Honorius of Thebes: The Sworn Book

(a) When wicked spirits were gathered together intending to send demons into the hearts of men, so that they should destroy all things profitable for mankind and to corrupt the whole world, even to the uttermost of their power, they sowed among men hypocrisy and envy and rooted bishops and prelates in pride. Even the pope and his cardinals were affected, and gathering themselves together said to each other:

That grace which our Lord has given his people is now through magic and necromancy turned into the damnation of all people. For even the magicians are being intoxicated and blinded by the devil, and contrary to the order of Christ's Church, and transgressing the commandment of God, which is, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God, but Him only thalt thou serve," and denying the sacrifice due God, they have done sacrifice unto devils and are abusing God's name in the calling of devils. This is contrary to the profession made at baptism, for there it is said," I forsake Satan and all his pomps." These magicians do not only follow the pomps and works of Satan, but have brought all people, by means of illusions, into errors, drawing the ignorant and such like into the damnation of both soul and body... It is right, therefore, to pluck up and utterly to destroy this deadly root and all the followers of magical art.

Moved by covetousness and envy under the similitude of truth, these bishops and prelates through demonic instigation spread abroad false and unlikely stories. For it is not possible that a wicked and unclean man could work truly in this art; for men are not bound unto spirits, but spirits are constrained against their will to answer clean men and fulfill their requests. Yet against our will we have gone about to set forth the principles of magical art in the cause of truth. For that cause the Church condemned magical art and judged us to death. We, through God's sufferance, having foreknowledge of this judgement and knowing that much mischief would follow, thought to seek the aid of spirits; for it was impossible for us to escape the people by our own power. Yet we feared a greater danger: the wicked power of the spirits under our command would have destroyed all of our enemies at once. Instead we called a general council of all the masters of magic. In this council of 811 masters from Naples, Athens, and Toledo we chose Honorius, son of Euclid, and the master of the Thebans, where magic was read, to work for us in magical art. Honorius with the counsel of the angel Hocroell wrote 7 volumes of magical art, giving to us the kernel and to others the shells. Out of these 7 volumes he composed a book of 93 chapters in which is contained the effect of magical art. We call this book The Sacred or Sworn Book, for in it is contained 100 sacred names of God and thus sacred, for it is made of holy things, and because Hocroell did deliver and show Honorius that it was consecrated by God. The princes and prelates, pacified with burning mere fables and trifles, thought verily that magical art had been destroyed. Wherefore we being somewhat moved made this oath among ourselves: that this book is not to be delivered to anyone unless the master be in danger of death; that only 3 copies will be made of it; it is not to be given to a woman or a minor; the recipient shall be godly and faithful and tested for one year; this book be restored to Honorius or his successors, and if no one can be found able and sufficient to receive it the master will bind his executors to bury it with him in the grave or he must bury it and never reveal its place; scholars of magical art will suffer death rather than betray the confidence of their master; the master will unite his disciples in concord and love so that they will always help each other; one will not reveal the secrets of another; and he who works in magic will keep every article of this oath. For this reason this is called The Sworn Book. In the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and true and living God, I, Honorius, appoint in my book the work of Solomon; I profess that the divine mystery is the only arch-principle and that true invocation must come from the faith of the heart, which faith these works declare. Solomon said that there is only one God from whom all perfection and the effect of every work proceeds. [prologue.]

(b) Of angels there are three kinds: celestial, of the air, and of the earth. Of celestial angels there are two kinds: those who serve God only and those who serve God but will also answer man. Those who serve God only are cherubim, seraphim, thrones, dominations, virtues, principalities, power, archangels, and angels. These angels will not be constrained by artificial power, for they always stand before the divine majesty and are never separated from its presence.... The other celestial angels are of the seven heavens and may be invoked along with the spirits of earth, air [and elements]. [c. 3]

(c) Note that there are three kinds of men who work in magical art: pagans, Jews, and Christians. Pagans sacrifice to the spirits of the air and earth, but they do not bind or constrain them. The spirits feign themselves to be bound by the words of their law so that they may make them commit idolatry and never turn to the true faith; because their faith is naught, their works are naught.... Jews do not work to obtain the true vision of God, for by the coming of Christ they lost their pre-eminence; they cannot come to heaven, for the Lord said, He who is not baptized will be damned. They cannot by invocations bring any work to effect, because they are not alive in Christ.... Yet by the power of divine names spirits are constrained to come, but because the Jews are not signed with the sign of the cross their spirits will not answer them truly. Thus only a Christian can come to the divine vision and succeed in all other works. [c. 3]

(d) Be penitent and truly confessed of all sins, forbearing female company and all female enticements and not gaze on womankind... Let not your clothes be filthy, but new or well washed... For a poor man does sooner work effectively in this art than a rich one, but clean vestments are necessary, for angels abide with God and are clean and thus desire to communicate only with thoroughly clean men. Be never idle lest you be inclined to sin... [c. 8]

(e) ...Upon a Friday, after having truly repented and confessed your sins, begin a fast of bread and water and before sunrise at tierce and at sext recite [specified prayers from elsewhere in the work], then you may dine. Do the same on Saturday and Sunday, but on Sunday do not fast, eat either fish or meat as you wish. In your sleep Sunday evening it will be revealed to you by an angel whether or not you will obtain your desire. If your petition is judged favorably, do all that will be taught to you following. If your request is denied start over again on the next Friday, but take care better to prepare yourself so that your petition will be adjudged favorably. Do as you did before, but on Sunday give alms to three needy and poor persons with charity and compassion and extend your preparatin to Monday. Continue reciting the prayers, but change your petition to a plea that God be merciful to you. Do not be dissatisfied with God, search your conscience, give alms and cause various masses to be said.... [c. 9]

(f) ...If you fall into sin confess it and fast for seven days. Form a friendship with a priest so that he will say masses for you. Have him say the mass of the Holy Spirit and ask him to insert the following prayers in the assigned places [if that cannot be done, attend the mass and read in the prayers yourself] ... and pray that your petition be granted; receive the sacrament and recite [two others], and after postcommunion [another]. Take heed that you cannot receive the sacrament and intend evil, for that would be death to him who would try it, wherefore some men call this book a book of death, but it is only so for those who intend evil. [c. 9]

(g) Petition: for the vision of God say as follows: "That I may see thee and behold thy glorious face, send thy Holy Spirit, O Lord, into my heart and into my soul, to purge and cleanse my conscience, that it might behold thy divine majesty. Grant thy knowledge and power and grace most mercifully and gently to me; teach and instruct me, renew all my senses, teach me charity, purge me and correct me according to thy most godly discipline, even unto my life's end. Amen." If you labour for knowledge say: "Put forth thy hand and touch my mouth, and make it as a sharp sword to consecrate words as well as deeds, and make them even as a chosen shaft to confirm the truth of all thy wonders, and to procure N. [note: "N." is used in medieval Latin texts as we would use "X": the practitioner is to fill in the blank with whatever or whomever he intends] and to obtain them at my pleasure. Put forth thy hand and touch my mouth, and make it as a sharp sword to pronounce these holy words, and make my tongue as a chosen shaft to tell of thy wonders and miracles, and retain them in my memory." If you wish to invoke spirits, say: "Put forth thy hand and touch my mouth, and make it as a sharp sword to speak forth words to constrain and to compell spirits to come and to answer, to stand and to go. Send spirits N. to me, N., the son of N. and N., to show me the marvels of thy holy power, and to speak unto me and to be subject unto me." [note: although the practitioner is speaking to God here, he is asking that the spirits be subject to him, not that God to be subject to him]

(h) Let him who would work in magical art beware that he not be in deadly sin, for if he be, he shall be mad ever after. For the soul, by its nature, desires to see God in whom it delights, but the impediment of sin frustrates its desire and it cannot see God. He who would work in magical art must be willing in his work and utterly cleansed from all filthiness, for the more he suffers the more he shall obtain. The sight of God will not be had without purity. God will not be constrained, but rather prayed to and entreated. Even so, the sight of God is a difficult thing to obtain, for it is a thing above natural reason. [c. 13]

(i) Celestial or planetary angels: Saturn's angels are Bohel, Casziel, Michathon, Datquiel. Their seal[s] [are given]. And their nature is to cause sadness, anger and hatred, and to make snow and ice. Their bodies are long and gentle, pale or yellow, and their region is from the north. Jupiter's angels are Satquiel, Pahamcocihel, Asassaiel. Their seal[s] [are given]. And their nature is to give love, joy, gladness, and the favour of all persons; to bring the dew, flowers, and herbs or to take them away. Their region is the southeast; their bodies are of a mean stature and coloured azure. Mars's angels are Samahel, Satyhel, Ylurahyhel, Amabyhel. And their nature is to cause and excite war, murder, destruction, and the death both of people and all earthly things. Their bodies are of a mean stature, dry and lean, and coloured red; their region is the south.... [c. 25]

(j) How to construct a magic circle [Note the use of a consecrated host (understood to be the real body of Christ in all but outward appearance) in the following] : Take hard stones that are both smoothly cut and without flaw, or take new tiles that are cleansed from all pollution, and take sand and lime for mortar wherewith to make a place for the circle; plane the earth and with the stone or tile construct a platform that is 14 feet in length and breadth, and on this platform construct a circular platform 7 feet in diameter and 3 feet high. If because of poverty you cannot afford stone or tile, the place for the circle may be made of clean earth or clay which is well purged and in which there is neither rift nor break. When the place for the circle is finished, he who shall work in magical art must be cleansed and purified. At your mass have the priest recite the following prayer after consecration [of the host]: [or while attending mass, recite the prayer yourself after consecration]: "O thou Lord Jesus Christ, God and man, who didst vouchsafe by thine own will to come down and visit thy faithful people... I humbly beseech thee, pray to thee, and desire thee... whom I do now hold in my hands for thy servant, N., that through the gift and permission of thy grace, thou wouldst be pleased to constrain all those angels that he shall call for counsel, and that by thy means he shall have company with them." Receive the sacrament, and departing from church recite continually prayer 17 until you arrive at the place of the circle. Upon arriving at the place of the circle bless it with prayer 15, and on the first day do no more. On the second day, attend your mass as before, and after compline go to the place of the circle with a pair of censers and while going recite prayer 17. Upon arriving light the censers and cast incense therein; perfume the place out of which you will call the 4 quarters of the universe, heaven and earth, and while censing recite prayers 1 and 2. Facing the direction from which you will call, and censing the whole circumference of the circle, call by name the angels with whom you will work, the names of the angels of the day, the hour, the month, the season, and the face [=the ruler of the signs] in which you are working: "N., N., N., peace does overcome, a gift subdues... I, N., son of N. and N., therefore, humble myself unto you: Give me peace in this my undertaking..." Construct with a new knife [or with coloured chalk] two concentric circles, and write in the space between the two circles the names of the angels of the hour, the day, the month, the season, and the face, saying: "Come, all you angels, N., peacibly unto the seat of Samaym to which the Lord commanded the tribes of Israel to the increase of his honour; wherefore I do now invoke and call you, N., as Sebedie commanded his subjects to obey; therefore, come." On the third day bath and shave your face, and clothe yourself in clean white linen vestments. Go to the place of the circle, and facing the quarter from which you will call and while without the circle stand and begin. Have the seal of God [note: instructions for making the seal of God are provided in an earlier chapter] in your right hand, cleanly made and consecrated; do and say as you did on day 2, and then perfume the seal and then yourself. Kneel and recite prayer 31, the prayer of Solomon [III Kg 8:22-66], prayer 49, Rothon, maker, etc.... Enter the circle, close all gaps therein, face the direction from which you shall call, and begin the conjurations: Conjuration 1: "All you powerful angels, N., come, you are summoned to acknowledge and be submissive unto the seal of God." Expose the seal of God and continue: "Come before me in a visible form in virtue of the love that you bear to God. I direct and strongly entreat you to come without violence, and without blinding light; come with sympathy and compassion and understanding, and come in virtue of the gift that I give." Cast some quantity of an appropriate perfume on the hot coals. "I call upon you to come and converse with me and fulfill my requests by the power of the invocation of the tremendous names of God the Creator: Agla Monhon Tetragrammaton Elydeus..." [cc. 26-28]

(l) [Spirits of the air] are capable of performing either good or evil according to the will of him who calls them. They reign in harmony with the air and assume qualities and form clearly and visibly. Because they are demons and drawn to the decay of the air, perfumes are used in calling them. Solomon called and bound those who may be summoned when the air is calmed; and pay heed, these demons are stubborn, one must be accustomed to labour long and petition and endure the many conjurations that may be necessary to constrain and compel the demons to appear. [c. 29]

(m) Elemental demons are neither good nor evil, neither benevolent nor malevolent, by nature; thus, they may be employed for either good or evil purposes. It is not the demons, nor the calling of them, nor magical art that is evil, rather, it is the use that evil men may make of magical art that is evil. There is no harm in magical art that is not first in the hearts of evil men; those who are good, and intend good, produce good; those who are evil, and intend evil, produce evil. Men who are good and faithful need fear no harm from magical art, for demons are conquerable and made subservient to the will of a good man by fortitude and courage. [c. 30]

(n) [The demons of the South:] It is within their nature and power to bring to the magician all of the kinds of metals in the world; and, if given an appropriate offering, they will lay open and give freely and abundantly of gold and silver for the magician's benefit and enjoyment; they can also be rapacious, destroying and pulling down whatever you might wish; they can teach of the mixture of the elements; and they can gain for one favour with others and secure position if they be placated and pleased with you. [c. 36]

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