Clavicula Salomonis
The Key of Solomon the King

One of the most famous grimoires in existence. Its connection to Solomon is spurious; Solomon, like the Roman poet Vergil, was considered a great magician in medieval times, and it is no wonder that his name would be attached to this grimoire (as well as that other well-known work, the Lemegeton).

It has nothing to do with druids, however.

Standard ceremonial magic. Prayers and conjurations, magical seals, and an assortment of spells. The spells in question are essentially what one would expect to find in a medieval grimoire. In the 1888 edition, S.L. Magregor Mathers divides this into two books. The first deals with the above-mentioned spells, seals, etc.:

Of the Experiment Concerning Things Stolen, And How It Should Be Performed
Of the Experiment of Invisibility, And How It Should Be Performed
How To Make the Magic Carpet Proper For Interrogating the Intelligences
How To Render Thyself Master of A Treasure Possessed By the Spirits

In Book Two, we are given an introduction to basic ceremonial magic: the various magical tools and instruments; proper garments; preparing virgin parchment for spells; preparing specific incense; and so on. More than any other grimoire, this text is the basic handbook for a beginner magician. Provided, of course, that you're living in the late Middle Ages.

In 1888, S.L. Magregor Mathers translated the text from "Ancient Mss. In The British Museum." The most ancient manuscript only goes back to 1572, but Mathers is known for his hyperbole. This is still the standard edition, despite Arthur Edward Waite's complaint that Mathers excluded a good deal of the original texts:

The Key of Solomon can scarcely be judged accurately in the light of its English version, for the translator, preternaturally regarding it as a highly honourable memorial of lawful magic, has excised as much as possible the Goëtic portions, on the ground that they are interpolations, which is of course arbitrary." --Book of Ceremonial Magic p.58

What Mathers excized were four love spells and a section on "destroying your enemies." While this hardly makes for a critical edition, one can possibly see why Mathers, who wanted magic to be seen as serious, would decide to leave out something considered as "low magic" as love spells and curses.

Moreover, Mathers for some reason added material not found in any edition of the Key, taking some material from Lansdowne MS 1203, which while saying it is the Key, does not contain any material found in the other versions of the Key.

Mathers' edition can be found on the net in two places: at Sacred Texts (, and at the Esoteric Archives ( It is also available in a paperback edition from Samuel Weiser

While not a definitive list--this was a very popular book--it does collect some of the more important manuscripts which contain the "Clavicula."

British Library, Sloane MS 3847. dated 1572. "The Clavicle of Solomon, revealed by Ptolomy the Grecian"

BL MS Addl. 10862, 17th century (despite MM's claims of it being 16th century). Latin, descriptions of pentacles in Italian.

BL MS Addl. 36,674. mid- to late-16th century. English. "Here begynneth the booke of Kynge Solomon called the Kay of Knowledge," to which is added "Clavicula Salomonis. Extat Latine: et legi."

British Library, Sloane MS 3645. Based on Addl. 36674.

Lansdowne MS 1202

Kings MS 288

Harley MS 3981

British Library, Sloane MS 3091

Sloane 1307 is in Italian

British Library, Harleian MS. 5596. Fifteenth century. Greek. may be a prototype of the later Clavicle. Also contains an incomplete version of The Testament of Solomon.

British Library Sloane MS. 2383. 17th century. Latin. Titled Clavis libri secretorum. Only part of the second book of Clavicula Salomonis is represented

Bodleian Library, Aubrey MS. 24. Dated 1674. Latin. Titled Zecorbeni sive Claviculae Salomonis libri IV in quibus I De Praeparementis, II De Experimentis, III De Pentaculis, IV De Artibus. Written by John Aubrey

Bodleian Library Michael MS. 276. 62 folios. Italian. The title reads Clavicolo di Salomone Re d'Israel figlio de David. Bound with Hebrew MS. Prayers and conjurations are in Latin.

British Library Oriental MS. 6360. 17th or 18th century. Hebrew. "Sepher Maphteah Shelomoh (Book of the Key of Solomon)"

British Library Oriental MS. 14759. Continuation of Or.6360.

Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana MS. 12. 18th century. Hebrew.

Lansdowne MS 1203. "Les Véritables Clavicules De Salomon, Traduites de l'Hebreux en langue Latine Par le Rabin Abognazar" Not a part of the Clavicale, but added by Mathers to his edition.

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