The original manuscript was penned in French in the late 18th Century. Only one copy is known of and this is preserved in the Bibliotheque Arsenal in Paris, the title page being reproduced on the last page of this publication. It is embellished with stencilled designs and these decorations (and no others) are reproduced in the book. The typeface chosen, Caslon, was that most widely used on the Continent at that period and is sympathetic to the stencilled title of the manuscript.
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Extremely rare and difficult to find title by Society for Esoteric Endeavour. For those completest out there this is one that doesn’t come around very often.
Society for Esoteric Endeavour 2007 1st Edition, large format (10½ ins x 7 ins) 20pp. Numbered limited edition of 80 copies this being number 8. Large format 13ins x 9ins, padded boards, pigskin leather label, linen cover secured with pigskin leather ties. minor dimpling to the cover which is common with this book in fact I’ve never seen one without it otherwise in perfect unread condition.
From the publisher:
The original manuscript was penned in French in the late 18th Century. Only one copy is known of and this is preserved in the Bibliotheque Arsenal in Paris, the title page being reproduced on the last page of this publication. It is embellished with stencilled designs and these decorations (and no others) are reproduced in the book. The typeface chosen, Caslon, was that most widely used on the Continent at that period and is sympathetic to the stencilled title of the manuscript. The text is remarkable. It seems to describe a ritual that the writer carried out. Protection is sought from a demonic Trinity before Christian powers are used to evoke an infernal spirit, specially associated with the place of the working, into a piglet that is led into a magic circle where it is slain. This releases the spirit but it he is constrained within the circle until he signs the Grimoire of the title, which has been prepared according to certain specifications. The book is then treated like a child, being baptised with a godparent present and so forth. The text states that if you are in possession of the original Grimoire “..or one like it” then you do not have to perform the complete ritual but just read out the conjurations. The original spirit will then send one of his minions to assist you. For this reason this the physical manifestation of this, the first ever edition, is guided by the specifications given in the text. It is stated that it should be written on ten leaves of parchment and the here it is printed on that number of leaves of goatskin parchment paper, giving 20pp of text plus generous endpapers. The text states that the Grimoire should be bound in taffeta. This edition is bound in pure silk shrubbed taffeta of the kind that would have been available at the period. Then, as now, it is a luxury material, woven with two different colours of thread, one colour going in one direction the other colour perpendicular to that. Given that the text requires use of such an opulent material a cloth which combines purple and gold threads has been chosen. Some of the 80 sets of sheets are not yet bound and a different coloured taffeta may be used for these to give future bibliographers food for thought. This means that the material appears to be different colours depending upon how the book is held and it shimmers when it moves. The boards are padded to best present the cloth binding. The label which is sunk into the padded boards is of natural coloured pigskin leather gilt stamped with pure gold, giving the title set within the magic circle given in the book. The gold too shimmers as the book is moved. Pigskin leather was used in book binding up until the end of the 18th Century but many book collectors would now be unlikely to have encountered an example. Here it has been chosen to reference the use of a pig in the ritual. Instructions are given that the book be held in incense smoke, the incense recipe being given. This has been done so that the book will smell as it should when read. Then the instructions state that the book be wrapped in a cross shaped piece of pure white linen.. This too has been done using 100% pure linen (most modern “linens” include cotton fibre whilst this linen is entirely made of flax fibre) and is supplied secured by pigskin leather ties. Thus the reader has to touch and feel the pigskin leather. The leather ties pass through metal eyelets which, future boibliographers may note, gives rise to three variants. Some have brass eyelets, others tin then some have copper. The endpapers are of a dusty pink Fabrio Ingres mould made paper. Each books number and limitation by a tipped in bookplate showing the All Seeing Eye that is the symbol of the Society of Esoteric Endeavour printed on Griffin Mill handmade paper.
The writer states that he was given the ritual by a sea captain. Whilst the generation glamours of grimoires always owe more to imagination than reality this text is an interesting halfway house between the scholarly magic of intellectuals working under the patronage of princes (such as Dee) and the folk magic of those who must, at all costs, protect their crops and livestock. Examples of the latter can be found in some of the spells in the appendices of the Society of Esoteric Endeavour edition of the Gimoire of Pope Honorius. The Grimoire of the Spirit of the Place does have cosmopolitan, Mediterranean references. There is mention of the Ass Headed God which occurred in Italian and Egyptian traditions. The conjurations were written in Latin by someone who was able, but no scholar. They made mistakes that proved an interesting test for a modern academic translator to unravel so as to accurately capture the writer’s intent. Both the original Latin and the translation are given, printed in different colours for sake of clarity. The conjurations have curious Biblical references that owe more to folk traditions than a reading of the actual Testaments. The writer clearly realises he is describing a dangerous path that would be seen as profoundly delinquent and there are great admonitions to secrecy. Also, it is stated, no one should attempt the ritual unless they are terrified of making a mistake, however minor. Clearly it is intended that the operator should be in an extreme state of mind when performing the ritual. The Grimoire uses the assumed superiority of Christian powers over Infernal spirits to compel one to appear and to assist operator. One wonders if this might be considered a Gnostic impulse. Swimming in a world that is shades of grey it feels natural to use the forces of light to control the forces of darkness to ease ones way. The actual structure of the ritual, the way the spirit is conjured into the pig and released into the circle and so forth, is sophisticated and not present in other Grimoire texts. The baptism of the Grimoire as a child in particular seems very modern, reminiscent of post-Crowley notions of the Magickal Child.
The original manuscript was written in Old French. This has been translated by Philippe Pissier who, having translated Crowley into French and written about occultism, has the eye to communicate the magical viewpoint of the writer.
Whilst there are a plethora of books about magic there are very few magical books. It is hoped that this item issued by the Society of Esoteric Endeavour, its form and even its smell being determined by the text itself for magical purposes, might be considered such.
Images are presented below. However before accessing this pictures one may wish to consider the difference in the experience of unwrapping the book from the cross of white linen, smelling the scent of the incense which it carries, touching it and seeing it for the first time. Surely the experience will be far more intense if one has not already seen images of the book. If you are sure you want the book you may wish to avoid seeing the images.
Having been held in incense smoke, wrapped in the linen cross and then packed in tissue paper and sealed in bubble wrap, it is not possible to view which number each copy is. Accordingly it is totally luck of the draw which number one receives.