Sunday, 1 August 2021

The Italian Source of Sefer Mafteach Shelomoh




First of all, I would like to acknowledge the immense help and generosity of a man not mentioned enough: Daniel Clark. He edited and saved a vast collection and manuscripts and in some cases, payed a great deal to have some scanned, which were previously unknown to researchers. It is because of this particular friend that I am aware of the manuscript we will discuss below. He found it browsing through catalogues and payed to have it photographed, and later on, considered me the right man to share it with, for which I am greatly indebted. 


The Gollancz Manuscript


Was dated by Herman Gollancz to about 1700 and published it in facsimile in 1917. It is the most known and circulated version of this work. 


The British Library Manuscript

Or 14759 is part of the same Sefer Mafteach Shelomoh. According to the square and semi-cursive Sephardic script, it is dated to the 17th-18th centuries (1600-1799), which is quite the range. According to Rohtbacher, (op. cit. p.129) the original language of the work was Italian, without any doubt. 
 

The Asterdam Manuscript

According to the same study (Rohtbacher, p.129), there is another manuscript of the SMS is Amsterdam, Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana  MS. Ros. 12.,  transcript dated to 1729 by Isaac Zekel ben Yidel Kohen Worms from a copy by Judah Perez in London. Since this copy is not known and since the Gollancz collection was in London, we might speculate weather this Perez copy could be inharited by Gollanz, or be an entirely different work.  Rohtbacher relates it corresponds to the Gollancz manuscript but seems to depend upon different exemplars. If you are looking for a well-put together account of Italian words kept in the SMS, Rohtbacher is a good place to start. 

The Italian Manuscript

The manuscript we are studying has the call number msBF1608.S7, it s dated to circa 1850 and was acquired by the Library of  the University  St. Andrews at the sale of Dr. John Lee's library on 6 April 1861. I had no idea who this John Lee was, but thanks to Dan Harms and his endless generosity with resources, pointed me in the right direction: Dr. John Lee, Scottish academic, polymath and bibliophile, who dies in 1859 and seems to correspond closely to the man we`re after. 

From my point of view, the dating of 1850 seems a bit late judging from the paleography, with such archaic features like U replacing the V and the apostrophe replacing the I. I would have guessed 18th century (1700-1799), but I m no expert. So I contacted two experts in Italian Vernacular scripts, Maddalena Modesti and Armando Petrucci, and am awaiting their reply, if any, to conclude the dating of the script. 


The Sefer Mafteach Shelomoh is quite a colorful treatise, consisting in a mix of works of ceremonial and astral magic of diverse lengths. The longest is the Clavicula Solomonis proper, followed by extracts of Liber Juratus, Book of Raziel, the Heptameron or rather, the Elucidarium Nigromantiae and various small treatises such as Liber Bileth, the Images of Zoel and experiments of various origins.  As previously established by most researchers, chiefly Gershom Scholem, the Sefer Mafteach Shelomoh is not the original Hebrew work that spawned other editions, but rather a 17th or 18th translation of an Italian work. 

My next post will be a full table of contents of the Italian version, compared side by side with Gollancz.    And once I have permission from the St. Andrews University Library, I will reproduce more drawings. 

While the manuscript we are dealing now may be and may not be the direct source of the SMS, it is a more coherently organized work and it may be at least a later copy of the Italian original. 


Illustration Study

In order to ascertain the dependency of one manuscript upon another, script, language and watermaks are used most commonly. But we have one tool more, namely comparing graphical elements that are common to two or more sources. It is impossible to have two identical drawings in two manuscripts, but oftentimes, slight changes to shape or slight overlooked similarities help us pinpoint what manuscripts are truly related.  

The Operation of Simon Magus

Gollancz Version 


Gollancz  fol. 55v

The figure in Gollancz is a circle, centered around a smaller circle with the tag ”Place of the Master”, which are united by four cardinal lines. Each segment contains a seal, repeated four composed of three figures, to which we will refer to, from left to right, as the first character, the second character and the third character. The outer space contains a similar seal, composed of two characters bearing resemblance to the three, one of which (the hexagram) is placed cardinally. Between the seal and the cardinally placed star we have the Hebrew name of each direction. For easy identification, see the chart below.


Inspecting this chart and comparing the seals we find the following characteristics:

-The second character in A1, A2 and A3 face a cross bar terminated with circles, rendered in one scribal motion, while in A4 this. characteristic is reduced, for the sake of quickness, to a horizontal 8. 
-The third character in A1, A2 and A4 feature two distict lines coming from the top circle. In A3, these are conjoined, one line that ascends and descends and is topped by a circle.
-The first character in B1, B2 and B3 begins with the same element (the backwards F figure), while in B4 contains a mistake presumably, an 8 figure.
-The first character in B2, B3 and B4 has a middle section of an hourglass round at the top and flat at the bottom, while in B1 this is rounded at both ends. 

 British Library Version 


Fol.48r

Right away a few visible differences are apparent:
 
-The central circle is blank.
-The four lines are rotated 45 degrees, becoming now an X, displacing the names of the quadrants cardinally. The uppermost quadrant remains East. 
-Only one hexagram is placed adjacent to the cusp of the quadrants, the others being distributed equally in a visual approximation. 



-The second character in all A seals has a wavy line instead of the circled crossbar, much simpler even than Gollancz A4.
-The third character in A1, A2 and A4 feature two distict lines coming from the top circle. In A3, these are conjoined, one line that ascends and descends and is topped by a circle.
-The first character in B1, B2 and B3 begins with the same element (the backwards F figure), while in B4 contains a mistake presumably, an 8 figure.
-The first character in B2, B3 and B4 has a middle section of an hourglass round at the top and flat at the bottom, while in B1 is more of a disjointed, mirrored B.
-The second character in B1 is missing the superior point.



The Amsterdam Manuscript 

The scan I used, provided freely online by the National Library of Israel, was a scan of the microfilm, so the image has serious bleed-throughs and was quite deficient in quality:

AMST.Ros12 fol 51r, unedited

For the sole purpose of this study I have restored the black ink and enhanced the quality of the details in order to better examine the relevant details of the seals. 


Overall, the layout is more akin to the Gollancz  then to the British Library, with the cardinally-oriented cusps and hexagrams and legenda in the middle reading ”Place of the Master”.

Once we isolate the seals, the following chart can be made:


-The second character in A1-A4 has the horizontal line with opposite circles.  
- B4 contains the same recurring mistake, the 8-shape.
-B1 rounded at both ends. 
 

St. Andrews Version 




The traits are quite clear with this image: similarity to Gollancz and Amsterdam and dissimilarity to British Library, cardinal lines and hexagrams, central legenda reads Loco del Maestro (Place of the Master).


-Shockingly, the second character in A1-A4 has the horizontal line with opposite circles. 
 
-Amazingly, B4 contains the same recurring mistake, the 8-shape.

-Breathtakingly, B1 is rounded at both ends.

My take on the dispersion of this work? 
This veritable magical encyclopedia was penned somewhere in Italy in the sixth or seventeenth century.  Two direct copies of this are both Gollancz (1700) and St. Andrews. The presumable Judah Perez copy, if not identical to Gollancz, also uses this text. The Amsterdam copy from 1729 by Isaac Zekel is quite late in the career of this book, while the newest  version seems to be the British Library, that also includes supplimentary material. The path of this work, from Italy to the Lower Countries to England, is highly linked to the diffusion of the Shabbathaist movement. This is to be studied further. 

Until we can find an even older Clavicle with similar structure, this version will serve to explore the Italian source of the SMS.




Digital Sources:

Amsterdam, Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana AMST.Ros.12

Gollancz, Herman: Sepher Maphteah Shelomoh

London, British Library Manuscript Or 14759
http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/Viewer.aspx?ref=or_14759_f001r 


Printed Sources:

Gollancz, Herman: Sepher Maphteah Shelomoh, Teitan Press Facsimile, foreward by Stephen Skinner, 2008, copy 118/ 358  






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Monday, 26 July 2021

The Book Of the 12 Hours of the Night

”The fourth hour of the night is called Allachayr or Alayr and the angel of this hour is called Jesischa, who has comand and domination over twelve other princes and their subjects and servants. During this hour the demons, the (10) shadows and the phantasms walk upon the tombs of the dead and show themselves visibly to men in a way which oftentimes, will induce a great horror to them, dread, fear, anguish and apprehention, so much so that the hair upon their heads will stand and they will tremble in fright. In this hour is to be made the figure ...”



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Monday, 5 July 2021

The Figures of the Hours of the Night (BSG.MS.3163)

 First of all, a big Thank You to my Patreons, who kept supporting my studies even though visible marks of my work were not apparent. Yes, I kept researching for good content. Yes, I have translated and extracted stuff. Yes, I kept cleaning up old images.   Thank you for sticking around. 


Now then... Earlier this year, a good amount of interesting manuscripts was made available in tremendous quality by the Bibliotheque Sainte Genevieve. 

One of them is a late (17th? 18th? century) translation of the De Viginti Quattuor Horis (Of the 24 Hours), ascribed to Hermes or Balenus.   The work was treated by Ioannis Marathakis in his astounding volume dedicated to the Apotelesmata.

The thing is, the Latin version of this work differs from the Greek. The names of the hours are different and the names of the angels and there are two rectangular seals for each of the 24 hours. This work, along with the seals, is present in the Ghent Manuscript as well as in the Leipzig Collection.

One BSG manuscript, namely MS3163, contains (pp.1-45) a French rendition of this work with partial seals, for the 12 hours of the night, translated from Latin by one Jean Hulet.  

While I will make efforts to transcribe and translate this fragment, I wish to bring to you the seals so far, with their readings, and one mention: these are the original seals and instructions of the Pauline Art.  

Yes, the original version of the Pauline Art was not written by Paul, no, not by Trithemius either, no, the circular astrological seals of the Lemegeton were not the original characters meant to be employed, merely a replacement in lack of any characters since Trithemius did not bother with the seals themselves. 

And yes, Trithemius cites Hermes as a source:

-vt dicit Hermes Hebræus, qui dictus est Salomon, in libro quarto de officiis spirituum (so says Hermes the Hebrew, which is called Salomon, in the fourth book of the offices of spirits.)

-quemadmodum Salomon cognomento Hermes in suo secreto Magicæ testatur. (in this way does Salomon also known by the name of Hermes testify in his Secret of Magic)

 -vt Hermes Hebræus & Raziel Arabs testantur (as Hermes the Hebrew and Raziel the Arab testify)

-Et dicit Salomon Iudæus cognomento Hermes, in libro de natura spirituum (And Salomon the Jew also called Hermes says, in his Book on the Nature of Spirits) 

A volume containing specifficaly the names of the spirits if the hours of the day and night is cited secretum Salomonis, cognominati Hermetis in suo de Magia volumine (the secret of Salomon, also called Hermes, in his volume On Magic).

Trithemius cites such a work in his Antipalus Maleficiorum:

[52] Est porro ex operibus Hermetis liber alius de compositione imaginum, secundum XXIV horas diei et noctis, qui a plerisque Balenitz adscribitur20 sapienti, sed mihi non videtur ejus habere processum. Incipit autem: Dixit Hermes ‘Quicunque voluerit in magnis operationibus’ ( and further of these works there is another book of Hermes on the composition of images, according to the 24 hours of the day and night, also ascribed to the sage Balenitz, but I cannot see it having any finality. It begins thus: So says Hermes: Whomesoever wants in great operations... )


 Since the Lemegeton relies on Trithemius 2 I have chosen to go with the names of the hours and of the angels from T2. Perhaps a later study will include name variants in all Ars Paulina manuscripts. 

This is a side by side comparison of the names contained in our fragment and in the Second book of the Steganographia (with many thanks, as usual, to Joseph Peterson), with the mention that the hour of the night is named first, followed by the governing angel:

Hour

BSG.MS.3163

Trithemius 2

1

 

Omalharien

Sahatan

Sabrathan

2

 

Panezur

Tartis

Tartys

3

 

Quabrion

Serquamith

Serquanich

4

 

Ramerzy

Iesischa

Iefischa

5

 

Sanayfar

Abasdaron

Abasdarhon

6

 

Thaazaron

Zaazenach

Zaazenach

7

 

Venaydor

Pelayam

Mendrion

8

 

Xymalim

Marcoriel

Narcoriel

9

 

Zeschar

Pamiel

Pamyel

10

 

Malcho

Lasquaryn

Iasguarim

11

 

Aalacho

Dardanariel

Dardariel

12

 

Xephan

Sarandiel

Sarandiel


I have done my best to extract the seals, clean them and translate the French description. I also added in parantheses the Legenda, that is, the words contained in the seals, for the sake of legibility). 


Figures of the Hours of the Night 

(pp.36-45)


(1)Figure of the first hour of the night, for enforcing all manners of silencing.

The face of the figure


The back of the figure.
(petras sit mutas, Orifiel, Anael)



(2)Here is the figure of Tartis

The front of the figure

The back of the figure.
(Tartis, Rana, Armayl, Nasiel)



(3) This is the figure of the angel Serquamith

the face of the figure.

the back of the figure.
(Atiel, Serquamith)



(4) Here follows the figure of Iesischa

The face of the figure

The back of the figure
(Belmeniel, Pierre.corde.Anne, Iesischa, Vriel)



(5) Here is the figure of the angel Abasdarhon

The face of the figure

The back of the figure
(Abasdarhon, soit a p~sent ce la fait, Sahatan, baalyn)



(6) Figure of the angel Zaazenach

The front of the figure

The back of the figure
(Zaazenach, DE Ie Lie N. dormant, Sahatan, Bartial, Barucheta)




The rest of the images are in my book. 







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