wondrous root. Instructions for the making of similar rings are contained in grimoires published under Solomon's name, which circulate even today. The Quran takes up the story, in Sura xxi, 81, 82:
"And to Solomon we taught the use of blowing winds which moved with his command towards the land on which we had placed our blessings .. . and we subjugated to him some of the evil ones who dived for him and did other things besides." One of his wives was a daughter of Pharaoh, king of the Land of Magic, and commentators have held that it was through her that secrets were disclosed to the King of Israel.
The lapwing or hoopoe is also much mentioned as a bird used by Solomon as a messenger; and contemporary Arabian manuscripts carry instructions for the use of this bird's bones and 'nest-stone' identical with those found in grimoires published in the Middle Ages, in Solomon's name.
I have come across an old reference to an obscure passage in the Bible, which may link with the hoopoe.
In I Kings ii, 22, we are told that 'Hadad' urged Pharaoh to send him away, that 'I might go to mine own country'. Arab commentators urge that this Hadad is the same as the magical bird Hudud, referred to in the Quran as being a messenger of Solomon (not a man at all), who brought news of the Queen of Sheba (28).
However that may be, there are several references to the magical powers of Solomon in the Quran. "And most surely we gave David and Solomon knowledge . . . and Solomon became David's heir and said 'O ye men! We have been taught the expression of the birds and we have been given of all things. Most surely this is a clear distinction.' And the armies of the Jinns and the civilized ones and birds were
Secret Seal of Solomon, from the Lemegeton
Secret Seal of Solomon, from the Lemegeton assembled for Solomon, and they were paraded. Until they came to the valley of the Ants. Said one of the ants: 'O ye of the Ants! Go into your dwellings, and let not Solomon crush you unknowingly.' " (29)
This passage, read in the original Arabic, shows that Solomon is credited with knowing the language of birds, which is another widely held idea. The verse goes on to say that Solomon heard what the ant referred to above said, and laughed, thus showing his ability to hear and understand what ants were supposed to be saying.
Solomonic magic links also with certain very important aspects of ritual observance common to almost every magical system. Most people are familiar with the Seal of Solomon—the figure with which he was able to attract, bind and seal spirits. It was by means of this seal that the Genie in the Arabian Nights story was confined to a botde for tens of thousands of years. There has been some confusion of the five-pointed Star (seal) of Solomon with the six-pointed Star or Shield of David—also considered to be a powerful talisman against evil, and used in much the same way as the Cross was later employed for protection. Both forms of the Star are used in various magical rituals of Arab and Jewish origin.
The ancient Egyptian theory of the 'Most Great Name of God'— a Word of Power—which is so potent that it cannot be spoken or even thought—is found in Solomonic magic. In fact, some writers claim that a great part of the king's powers were derived from a ring inscribed with the Most Great Name. Both Arab and Jewish writers concur in this, the former adding that the ring was made of brass and iron, joined together.
The Testament of Solomon (30), ascribed to him, but impossible of proof as to its authorship, tells that he appealed to the angel Michael for help to overcome demons. The angel presented him with a magical ring, engraved with a seal. Thus armed, he could conjure all evil spirits, and obtain from them valuable information. This was accomplished by 'binding' the demon with magical spells and compelling it to summon another, who brought a fellow—and so on—until the whole infernal multitude was present. Solomon was then able to ask each demon individually his or her name, sign and the name in which it was to be summoned. This information forms the bulk of the Kej of Solomon, ascribed to him: a work which has appeared and reappeared in many languages, throughout the centuries. It is perhaps the best known grimoire.
This Key is called in Hebrew the Mafteah Sbelomoh, while Latin versions are generally entitled Claviculae Salomonis. The work is divided into two parts, and embraces invocation, incantation and the making and use of various kinds of pentacles.
An Arabic work on magic, entitled Kitab al-Uhud, is probably the same as the Book of Asmodeus, which is mentioned in the Jewish cabbalistic Zohar as having been given to King Solomon by the spirit Asmodeus, and contained formulae for the subordination of demons (j i). It forms a link with the Key of Solomon, and has had a considerable influence upon magical treatises of the Middle East.
A very large number of writings claimed to be by Solomon are either extant or mentioned in other magical works. Important among these is The Divine Work, said to have been dictated by angels, a book of medicine and alchemy, which greatly influenced Arab studies of the Hermetic art. Other treatises, which have been lost, dealt with various more philosophical subjects. Another, which gave rise to the title Almadel, used in several magical books, is the Hebrew Sefer ha-Almadil, about the magic circle, that indispensable figure within which all magicians must take refuge against the malice of spirits. The making of the circle, its location, and the signs to be written within its concentric rings, form a significant part of Solomonic magic, and, indeed, of most of the world's sorcery and witchcraft rites. It is thought that the name of the book may derive from the Arabic Al Matidal—'The Circle'. It is interesting to note that some of the signs which are used in Solomonic magic—whether in circles or seals—bear a more than superficial resemblance to similar signs used in Chinese magic and astrology. One of the most striking samples of this similarity is to be seen in the symbolism used in marking constellations and stars in both the Jewish and Chinese systems. I am not aware that this fart has been observed or pointed out before.
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