Grimoire

A page from a 14th century copy of the Picatrix.
A page from a 14th century copy of the Picatrix. See https://www.wdl.org/en/item/7305/.
A grimoire is a book of spells and incantations, ways of making talismans and charms and methods of summoning spirits. There are a number of famous ones, listed below. Some grimoires are true relics of ancient civilizations, including the cuneiform tablets of the Akkadians and Graeco-Egyptian spells written on scraps of papyrus, which are often called grimoires, but most date from the late medieval period. “Grimoire” is a Old French word, denoting a work book or textbook – a reference and book of instructions.

Mephistopheles gives Faust a Book….
“Doctor Faustus living in all manner of pleasure that his heart could desire, continuing in his amorous drifts, his delicate fare, and costly apparel, called on a time his Mephostophilies to him: which being come, brought with him a booke in his hand of all maner of diuelish and inchanted artes, the which he gaue Faustus, saying: hold my Faustus, worke now thy hearts desire…” (Faust Book)

The identity of the true author was commonly hidden to protect them from prosecution, and to give the texts more weight and honour or to pay respect. They were instead attributed to ancient patriarchs and notorious sorcerers such as Faust. Since even being in possession of a grimoire was illegal, one did not want to be found either writing or printing heretical texts or practising black magic.

Handmade manuscripts at first, rare and expensive, since about the eighteenth century there’s been a trade in selling printed grimoires to the general public, though often sold surreptitiously as they are still inescapably associated with witchcraft and the demonic by Christians and may promote illegalities.

Undoubtedly, a primal human attraction to dark and mysterious powers ensures their continuing popularity. The Necronomicon is an example of a modern grimoire written largely to satisfy popular demand for the fabled Necronomicon of H. P. Lovecraft’s fiction.

Going back much further—to the late 16th century publication of the first Faust books or before and associated with John Dee—the Voynich manuscript, though still un-decoded, might be a grimoire created for sale as a curiosity, possibly created for sale to Rudolf II[1].

Faust used magic books. In the books they’re how he tries to summon Mephistopheles and how he hopes to protect himself from Mephistophele’s powers. The real Faust did not likely author any grimoires, but several are attributed to him. One, the Black Raven, written is available through the links below.

"Cyprianus, 18th century. Cyprianus is also known as the Black Book, and is the textbook of the Black School at Wittenburg, the book from which a witch or sorceror gets his spells. The Black School at Wittenburg was purportedly a place in Germany where one went to learn the black arts."  Wellcome Library, London,
“Cyprianus, 18th century. Cyprianus is also known as the Black Book, and is the textbook of the Black School at Wittenburg, the book from which a witch or sorceror gets his spells. The Black School at Wittenburg was purportedly a place in Germany where one went to learn the black arts.” Wellcome Library, London,

Grimoires Associated with Faust:
(Leo Ruickbie’s Faustus (Amazon Link) lists grimoires attributed to Faust in the Appendix.)

Some famous grimoires:

Many of the grimoires listed can be found via a Google search. Many are available in occult collection bittorrents.

External links

Footnotes

  1. Rudolf II (18 July 1552 – 20 January 1612) was Holy Roman Emperor (1576–1612), King of Hungary and Croatia (as Rudolf I, 1572–1608), King of Bohemia (1575–1608/1611) and Archduke of Austria (1576–1608). From Wikipedia. []