In this article:
- The Lesser Key of Solomon is a book of demons and how to summon them as well as other spells and forms of magic.
- This compilation of occult magic has had a major impact on the way that demons are viewed in the modern world and has appeared numerous times throughout pop culture.
- Some of the biggest games and films of the past ten years have incorporated the names of demons from this book such as in Hereditary (2018) and Genshin Impact.
If you’ve seen the 2018 psychological horror film Hereditary — one of the best horror movies of the last decade and a work of absolute genius by writer/director Ari Aster — then you’re probably already familiar with the demon-king Paimon.
In the film, Paimon is the demon responsible for the possession of Charlie and Peter and all of the horrific things that happen to the family throughout the duration of the film. However, Paimon is not simply a creation of Ari Aster’s imagination, this demon actually comes from a real (and very mysterious) book of demonology known as The Lesser Key of Solomon.
Parts of this mysterious grimoire come from the research of occultists Cornelius Agrippa and Johannes Trithemisus during the late 16th century and early 17th century, and other parts have been compiled over the years.
The Lesser Key of Solomon is a book of demons and how to summon them as well as other spells and forms of magic. This compilation of occult magic has had a major impact on the way that demons are viewed in the modern world and has appeared numerous times throughout pop culture.
For instance, the 2020 role-playing game Genshin Impact also features a character named Paimon as well as several other characters who are thought to be inspired by The Lesser Key of Solomon.
Where Did the Lesser Key of Solomon Come From?
The Lesser Key of Solomon is generally attributed to King Solomon, who was an extremely wise and wealthy monarch of Israel and the son of David (the one who killed Goliath), according to the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament.
He is said to have ruled over Israel from 970 to 931 BCE; however, it’s impossible to pin down the exact dates. Israel isn’t the only thing he’s said to have ruled over, though. In fact, there are many stories from a variety of texts that refer to Solomon controlling armies of demons (as well as possessing other supernatural abilities like controlling the wind).
The spells in The Lesser Key of Solomon are thought to be derived originally from the ancient practices of King Solomon, the Jewish Kabbalah (a sect of Jewish mystics), and Arab alchemists.
Over the years, though, it is believed that certain ancient Greek and Roman occultists added their own knowledge to the tradition. And, finally, the works in The Lesser Key of Solomon were used and edited by the magicians of the Renaissance.
The men responsible for bringing together The Lesser Key of Solomon and publishing it in 1904 were S. L. MacGregor Mathers and Aleister Crowley, two English occultists who spent their lives delving into the world of the occult and demonology. According to the writings of Aleister Crowley, S. L. MacGregor Mathers (Crowley’s mentor and, eventually, his enemy) used to play chess against pagan gods who he summoned.
Both of these men were involved in the compilation of The Lesser Key of Solomon and are largely responsible for the resurrection of occult practices, satanism, and witchcraft at the start of the 20th century.
Subsequent Editions of the Lesser Key of Solomon
After The Lesser Key of Solomon was first transcribed into English, it saw many subsequent editions, some of which included unique spells and passages not included in other editions. However, as it’s generally agreed upon today, The Lesser Key of Solomon (which is also known as Lemegeton Clavicula Salomonis or simply Lemegeton) consists of five different books.
The first book, the Ars Goetia, is most well-known for its list of 72 demons and instructions for summoning them. Some of the most prominent demons listed in this text are:
- King Bael, the hoarsely-voiced king who can give humans the power of invisibility and often appears as a man, a cat, a frog, or some combination of the three
- King Paimon, a demon-king who has can gift all knowledge of science and nature and appears as a man riding an Arabian camel who is preceded by the loud music of trumpets
- President Buer, a commander of legions of demons who appears when the Sun is in Sagittarius and is described as having the head a lion surrounded by five goat legs, allowing him to walk in any direction
- Duke Astaroth, a member of the first hierarchy of Hell with Beelzebub and Lucifer who appears as a foul angel riding an infernal dragon and holding a viper in his right hand
- Marquis Amon, the demon of life and reproduction who appears either as a fire-breathing wolf with the tail of a serpent or as a man with the head of a raven and the teeth of a wolf
- Count Ipos, the knower of all things past, present, and future who is commonly depicted with the body of an angel, the head of a lion, the tail of a hare, and the feet of a goose
- Count Bifrons, a demon who appears as a monster before adopting a more human-like form and is also known for moving bodies into different graves and lighting candles over graves
- President Ose, a ruler of three legions of demons who can bring insanity to any person that the conjurer wishes and is depicted as a leopard that changes into a man after a while
These are just a few of the 72 demons listed in the Ars Goetia, but the rest of them each have their own typical forms and domains. This book also lists instructions for summoning each of these demons and the powers that they can bestow upon you if you’re able to successfully conjure them. However, the Ars Goetia also includes warnings about the ill fates that can befall you if you get tricked by one of these demons. So, be careful what you wish for.
The second book of The Lesser Key of Solomon is the Ars Theurgia Goetia, which also speaks of certain demons and is concerned primarily with tying certain spirits to the directions of east, west, north, and south.
The third book is the Ars Paulina, which is mostly concerned with relating certain spirits to certain times and is itself divided into two books. The first book speaks of the 24 angels that are aligned with the 24 hours of the day. The second book speaks of the 360 spirits that align with the 360 degrees of the zodiac.
The fourth book is the Ars Almadel, which gives specific instructions to magicians on how to create a wax tablet to contact angels through the practice of scrying, which essentially involves reading symbols in the wax.
The fifth book is the Ars Notoria, the oldest portion of The Lesser Key of Solomon, which can supposedly help magicians gain photographic memory and instantaneous learning abilities.
Does the Lesser Key of Solomon Actually Work?
Are demons going to start flying around your room if you recite a few verses in The Lesser Key of Solomon? Well, you can grab a copy online and give it a try… if you have the courage. Some have claimed that they’ve used it successfully while probably many more have claimed that the spells it contains are mere nonsense. Really, there’s only one way to find out.