The Sworn Book of Honorius / Joseph Peterson
(First published on Amazon):
Joseph H Peterson always produces high quality versions of classic grimoires so I was very pleased to be able to get hold of this, which I did with the aid of a gift voucher I manifested from the universe (there’s magic for you! 😉 ). Anyway, so here is my analysis of “The Sworn Book of Honorius” which I will hereinafter abbreviate as TSBOH:
TSBOH dates from the 14th century (i.e. 1300s). Now at that time in Europe there were only two types of men – and unfortunately they were men, not women – who could get an education and hence be able to read a grimoire: Religious (monks and priests); and the sons of Royalty and Nobility. Correspondingly, if you survey the various grimoires dating from the pre-Renaissance era, you will find that they fall into one of two types, which I term Sacerdotal and Royal – reflecting the assumptions that the grimoire-writer makes about his intended audience.
TSBOH is a -Sacerdotal- grimoire – it not only assumes that the operator has the willing assistance of a Christian priest, but that he will also lead a life identical to that of a cloistered monk and be familiar with the daily office as a man in monastic orders would be. (Another example of a Sacerdotal grimoire would be the Heptameron of Peter Abano – but TSBOH is *far* more intense in the preparation it prescribes, and far more ambitious in what it sets out to achieve). Examples of what I would term “Royal” grimoires would include the Keys of Solomon both Lesser and Greater, which do not seem to require such a dependence on priests, but do promise to confer magical powers especially useful to princes and noblemen.
Like other pre-renaissance grimoires such as the Heptameron and Greater Key of Solomon, TSBOH assumes that the spirits manifest to visible appearance in the air before the circle, without the aid of a particular skrying medium.
The actual structure of TSBOH is as follows: first, the Operator should consecrate the “Seal of God” (actually the prototype of the Sigillum Dei Aemeth) and complete a forty-day operation to attain the Beatific Vision. In this sense it is akin to a shortened version of Abramelin, except that the required prayers are more sophisticated. This being achieved, the Operator can then progress on to an elaborate series of conjurations of Planetary and Elemental Spirits of both an Angelic and Demonic nature – for achieving more conventional “low-magic” goals.
Regarding Peterson’s edition itself, this contains both the Latin and English editions (newly translated) as well as the relevant diagrams, and a scholarly introduction which makes the point that many of the barbarous words of evocation which crop up in later well-known grimoires come from Byzantine sources, which I personally find fascinating. Peterson’s text does a good job of making clear that TSBOH directly inspired several Solomonic grimoires such as the Greater Key and multiple parts of the Lesser Key (Goetia, Ars Notoria) as well.
IMHO, there are two main difficulties to turning TSBOH into a working grimoire for the modern grimoire magician. Firstly, the number and complexity of the various prayers and invocations, and their need to be compiled and collated before use (but – thanks to Peterson’s edition – at least this can now be done!). Secondly and more unfortunately is the need for a monastic lifestyle, and more specifically a Christian monastic lifestyle – the operations in TSBOH are closely connected with the theology of the Christian religion to separate them.