CROWLEY, Aleister]. Translated by S. L. MacGregor MATHERS. The Lesser Key of Solomon – Goetia – The Book of Evil Spirits. Chicago: De Laurence, 1916. Reprint. Hardcover, issued without dust jacket. Small octavo. Though dated as 1916, This is a much more recent edition. De Laurence never updated the dates on his reprint editions. Black cloth (not the usual dark blue) with gilt titles to front and spine. 80 pages plus 6 pages of plates showing sigils, seals and tables. A tiny bit of rubbing to upper right front cover otherwise a bright, near fine copy.
The Goetia contains descriptions and evocations of 72 demons. This version is based on manuscripts from the British Museum, with additions by Crowley, including a Preliminary Invocation drawn from Goodwin’s Fragment of a Graeco-Egyptian Work upon Magic, and the essay The Initiated Interpretation of Ceremonial Magic. It is not a faithful edition of the source manuscripts but contains several innovations, including some evocations in Enochian written by Crowley. In his introduction, Crowley argues that the work of demonic evocation is merely a form of psychological self-exploration. Crowley states thus: “After returning from Edinburgh, I do not seem even to have kept a record and I remember nothing about my doings. July is however the date of an essay “The initiated interpretation of ceremonial magick” which I prefaced to my edition of The Goetia. I had employed Mathers to translate the text of The Lesser Key of Solomon the King of which The Goetia is the first section. He got no further; after the events of 1900, he had simply collapsed morally. I added a translation of the conjurations into the Enochian or Angelic language; edited and annotated the text, prefixed a “Preliminary Invocation”, added a prefatory note, a Magical Square (intended to prevent improper use of the book) and ultimately an Invocation of Typhon when the First Magical War of the Aeon of Horus was declared” — The Confessions of Aleister Crowley. New York, NY. Hill and Wang, 1969. Page 362. Though there is no mention of Mathers on the title page, these are most often considered to be his translations, though it is rumoured that he transcribed an English manuscript already located in The British Museum. It is evident that Crowley had quite a hand in annotating, editing, and contributing to this volume – one only need look at the preface and especially the introductory essay: ‘The Initiated Interpretation of Ceremonial Magic”, which was written at Boleskine House. It is also stated concerning the conjurations at the end of the volume that these have been “rendered into ye Magicall or Angelike Language by our Illustrious and ever-Glorious Frater, ye Wise Perdurabo” (Crowley’s magical motto). The book is actually a pirated version of the edition Crowley first published at Boleskine in 1904, under the title ‘The Book of the Goetia of Solomon the King’, and in an edition of 200 copies. De Laurence had a very bad habit of never identifying the dates of later printings, thus all De Laurence copies of this title retain the 1916 date and they were published at least well into the 1980s and, based on the condition of this volume, perhaps even much later. De Laurence also removed the magic square that Crowley added to the original edition (on the verso of the title page).