Abramelin, or Abra-Melin, is the claimed eponym of the author of a famous grimoire which calls itself The Book of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage.
The grimoire itself is found in a manuscript in the Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal in Paris. It is framed as a sort of epistolary novel in which Abramelin, or Abraham, the Jew, reveals his magical and Kabbalistic secrets to his son Lamech, and dates itself to the year 1458. It moreover claims to have been translated from Hebrew into French, the language in which it is extant. From the spelling and usage, the French text likely dates to the eighteenth century, and the existing text gives few indications of having ever been in Hebrew. The author quotes psalms from the Vulgate in Latin. The Bibliothèque de l'Arsenal was founded in 1797.
This grimoire was translated into English by Samuel L. MacGregor Mathers in 1897. The magic of the grimoire was influential in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a fact which has burnished the reputation of this particular text beyond its fellows such as the Key of Solomon.
The grimoire describes an elaborate ritual whose purpose is to obtain the "knowledge and conversation" of the magician's "Holy Guardian Angel." The preparations are elaborate, difficult, and long; the initial phase of working the system lasts exactly six months before any divine contact is known. During this period, the magician the magician must wake up every day before dawn, and go to a certain area and pray, and at sunset he must do the same thing. During this preparatory phase, there are many restrictions: chastity must be observed, alcoholic beverages refused, and the magician must conduct his business with scrupulous fairness.
After the preparatory phase has been successfully completed, the magician's guardian angel will appear to teach the magician magical secrets. The chief goals of these secrets are to compel the magician's personal demon, presumably the inverse counterpart of the Guardian Angel, to serve the magician. The magical goals for which the demon can be employed are typical of the grimoire literature: you are promised the ability to find buried treasure, cast love charms, the ability of magical flight, and the secret of invisibility. Magic squares feature prominently in the instructions for carrying out these operations.
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Encyclopedia of Thelema
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