“I pray thee, O king. Listen to what has befallen all that thy child hath. After we are all released from our work on the Temple of God, after sunset, when I lie down to rest, one of the evil demons comes and takes away from me one half of my pay and one half of my food. Then he also takes hold of my right hand and sucks my thumb. And lo, my soul is oppressed, and so my body waxes thinner every day.” (Testament of Solomon, v4)
My Brethren, one tenant of the Masonic system is the constant reflection of the self. We must re-evaluate who we are morally as well as psychologically. It is this constant progression of self understanding that makes us face our archetypal shadow and conquer the negative aspects of the self. This is best personified by the Archetype of Wisdom in the Masonic system, King Solomon. King Solomon is interesting because his archetypal characteristics are found throughout Mediterranean cultures. According to the Old Testament King Solomon was charged to build the Temple of Solomon and was known as the wisest of all men. In the Islamic tradition Solomon is regarded as a prophet and representative of Allah. But there is a hidden side of King Solomon, a side that has been repressed from the western mythos, just as we hide the darker aspects of ourselves.
In the Christian tradition there is a separate myth that recounts Solomon not only as a wise King, but a very powerful Ceremonial Magician. This tradition is recounted in the 15th century Grimoire the Greater and Lesser Keys of Solomon, and the Testament of Solomon, a Christian text dating to around the 1st and 5th centuries CE. Although the author of these obscure texts is unknown, its legend holds that it was the secret firsthand account of Solomon himself. Solomon’s Testament deals with a variety of astrological and magical themes that even deal with acting as a bridge between Greek Mythology and Christian Theology. The book deals with vast legions of demons, summoning spirits, and magick rings.
The legend begins with a young man who is favored by King Solomon, one day he is attacked by a demon by name of Ornias who used his demonic powers to suck the vitality and life from the Youth’s spirit. Upon hearing this news Solomon summons the archangel Michael through the magickal practice. According to the Lesser Key of Solomon this magickal practice was known as the Almadel, which is how Solomon was said to have received wisdom from the angels. Michael arrives to the troubled King and entrusts him with a magick ring bearing the six pointed star, or seal of Solomon, upon it. With this ring Solomon gained the power to summon demons and sprits using his will to control them and command them to complete tasks.
Solomon then took control over Ornias who then infiltrated the demonic Prince Beelzebul granting Solomon power over the legion of demons. According to the lesser Key of Solmon of the Ars Goetia, there are 72 demons that are paralleled to the fallen angels described in the Book of Enoch who rebelled against God because they lusted after the daughters of man. It is important to note that these fallen angels also first brought sorcery and the magickal arts to the material realm. Beelzebul reveals how he was once a high ranking angel before the fall. It was the four archangels Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and Uriel that descended down with their 72 angels of the Almadel and banished the rebellious demons unto the four watchtowers of the universe.
With King Solomon in full command of the 72 demons he commands them to aid in the construction of the Temple of Solomon. This is where the legend of the Goetia and the Masonic system begin to meet. The Goetia’s connections can be found in various places throughout the Masonic system, but often hidden so that the true initiate sees not the Adept’s design. The Angelic names bore on the cross of the older versions of the 29th degree Knight of St. Andrew are a prime example. There is nowhere else in Kabbalistic or Magickal lore are these Angelic names referred to, except the Greater Key of Solomon as the last pentacle of the Sun. But these angels are referred to in Phoenician legend, so it seems to understand the importance of the Testament of Solomon we must look at it from the theological perspective of the time. This book acts as a way to reinterpret Pagan Gods of various cultures and rework them into the roles of demons. I believe King Solomon was chosen by Christians as the Master Magician because of his close association with the worship of Pagan gods to please his many foreign wives.
According too Talmudic texts and the Book of Tolbit King Solomon soon was placed face to face with the king of demons Asmodeus. Asmodeus is known for tricking King Solomon into gaining his ring of power that he then cast to the sea where it was swallowed by a fish. This allowed the legions of demons under King Solomon’s power to rise up against the king. Asmodeus then cast the King 400 miles outside Jerusalem. Solomon then lived as a beggar wandering from city to city, working in kitchens and doing hard labor. Ancient Rabbis claim this was a divine punishment by God for Solomon worshiping foreign deities. Years later he was walking in a market and bought a fish for his supper, the same fish that held the Magick ring in his belly. King Solomon then returns to Jerusalem to expel Asmodeus and his demonic rule. Asmodeus is said to be thwarted by the Archangel Raphael who binds him. According to a tale found in the 1001 Arabian Nights King Solomon is known as a master of the Djinn, and captures all the Djinn or demons into a brass vessel and seals it with a magickal symbol and casts the vessel out to the sea trapping the Djinn whom he first summoned to build his temple. This legend is the bassis for the Greater and Lesser Keys of Solomon.
The Lesser Key of Solomon, or the Goetia, is a medieval magickal text that claims to give the techniques and materials needed to embark on the mystical path of Solomon. It gives directions for casting magick circles, and invoking demons and dark Djinn into the consciousness of the magician. Here like Solomon the magician must unleash the demon from the brass vessel and symbolically slay the demon with a magical sword. Like the Djinn trapped in the magick lamp, the demon may also grant the wishes and desires of the magician, but it is the test of fortitude for the magician to resist these temptations and expel the demon from his mind.
“The spirits of the Goetia are portions of the human brain. Their seals therefore represent methods of stimulating or regulating those particular spots (though the eye).” (Aleister Crowley, The Initiated Interpretation of Ceremonial Magic in the Goetia.)
If we as masons want to look at this in a philosophical sense we are all seeking to be the wise King Solomon. We must unlock the brass vessel of our own unconscious mind releasing all the aspects of ourselves we care not to let out. Each demon can be seen as an aspect of our personality that we keep hidden from the world. It is the goal of the magician with the aid of angels and magickal weapons to face the dark aspects of him and symbolically slay and expel those forces from our own spiritual nature, thus purifying him. This medieval system of what some would consider “black magick” is simply a way to reflect upon the aspects of our own psyche. If we as individuals wish to gain the wisdom of the archetypal king, we should face the shadow of ourselves and the demons that well in the void of our own nightmares.
Before one sincerely attempts to evoke these demons, one should first spend some time invoking the 72 counterpart angels of the Almadel. The Almadel is a very enlightening experience and puts the magician in touch with the aspects of virtue within the psyche of the individual. This should be required for two reasons, one: one should be in touch with their inner strength before they face the demons, and two: the angels of the Almadel have direct control over the demons of the brass vessel. The Almadel is a system of scrying into a crystal ball over a altar made of wax upon which are engraved the Holy names of God. Remember that invocation is to call down a power within your spirit and mind, so you invoke angels to bring them closer. The Magician will evoke demons, to to bring from within ones self into manifestation.
After one has made meaningful contact with his own inner angelic forces, he is now mentally and spiritually prepared to venture into the darkness of his own being. This system of High Magick should only be attempted by those who have magickal training, or are learned practitioners of ceremonial magick. This system to the unprepared is VERY DANGEROUS, and can be disastrous for those who approach the subject manner with a light heart or contempt in the mind. A short exert from the Lesser Key of Solomon will show the level of seriousness this system deserves.
“Curse you and deprive you from all your offices and places of joy and place and do bind thee in the depths of the bottomless pit, there to remain until the day of judgment; I say into the lake of fire and brimstone… let all the company of heaven curse thee… let the hosts of heaven curse thee, I curse thee into fire unquenchable, and torments unspeakable as thy name and seal is contained in this box, chained and bound up and shall be choked in sulphurus and stinking substance and burnt in this material fire… which is prepared for thee damned and cursed spirits and there to remain until the day of doom and never more remembered of before the face of God which shall come to judge the dead and the world by fire.” (Lesser Key of Solomon, Book 1: Ars Goetia)
The Goetic demons require quite an elaborate array of magical implements such as a magic robe, wand, sword, circle, ring, brass vessel containing the 72 sigils of demons, black mirror within the magick triangle, and a very good memory. These evocations are quite lengthy and the magickal ritual can last quite awhile, especially when in a hypnotic trance which is required.
For those of you who simply wish to greet your shadow self and do some soul searching, I recommend you find a mirror and paint it with up to 7 layers of black paint, light some candles in a darkened room as gaze into the mirror without evoking the Goetic demons. This is a form of meditation similar to Trataka yoga techniques and can be very beneficial for self-discovery, or to just scare yourself the way kids have been doing while playing “Bloody Mary” for years.
For those of you inspired to follow in steps of the archetypal King Solomon, to gain insight of the self or wisdom for above, with a sincere nature this system can be very beneficial and enlightening, even life changing. But for those of you who dabble, or foolishly rush into such things and unleash the spirits of the brass vessel Solomon trapped so long ago… well… like the ancient Djinn say… be careful what you wish for.
by Midnight Freemason
Bro. James E. Frey 32°
James E Frey, 32° is a Past Sovereign Prince and current librarian of Valley of Danville AASR. Founder of the R.E.B.I.S Research Society he sits on two Blue Lodge Education committees as well as a guest lecturer on Occultism and Esoteric studies in masonry. He is also a Member of the Oak Lawn York Rite, Medinah Shriners, and Golden Dawn Collegium Spiritu Sancti. He also works as a counselor with emotionally and behaviorally challenged children.