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Doktor Faust

Recently, Dan Harms posted about the Bavarian State Library having Faust’s Magia Naturalis et Innaturalis online as digital scans. He posts the steps to navigate to the images via the online catalog, which always seem like they are purposely obtuse to thwart would-be researchers like myself that are not yet privy to their arcane secrets. There is an option to download PDF versions of the text, provided they are for personal use, which of course I did. Note that this appears to be a 1849 German edition based on the original 1505 publication, so it is not an original first edition copy.

Faust is of course the infamous figure said to have sold his soul to the devil – Mephistopholes, to be specific – in pursuit of knowledge, whose life became the source of much folklore and subsequent artistic treatments. Not reading German at all, beyond a few words here and there, it was fairly quick reading to scan for anything I might recognize. It probably took me two to three hours, which in and of itself made me stop to consider exactly how I was choosing to spend my time. However, it was somewhat fruitful in that it touched on a few tangents with which I have been interested as of late.

Firstly, there is a great amount of detail around demonology, which should not be surprising given the popular conception of Faust as having sold his soul. Page 26 of the first book contains a listing of the four demon kings of the cardinal directions (or “winds”), given as Urieus [sic: typo or mistranscription of Uriens], Paymon, Egyn, and Amaymon. These of course match those given in The Offices of Spirits (whose source is ultimately Folger MS V.b.26), as well as in Livre de Espirits (Trinity MS O.8.29), and other manuscripts. They are given differently in Goetia, save for Amaymon. Page 28 also makes note of the three great infernals, Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Satan, in the same order as Offices and many other manuscripts, as well as Astaroth and Beherit (Berith).

Quite interesting was the discovery of a version of the hexagonal Seal of Solomon in the Book V (p. 18), which is dedicated to sigils, that is the same variant as found in Heptameron (also known asThe Magical Elements) by Abano. There is also a variant of the Sigillum Dei (Book V, p. 100), that mirrors some of the earlier traditional variants of that seal, such as the one given in The Sworn Book of Honorius. (In other words, not John Dee’s version of the seal.)

I have not yet begun to dig much deeper, but thought I would at least continue to pass the information along, so if you are interested, you can begin your own foraging…

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