Author: Michael Cecchetelli
Publisher: Scarlet Imprint
Edition: paperback (bibliothèque rouge edition)
Illustrations: Illustrated with seals, sigils and talismans
Crossed Keys is a chimeric binding of the Black Dragon and the Enchiridion of Pope Leo III by grimoire magician Michael Cecchetelli. They are complementary grimoires, spanning the very earliest example of the genre to the late bibliothèque bleue period. Together they comprise a wealth of spells, spirits, lore, talismans and psalm magic, with their head in the highest heavens and their feet in the deepest hells. This is the first time they have been bound into one volume.
Extensively footnoted, the seals corrected, re-drawn and restored, with excerpts and workings from the translator’s magical record, this is a well armed and practical text which throws light on the Grimorium Verum, Red Dragon and Grand Grimoire. It is a vigorous text, designed to be put to use.
The Black Dragon draws heavily on the 1760 (1810) Grimoire of Honorius, which is significantly different to the 1670 edition and the earlier 13th century Sworn Book of Honorius (Liber Juratus) which is an ancestor in title alone. The spirits referenced are therefore those we find in the Grimorium Verumand the seals have been corrected in line with the research of Jake Stratton-Kent, as presented in The True Grimoire (Scarlet Imprint, 2009). The original seals are reproduced for comparison.
In common with many of the bibliothèque bleue texts, the Black Dragon is a pastiche, but one which is clearly more than the sum of its parts. The illuminating preface to the text is not found in any other grimoire sources and evinces that this was the compiled book of a working magician drawing on the available material of the day. The operating system bears similarities with that of the Red Dragon but the cleft stick is replaced with the stang. Yet this is no simple treasure hunting manual. The magician is promised the power to subjugate all the infernal forces – quite a formidable boast. We find many other elements of cunning craft in these pages including the toad bone, black cat bone, horse secrets and traditional spells for good and ill. The black hen and main de gloire are present and there is a notable use of an unusual form of the magic mirror.
It is a fascinating collection of miscellany which though seeming late, cut-up and corrupt has benefited from a fresh translation to be revealed as a text in and of itself.
In contrast, the Enchiridion of Pope Leo III is an early grimoire and a work of nominally Christian magic. Legend suggests that it was presented by Pope Leo III to Charlemagne and was responsible for his worldly success. A suitably disputed date of 1523 is given to its production. The Enchiridion is referred to repeatedly in the Black Dragon and elsewhere in the grimoire tradition where the penitential psalms are required. It is important for us to understand the mindset of the Enchiridion if we are to understand the grimoires. The text was much in vogue in the court of Louis XIV and the circle of Madame de Montespan in the affair of the poisons. It continues to circulate in the French speaking world today, which speaks of its enduring virtue. Through the use of talismans, psalms, orisons and efficacious charms the reader is able to triumph over a multitude of ills.
This is the magic of the Old Religion of Europe, that is, Catholicism. Though the more diabolically inclined of our readers may be righteously appalled at the pious nature of the language, this is an important part of our magical heritage. The methods employed are those of Paganism, and the liturgical approach suggests creative uses of our own holy texts rather than being yoked to those of Christianity. In illicit combination with the Black Dragon, we have delivered up a bastard with papal blood in its veins, which promises to place in your hands the keys to both heaven and hell.
The Black Dragon
I. Conjuration of the Book
II. Preface to the MS
III. The First Part: Evocations
IV. The Great Exorcism
V. The Second Part: Spells and Counter-Spells
VI. The Third Part: Marvelous Secrets
VII. The Fourth Part: The Hand of Glory and The Black Hen
VIII. The Fifth Part: Orisons
Latin Versions of the Prayers
Table of Favorable and Unfavorable Days
IX. The Veritable Secret of The Black Dragon: Being the Observations of a Student of the Arte
The Enchiridion of Pope Leo III
I. To the Wise Cabalists
II. The Psalms of the Enchiridion
III. Introduction to, and origins of the ms, by its original editor
IV. The Orisons of which the magician may avail himself
V. Of the Construction of the Pentacle and Tools of the Arte
VI. The Virtues of the Seven Psalms and Orisons Aforementioned
VII. Mystical Secrets
Notes to the Black Dragon and the Enchiridion
This is the first widely available English language translation of the classical grimoire known as Le Véritable Dragon Noir: Les Forces Infernales Soumises à l’Homme, or The True Black Dragon: the Infernal Forces Subject to Man. Sharing spirits with The True Grimoire and Red Dragon, as well as some of the Elemental Kings from the Goetia, this is a curious text which may illuminate these others in its own peculiar black light. It is bound to a second translation, that of the Enchiridion of Pope Leo III, for reasons which will become apparent, despite the seeming incongruity of an infernal text pressing palms with a work of psalm magic. As such the combined work bears the title of Crossed Keys.
Before endeavoring to introduce this volume it behooves me to spend a moment introducing myself in the interests of assuring you that this book is the creation of an active and practicing magus and not an armchair or theoretical magician. I set out on my path at age 15, primarily within the Golden Dawn system. While claiming to have practiced magick from such a young age may sound to some a flight of fancy, I can assure you it was work of a most serious nature. My teacher was an Adept in the truest sense of the word. Not one of these new age astrally initiated internet adepts, but one who played the game in its original form. I studied with him until the age of 18, when I finally opened my first of the classical grimoires, the Mathers/Crowley Goetia. That book became the catalyst for my transformation. That was 13 years ago, and I have never looked back. I have made the magick of the grimoires and the Ancients my sole pursuit and to it I have remained faithful.
While I continue to study many magickal philosophies and systems, traditional evocation and grimoire magick have become my life’s work, and in this field I have found great success. What separates me from any one of the thousands of others that make this claim is that due to a very unique set of circumstances I had four years of monastic existence wherein I had zero responsibilities, no obligations and absolutely nothing to do but read, study, theorize and practice magick. My entire life consisted of a 9 × 12 foot room where my sole possessions were a small bed, a toilet sink combination, an am/fm walkman and a small desk. As you may have guessed, I’m referring to a prison. Maximum security federal prison. For nearly 4 ½ years, that cell was my entire world, and I was permitted to leave it only for a 15 minute daily shower and one hour of exercise three times a week. I was prohibited from making even the standard prisoners’ collect calls, and every piece of mail I sent and received was photocopied and read before reaching me or leaving the walls of the prison. I was believed to hold the leadership role in what the bureau of prisons considers a Security Threat Group, and I was segregated because, quoting my classification report: Inmate’s presence in a general population or less restrictive environment would pose a threat to the safety and security of the orderly running of the institution and its staff. I was, however, permitted access to the prison chaplain and, through him, to order books via any mail order company. I offer this glimpse into my life not to convince the reader that I am some big, dark, scary figure, but because this sentence, intended to punish me for my transgressions of man’s law, became the the means by which my magickal development was facilitated, and, indeed, expedited.
Consider if you will the scenario in which I found myself and how it differs from that of the modern Magus, who, aside from his study and practice of magick, has to simultaneously live a mundane life. I had absolutely no responsibilities, no obligations, no duty, no distraction from wife or child, no TV, no junk food or other deterrents to progress. My entire world was a 9 × 12 cement room.
I encourage each of you to sit a moment in contemplation of this. With 4 ½ years in this level of solitude, having vast experience with lucid dreaming, astral travel and magick, with nothing to keep you company but the collected works of Aleister Crowley and copies of every grimoire and magickal treatise you could find available by mail order or that you could convince the chaplain to print off the internet, and absolutely no distractions of any sort, to what heights (or depths) could your development reach?
Under those exact conditions, using candles carved out of bars of soap, incense created by using perfume and cologne sample inserts torn from magazines and ignited using the battery from my am/fm radio, other improvised tools of the arte, and an indefatigable will, I succeeded in magickal work I am convinced would have taken me decades to master in less restrictive conditions, or in the free world, having day to day life to contend with. The loss of ones freedom is indeed a great castigation, yet in my case it became more of a gift than a curse. Having absolutely no responsibility for maintaining your own existence allows one a single minded focus in which one can devote every waking thought to furtherance of your magickal career. As a result of this, I have progressed far faster than I would have otherwise, having stood before spirits regarded as Angels, and, conversely, Demons and having learned from both, the latter more so than the former.
The translation of the Black Dragon was done during that period of time. It was undertaken because, despite the great lengths the chaplain went to in trying to find me a copy in English, none was to be found. One Thursday he came to my cell with the news that only a French edition could be had. This was a source of annoyance to me, since I am easily frustrated at anything being forbidden or hidden from me. I therefore ordered the French version, several versions in fact, and undertook to translate it. While working towards a translation of the Black Dragon, I noticed that in places its author refers to the Enchiridion, which subsequently led me, upon my release, since I was unable to locate even a French copy of this work while in prison, to translate the Enchiridion as well. The work you hold in your hand is the product of that obsessive desire to possess the unattainable.
Black dragon, the common name by which the French grimoire Le Véritable Dragon Noir: Les Forces infernales soumises à l’homme has become known, is a grimoire not at all unlike its contemporaries, in that it deals with evocation of the Infernal Forces for the purpose of forcing them to do the will of the magus. The opening Preface is in fact a commentary, apparently by the Magus who set the work down on paper. In it he expounds advice and guidance which echoes that taught in nearly all of the classical grimoires, and further explains the steps of the evocations that are not found in the corpus.
The First Part, immediately following the Preface, is entitled Conjuration of the Demons and provides methodology for evoking the four Kings, being those of the four cardinal directions. Following this are the Conjurations to be practiced each day of the week, along with the days and times appropriate for summoning each of the chiefs of the infernals and their respective seals. Interestingly enough, while in the process of their exhaustive editorial work to prepare Crossed Keys for print, Peter and Alkistis of Scarlet Imprint were able to trace the Black Dragon’s seals and figures further back, tying them to those of the Grimoire of Honorius as well as the Grand Grimoire. The latter association furthering my own assertion that The Black Dragon and The Red Dragon, a complete version of which has recently been released by Teitan Press, are in fact closely related. For this reason, and in light of the groundbreaking work done by Jake Stratton-Kent which is leading the magickal community to reconsider the origins and genesis of our arte, we have decided to issue this as a corrected edition, reproducing the illustrations as they should have been and replacing the corrupted versions. In consideration of those among our readers who prefer the work as it was presented in the ms from which I worked and without alteration, all of the seals and figures from the Bussière edition have been faithfully reproduced in the notes. Following the conjurations is a collection of what, at the time this manuscript appears to have been put to paper, we could classify as practical applications of the magick set forth in the tome. Examples thereof are exorcisms, incantations to protect (and to harm) animals, workings designed to prevent fatigue even when travelling long distances, creation of the sympathetic mirror, ridding a house of demons and so forth. It should be noted that while I am not one of the many who believe that in every word of a grimoire is hidden a secret, I encourage you to consider that workings which were designed for purposes such as this can be used creatively; that is to say, interpreted more fittingly for the era in which we exist. For example, the working to which is attributed the purpose of preventing the magus from becoming weary in walking; In modern times, the equivalent of becoming weary and fatigued from long travels on foot could be jet-lag. In the operation to stop a serpent from moving against you, consider that in ancient times the serpent was a term representative of the devil, and in modern times, a deceitful or treacherous man is often given the moniker serpent or snake.
Returning to the topic at hand: The Black Dragon. Only once prior has this grimoire ever been put into English, that being an edition produced by Robert Blanchard and the International Guild of Occult Sciences. That edition, should you desire a copy, is available very, very rarely on the secondhand market, changing hands for sums never less than $300. This, I swear, is a testament to the tendency of occultists to assign value to books based on rarity rather than quality, since that translation is absolutely, unequivocally horrible. This, if you are familiar with IGOS, will not surprise you. Nonetheless, flawed as it was, that edition was the only English version of The Black Dragon, until now.
Little is certain about the origins of Le Véritable Dragon Noir. Although it has been widely known in grimoire circles, and is mentioned in many scholarly works on medieval and Renaissance magick, it has been largely overlooked. Even the French original is rather obscure, with the best description I’ve been able to find being Grimoire de sorcellerie contenant une foule de recettes pratiques réunies par un sorcier: charmes et contre-charmes, secrets merveilleux, la Main de gloire, la Poule noire. (Grimoire of witchcraft, containing a collection of formulas gathered by a sorcerer: charms and counter-charms, marvelous secrets, the Hand of Glory, and the Black Hen). This edition is largely derived from the Bussière edition, pseudepigraphically ascribed to Honorius in the 15th century.
The Enchiridion of Pope Leo III
Of the Enchiridion, in stark contrast to the Black Dragon, much is known. We have, on this work, not only historical provenance of the ms, but also magickal lore and legend attributing it to Charlemagne. While the Enchiridion is not a grimoire in style of the former, it is indeed a book outlining magickal practices and the use of the biblical psalms for material and worldly gains. With regard to the legend and history of the Enchiridion, I defer here to A.E. Waite:
The legend of the Enchiridion is as follows. When Charlemagne was leaving Rome after his coronation by Leo III., that pontiff presented him with a memorial of the visit in the shape of a collection of prayers, to which wonderful virtues were attributed. Whosoever bore the little work upon his person with the respect due to Holy Scripture, who also recited it daily to the honour of God, would never be overcome by his enemies, would pass unscathed through all perils, and the Divine protection would abide with him to the end of his days. These things took place in the year 800. In the year 1523 the Enchiridion is supposed to have been printed at Rome for the first time. Thus broadly outlined, there is nothing in this legend to offend possibility or to raise very serious objection to the authorship. The reputed connection with occult science would indeed seem the chief presumption against it, because there never was a literature so founded in forgery as that of Magic, except the sister science of physical Alchemy. When we come, however, to examine the work at first hand, the case against it assumes a different aspect, and it is condemned out of its own mouth. While it is not a Ritual of Magic, it is also certainly not a simple collection of devotions designed to fortify the person making use of them against dangers of body and soul by the operation of Divine Grace; it is rather a collection of charms cast in the form of prayers, and is quite opposed in its spirit to the devotional spirit of the Church; furthermore, it is concerned with worldly advantages far more than with those of a spiritual kind. The work opens with a characteristic stultification in respect of its own claim, by pointing out that of all the sovereign princes of past ages there was none more fortunate than Charlemagne, and the source of his great prosperity is acknowledged by him in a letter of thanks addressed to Pope Leo, the original of which, it is affirmed, may still be seen in the Library of the Vatican, written with the monarch’s own hand. He states therein that since his reception of a little volume entitled Enchiridion, filled with special prayers and mysterious figures, sent by His Holiness as a precious gift, he has never ceased to be fortunate, and that of all things in the universe which are capable of harming man, not one has shewn any malignity against him, in gratitude for which he proposes to devote himself and all that is his to the service of his benefactor. The letter is in Latin; the monarch styles himself Carolus Magnus, which appears highly unlikely, and he terms the pontiff Summus Antistitum Antistes, but this is not in itself improbable, as the Papal claim to Episcopal supremacy was fully developed at the beginning of the ninth century.
It is needless to say that there is no such document preserved in the Vatican Library; furthermore, there are no letters of Charlemagne extant, and, despite the encouragement he gave to men of learning and the Academy mentioned by Alcuin, it is not at all certain that he could either read or write. Lastly, while it is quite true that his empire included Germany, as it did also Holland, Belgium, Switzerland and part of Italy, after his coronation it is much more probable that he would have styled himself Emperor of the Romans. There is, in fact, no colourable pretence of genuineness about the so-called autograph letter, or to be precise it betrays itself – as I have indeed suggested already. This fact being established, we may proceed to the consideration of the alleged date of publication – Rome, 1523. This edition is mentioned by Pierre Christian in his Histoire de la Magie, and he defends the authenticity of the Enchiridion on the ground, among others, that it passed unchallenged in the Eternal City during such a pontificate as that of Clement VII. A second edition is said to have been printed at Rome in 1606; between 1584 and 1633 it appeared four times at Lyons and once at Mayence. In 1660 it was published for the last time at Rome. Unfortunately for the purposes of this criticism, the examples of 1633 and 1660 have been alone available. The first claims to be nuperrime mendis omnibus purgatum, but it has been evidently in the hands of a Grimoire maker, and it appears to have been edited and extended in the Grimoire interest. This is certain, but it is impossible to say how much beyond the Seven Mysterious Orisons connected with the name of Pope Leo are to be found in the original, or whether the original was antedated. Outside these Orisons the modern accent of the work is unmistakable, and it is difficult to understand how any instructed person, much less a bibliophile like M. Christian, could have been deceived by it. It is certain, however, that when he approached the secret sciences, their substitutes and their memorials in literature, he depended more on his imagination than on his knowledge or research. The work itself, as already said, is simply a collection of religious charms, effectual against all the perils to which every sort and condition of men may be made subject on land, on water, from open and secret enemies, from the bites of wild and rabid beasts, from poisons, from fire, from tempests. While it thus ensures against evil, it gives happiness in domestic matters and in the enterprises which contributeto prosperity and to the pleasures of a contented life. The proviso is that ‘the instructions must be followed as accurately as human weakness will allow.
Fortunately they are more simple than the grimoires. When a copy of the book has been secured, it must be placed in a small bag of new leather, so that it may be kept clean. A vow must be made to carry it as far as practicable on one’s person, and to read with attentive devotion at least one page daily. If a specific danger be apprehended, a page suitable to its nature should be selected. Reading must be done upon the knees, with the face turned to the east: ‘so did Charlemagne invariably.’ Furthermore, works of piety must be performed in honour of the celestial genii whose benign influence it is desired to attract; alms also must be given to the poor, ‘as this is of all things most pleasing unto such spirits, for thereby we become their coadjutors and friends, the economy of the universe being committed to them by the Creator.’
Psalm magic can be found in Judaism, and became one of the staples of cunning craft. It continues to be utilised in Hoodoo, Vodou, by folk practitioners and in other lineages of magical Catholicism. We can even consider the Qabalistic Cross of the Golden Dawn as a form of psalm magic. Furthermore, many of the Psalms have their origins in Babylonian and Egyptian hymns and prayers of demonstrable magical intent. We also find psalm fragments embedded in the Greek Magical Papyri. Indeed, we find spells in the Enchiridion which are similar or identical to those in the Black Dragon, suggesting a continuity of European spellcraft expediently taking on, or discarding, a Christian guise.
Though it may appear alien to the modern mage, whose inclinations may favour the demonic, the owner of Le Véritable Dragon Noir would have no qualms following its instruction to use the Orisons from the Enchiridion. This is not dissimilar to the practice of dual observance in traditional craft.
With imagination and understanding the principles are still valid in application and these Keys are thus combined, crossed as indeed they are in the great Papal Seal.