The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, By Joseph Peterson
Reviewed by Jason Miller (Inominandum)
For the last several years the “next big thing” in occultism has been what’s Old. Perhaps as a counter balance to the excesses of Chaos magick and wild eclecticism, scholars have been digging back into the past. Back before the Neo-Pagan movement, Crowley and the Golden Dawn changed how we viewed magick in the twentieth century.
One of the main authors at the heart of the “Old System Magic” movement is Joseph Peterson. His edition of the Lesser Key of Solomon immediately put to shame all editions that came before it. His publication of the John Dee’s Five Books of Mystery instantly put the origins of Enochian magick into a clearer light. Now he has turned his considerable talents to a classic text that has been a favorite of Hexmeisters, Hoodoo’s, Santero’s, and Witches everywhere: “The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses.”
I first ran across this tome as a teenager in a conjure shop in Lakewood NJ. It was a cheap paperback with nearly unreadable Hebrew seals, but it captured the imagination. Unlike the Golden Dawn influenced magick I had been studying, most of the rituals in this book required little more than a seal and a prayer. You could even purchase sheets of “parchment” with the seals printed on them in red ink. It was not only magick, it was convenient!
As I grew older I learned more about the origin of the book, how it was actually selections from the Weimar Bible and had made its way from Germany into European Cunning craft, African American Conjure, and Dutch Pow-wow. But all the available publications of it were always cheap and shoddy. I wished that someone would give it the same attention that other magickal grammars had received. This year I got my wish.
This edition, from Ibis Press, the same people that put out the new transition of Abramelin, is drastic improvement over any edition previously available in English. Its 338 pages, hardcover, well indexed, and is the result of consulting not just one, but several of the early manuscripts. Best all, the seals are completely legible. The seals of the Seven Great Princes are even rendered properly in red and black.
As with other recently published works of old Grimoires like The Goetia of Doctor Rudd, some of the greatest parts of the book are in the appendixes. The standard appendixes of Psalms and such that have traditionally appeared with the book are all here but there is also a wealth of documentation that never appeared in any previous edition. Appendix seven is a side by side comparison of incantations from the 6th book of Moses with those from the Versus Jesuitarum Libellus. Appendix eight gives us excepts from Sefer Razielis that much of the 6th and 7th is based upon on. Appendix 9 gives us Johann Faust’s Fourfold Harrowing of Hell, a Grimoire detailing the spirits of the four elements.
The Sixth and Seventh books of Moses have sometimes gotten a bad name in Ceremonial Magick circles not only because of their association with folk magick, but because of the cheap and unimpressive additions that it has been restricted to. As if the fact that it was a paperback for under $10 affected the magick inside of it. It is my hope that modern ceremonialists, as well as folk practitioners, will pick up this new edition and realize that the separation between “high” and “low” magick is largely a false one. There is a reason after all that the classic Grimoires like the Clavicula Solomonis and Abramelin, and even more recent grammars like Barrett’s Magus have sections on “natural magick.
Scholarly, yet readable and in a quality printing, this edition is everything that you could want in a new translation of this work.