at about the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries, and (according to Mathers) is apparently by the same hand as another MS. of the Magic of Picatrix also in the “Bibliotheque de l’Arsenal.” Mathers knew of no other existing copy or replica of the Abra-Melin manuscript, not even in the British Museum, whose enormous collection of Occult Manuscripts he was thoroughly familiar with. 

Mathers’s introduction is superb. It even has its own table of contents. At the end of the introduction Mathers states: “I will only say that I have written this explanatory Introduction purely and solely as a help to genuine Occult students; and that for the opinion of the ordinary literary critic who neither understands nor believes in Occultism, I care nothing.” 

The translated manuscript is divided into three main books, all directly addressed to Abraham’s son, Lamech. The first book includes advice on magic, as well as an autobiography of the author, specifically relating to his travels and experiences with different men he studied with prior to, and including Abramelin. He shares his observations on each of these men, detailing their shortcomings and other faults. It is noted that many of these men performed some impressive acts of magic, though Abraham found that it was a far cry from the True and Veritable Magic he was seeking. It wasn’t until he was guided far into the Arabian desert to meet Abramelin that he found what he was indeed looking for. The first book details all of these events and activities and concludes with examples of the many acts of magic Abraham himself took part in with details of the results achieved. 

The majority of this volume is made up by the second and third books which is the grimoire itself. The text describes an elaborate ritual whose purpose is to obtain the "knowledge and conversation" of the magician's “guardian angel.” The preparations are elaborate, difficult, and long. During the period of the work, the magician must daily pray before sunrise and again at sunset. During this preparatory phase, there are many restrictions which must be observed, and the magician must conduct his business with scrupulous fairness. After the preparatory phase has been successfully completed, the magician's Holy Guardian Angel will appear and reveal magical secrets. Once this is accomplished, the magician must evoke the 12 Kings and Dukes of Hell (Lucifer, Satan, Leviathan, Belial, etc.) and bind them. Thereby, the magician gains command of them in his own mental universe, and removes their negative influence from his life. Further, these spirits must deliver a number of familiar spirits (four principal familiars, and several more associated with a set of magical word-square talismans). The magical goals for which the demons can be employed are typical of those found in other grimoires: the practitioner is promised the ability to find buried treasure, cast love charms, the ability of magical flight, the secret of invisibility, and more. Because the work involves evocation of demons, the Abramelin operation has been compared to Goetic magic, especially by European scholars. However, the text's primary focus is upon the invocation of the guardian angel.