Vinculum Confusium

So, here I am on another goose chase. In researching some of the conjurations of Goetia, I have considered the well-known comparison between those verses in English and the Latin conjurations given in de Abano’s Heptameron. I then read Frank Klaasen’s excellent book Transformations of Magic: Illicit Learned Magic in the Later Middle Ages and Renaissance at the recommendation of Dan Harms, whose expectations were right on: it’s a fantastic read. In it, Klaassen mentions the presence of a “Vinculum Spirituum” in Additional MS 110, which I happen to have, but had never caught the presence of a section by that name. It’s a manuscript I had been keen to get my eyes on, since it’s listed in sequence along with a manuscript of Solomonic pentagrams and a certain Offices of Spirits1) in Trithemius’ catalog of necromantic works, Antipalus Maleficiorum. These three manuscripts, listed in sequence, would seem to form the core of what has now become Goetia, but it’s not sure what’s become of them, nor can I say with certainty that they were actually what became Goetia.

I digress…

Going through Additional MS 110, I did indeed find fragments of an “Incipit Primus Vinculum Spirituum”, as well as a full “Incipit Secundus…” In haste, and through no small amount of turbulence (as I happened to be on a plane at the time), I transcribed the bulk of each and was only too happy to touch down at Boston/Logan. Something was bothering me, though… it was familiar. Too familiar, it turns out. Picking up a copy of Heptameron on my return home, I flipped to the conjurations, and there it was: the text that was in Heptameron was nearly the same text listed in Additional MS 110 under the title Vinculum Spirituum. So, this leaves a few possibilities, none of which I can even begin to speculate about – but of course, I will anyway.

It is possible that Heptameron was the source of the material in Additional MS 110, and that the author put the conjurations down as a general “spirit’s chain” – which is the meaning of “vinculum spirituum”, incidentally – and did not mean the manuscript by that name. I am not sure I buy that, but it could have happened. Secondly, it is possible that the author did mean the actual Vinculum Spirituum, and was purposely copying that text into what became Additional MS 110. I can more easily buy that, and not just because I want it to be so. The reason for this is that the incipit is different. Heptameron notes the second spirit’s chain as simply “An Exorcism of the Spirits of the Air”2). While this is the English version of the title, and may have been a redaction, the sense is more generic.

Here is the text from Vinculum Spirituum Primum (Additional MS 110:):

Per potentissimum et corroboratum nomen dei El forte et admirabile ego impero tibi exorcizo et conjuro te spirituum presentis thesauri custodem cuiuscunque fueris ordinis, potestatis, generis aut virtutis, per eum qui dixit, fiat, et facta sunt…

And now as given in Heptameron:

Nos facti ad imaginem Dei, & ejus facti voluntate, per potentissimum et corroboratum nomen Dei, El, forte et admirabile vos exorcizamus [N] & imperimus per eum qui dixit & factum est…

The remainder of both texts goes on to list a number of Biblical patriarchs in concert with Divine names used to great effect, with no small parallel to the Second Conjuration of Goetia. So, was that conjuration based on Heptameron, on Vinculum Spirituum, or is the stemma more complex? (Yes, most likely.) It is possible that the conjurations in Heptameron and Goetia share a common ancestor in Vinculum Spirituum as a separate and self-contained work, or that there is a pre-existing lineage from Heptameron to Vinculum Spirituum, or vice versa, that somehow led to the conjurations of Goetia. At this point, I am really not sure and have to spend more time comparing them all. I think there are significant differences in each worth noting.

And people wonder why I drink…

There are actually two “Offices of Spirits” listed in the work, apparently different treatises of similar nature. Of course, I published a later manuscript of one of them not long ago, available through Teitan Press.
I reference here the Robert Turner translation (mostly) into English as published by Ouroboros Press.

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