Society of Esoteric Endeavour 2011. Numbered limited edition of 180 copies. (38pp) printed in black and red on 160gsm Fabiano Ingres mould made paper (which has a natural texture – resultant from the production process). Substantial limp canvas binding in printed dustwrapper of archival glassine (a traditional translucent paper – so that the magic circle printed on the cover can be seen through the dustwrapper) 38pp, one foldout printed on 40gsm Bible paper. The endpapers are hand marbled by Zoe Bradley of Ann Muir Ltd. There are a number British craftsmen and women currently making hand marbled paper, this workshop excels in creating a wave effect in the design that can be achieved by thumping the sides of the trays whilst the design is being made. The nature of the book makes a place ribbon useful, it is made of pure silk, rather than the synthetics usually employed. The book is hand sewn and hand bound. Book is in new unread condition.
It is not always realised that when Goethe wrote Faust he was drawing upon an extensive corpus of often quite folky publications concerning the famous yarn. These included grimoires attributed to Faust himself. One was published as a series of 11 lithographs of text and illustration in the middle of the 19th Century in a collection of chapbooks, fairy tales and other popular miraculous literature. This book commences with reproductions of the lithographs in the same small format as originally issued (6.5ins x 4.5ins) though their appearance is rather improved. Then follows a commentary and translation. This translates the German and Latin of the original, and also notes any variation between the published text and a manuscript of an English translation of the same (though variant – not having the illustrations) work made by Major F. G. Irwin, member of the Golden Dawn, co-founder of the Fratres Lucis, member of the Society of Eight. This manuscript was in the possession of A.E.Waite and is now in a public library in the United States of America.
The commentary also explains the significance of the illustrations. These enunciate a surprisingly sophisticated magical philosophy. Perhaps significantly, it is more easily described than categorised. Christian powers of Light are utilized to control Lucifer (the light bearer) who is followed by his dark counterpart Mephistophiles (whose name derives from the Greek for “Not-light-lover”) who is the terrifying other who can negate the ego of the practitioner. The cunning nature of the illustration of Mephistophiles, who is not, himself delineated, but whose presence is implied by lines of force and is cloaked in the letters of his name indicates the artist is fully appraised with the significance of the name, which is another form of is Lucifuge Roficale (Lucifuge meaning “one who flees the light). Having mastered this polarity the practitioner can now utilise the powers of the ultimate play of polarity, the forces of generation. It is an observation by Mr. Daniel Schulke that indicates the specific field:- one component of the final lithograph appears to be a representation of the actual (uncarved) appearance of the mandrake plant, suggesting that this relates to the generation of homunculi.
An additional diagram from the Irwin manuscript is reproduced as a foldout on 40 gsm Bible paper. This also evinces the averse process described above. First the reverse is generated, then that reverse if mirrored again, but upon a different axis. Here the medium is not religious imagery but numerology. The end is the same, the creation of a homunculus, or familiar, which is illustrated. The numerology is sophisticated and surprising, even utilizing binary numbers. However, the commentary reveals how binary numbers, when first described in 1703, were believed to be the universal mathematical key underlying the creative interplay of Ying and Yang described in the I Ching, of which the West had just learnt of from Jesuit missionaries. In the diagram, there is reference to the same interplay of the western alchemical equivalents, the sun and moon.
The anonymous commentary make no claim to be complete, concentrating on the symbolism of the illustrations, there is some Hebrew, a little Greek undeciphered, and it is likely that further numerological aspects of the final illustrations can be unlocked. The publisher welcomes contributions (which, of course, will be credited) to a supplement, which may be published at a later date.