I recently had a quick read through of Julio Cesar Ody’s new book on the subject of Solomonic spirit evocation, ‘Magister Officiorum: The Ceremony of Solomonic Magic’ just published by Scarlet Imprint, and I thought I would share some initial, cursory thoughts here.
This is a deceptively slim volume, admirably concise yet nonetheless richly evocative (see what I did there). Its pages breathe lived experience (Julio is a seasoned Solomonic magician and initiate of Brazilian, Haitian, and Jamaican magical traditions) and Julio engages with his readers in an honest, matter-of-fact, unblinking fashion. He demonstrates deep and rigorous familiarity with traditional procedures and materials, without putting text before or above practical experimentation and experience. His text machetes a clear, walkable track through the jungle of existing, often contradictory and confusing interpretation and claims, offering unusually clear and practical insight in a field so often given to obfuscation and compensatory embellishment. While Julio’s respect for the powers and mysteries at the heart of the tradition is clear, he is never coy, precious or gratuitously grandiose when it comes to discussing ‘secret’ knowledge.
Julio makes clearer than any treatment I have hitherto seen the specific quality of the kinds of relationships that are at the heart of this tradition. His description of the form and function of procedures relating to the commanding, taming, binding, and making of pacts with these hot, unruly spirits is extremely lucid and is very parallel in some ways with Tibetan tantric orientations as well. One of the most remarkable features of the book is the extent to which Julio acknowledges how this is a system that is meant to evolve as ritualists themselves do through increased contact with spirits. Julio’s central aim is to show readers how they can use miscellaneous methods scattered throughout Solomonic manuscripts to successfully forge specific spiritual relationships through which ways forward in and through the system can become increasingly self-evident and personalized over time, via direct revelation. No-nonsense expertise but also hard-won humility runs throughout the book. As Julio has said to me, this is “a rather gnarly path which not many people will put to use, which is maybe a good thing.” As such, I appreciate how in his book Julio makes the demands and risks of this practice clear, without alienating his readers or using his practical reports as an excuse to lord his authority. Many authors in the field of writing on Solomonic magic have taken the “I have rediscovered the missing key to the ancient tradition (i.e. completely reinvented the system)” or ‘I am a powerful and dark mage and you all are not as wise or worthy or accomplished as me, shudder before me!” blah blah approach. Julio takes neither.
The closest comparison I can think of for this book is John R King’s account of his own results working the Keys of Solomon, as found in his ‘Imperial Arts‘ and other volumes. Julio and John have many things in common but are also working from quite different angles and worldviews. Julio doesn’t agree with John’s interpretations of what exactly the spirits are all about but it is interesting and encouraging to see that the two authors meet very much in the middle when it comes to reporting on their practical results and experiences. Ultimately, Julio’s book is one of the first devoted to Solomonic magic traditions that has made me feel like granted the right time, resources and dedication I could engage with and make progress in these traditions myself without having to cut corners or needlessly rework things.
This is a welcome, valuable contribution to the growing literature on the ‘grimoiric revival’ and I am very grateful to Julio for making it available. I am not experienced in the practice of Solomonic magic, so my opinion is probably not worth very much here, but if you’re at all interested in this topic, I strongly recommend getting a copy.
If you’d like to listen to an older interview with Julio on his work with grimoiric traditions, see here, and here, and you can also find Julio’s blog by clicking here.