Iuratus: Christian Elements, the Depth of Knowledge, and Authorship and Audience- Conclusion- Works Cited

Start at the beginning

See the previous instalment in case you missed it

The faith and devotion of the practitioner are constantly referenced throughout the text. In the introduction it is said the book can only be given to a man “both Godly and faithful, whose Godly behavior had been tried for the space of a whole year.” He is to be not just a devout person, but observed and tested for a year to prove himself worthy. When actually performing the rituals the practitioner is to be clean, to fast, and pray with devotion. That he must be “very penitent and truly confessed of all his sins.” Very similar requests appear throughout the text. Anyone undertaking this practice must attend Mass and take communion daily for a period of at least a month, which indicates the level of faith and devotion the practitioner must have. Coming at it from another angle it is warned that undertaking parts of the ritual “for an evil purpose” would lead to “death unto him.” It makes a case for the notion that the practitioner truly must be, not just a Christian, but a devout and Godly practitioner, undertaking the rituals in the text for only the highest ideals.

The Christian nature of the text and practitioner is repeatedly highlighted by the idea of divine authority. From the introduction it is said that “it is not possible that a wicked and unclean man should work truely [sic] in this art, for men are not bound to spirits, but the spirits are constrained against their wills to answer men that are cleansed or clean, and to fulfill their requests.” This is internal justification through the practitioner’s own holiness, it is saying that for this to work the practitioner must be cleansed or holy, and that the art of this book cannot work for those who are not holy. It is not just a personal devotion that enables the practitioner to commune with angels and spirits; it is asserted that such an ability is through the grace of YHWH. The ritual prayers say that they are completed “through God’s help” or “through … [God’s] mediation” . These rituals are framed that it is through the power or permission of YHWH that they have any effect. Contrasted with the earlier notion that the text cannot successfully be used by pagans or Jews it further supports the idea that the text is meant to be used by a Christian, and is dependent on their Christian faith and devotion.

When considering the author and audience of Liber Iuratus Honorii it becomes clear that the most likely candidate for both is a member of the clergy. The practitioner is required to be very devout and pious, and the author is highly skilled in Latin, knowledgeable in Greek, Hebrew, very familiar with Church prayers, rituals, scriptures, and Christian writings. On its own this suggests a priest or another member of the church. Such education would be largely the domain of the clerics, the scribes, and the nobility, limiting potential authors and audiences. The depth and breadth of knowledge, along with the literacy and devotional requirements leave very few potential authors or readers, but a priest would be on the top of that list.
This isn’t as unlikely as it initially seems. Despite being linguistically inaccurate the practice of summoning spirits was regarded as necromancy, regardless of the purpose of the summoning, or the nature of the spirit. To repeat a question and answer of Richard Kieckhefer “Who were the necromancers? Both in legend and before the law it was clerics above all others who stood accused of necromancy.” He goes onto explain that “cleric” is a hard word to define, for it can include anyone who has any level of ordination which includes doorkeeper and acolyte. The training was not through a seminary, but more of an apprentice relationship with another priest. Sometimes their ordination was not about a holy calling, but a way of getting an education, and one of the lower orders of ordination was that of exorcist “and in the ordination ceremony he would receive a book of exorcisms as a symbol of his theoretical function.” They were given the book as a “symbol” of office; it wasn’t something they were trained in, but more something if needed they would turn to the text for. This is another peculiarity, as one might assume these rituals would require training, but the Liber Iuratus Honorii was also passed on at the time of the master’s death , meaning the practitioner also received no training in the use of the text. Kieckhefer suggests there was a “clerical underworld” which is not really defined in terms of structure (if any) or purpose (if any), but that to some extent there was a collection of priests who studied and practiced this type of conjuration. Considering the amount of knowledge displayed all throughout the formation of Liber Iuratus Honorii, and the proposed existence of the clerical underworld it is reasonable to assume that the author of Liber Iuratus Honorii was a priest.

Concluding Thoughts

The Christian identification of Liber Iuratus Honorii is evidence of a complex process of religious thought and religious exchange. Initial readings reveal seemingly contradicting ideas: summoning angels to stir up war, devotional prayers and confession to Jesus, condemning the pope as a puppet of demons. Yet each of these contradictions are a thread in a complex textual and ideological tapestry, evidence of Jewish Qabalah and Islamic conjurations, intensely devotional Christian worship, and anti-Church sentiments. Individually these threads conflict and confuse, but if the reader slows down and reads the text as a whole from a distance, than the picture begins to become clear. Liber Iuratus Honorii becomes hard to conceptualize as anything but a thoroughly Christian text, written in such a way that makes it inaccessible to the laity, but perfect for a priestly audience. Clerical in origin and Christian in nature, Liber Iuratus Honorii shows the detailed and complex currents of medieval Christianity through an unusual but devout text.

Works Cited (In order of reference)

Joseph H. Peterson trans. Liber Juratus Honorii, or the Sworn Book of Honorius. Esoteric Archives. http://www.esotericarchives.com/juratus/juratus.htm (accessed February 25, 2013)

Robert Mathiesen. “A Thirteenth-Century Ritual to Attain the Beatific Vision from the Sworn Book of Honorius of Thebes.” in Conjuring Spirits: Texts and Traditions of Medieval Ritual Magic. ed. Claire Fanger. (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998. 143-162.)

Richard Kieckhefer. “The Devil’s Contemplatives: The Liber Iuratus, the Liber Visionum and Christian Appropriation of Jewish Occultism.” in Conjuring Spirits: Texts and Traditions of Medieval Ritual Magic. ed. Claire Fanger. (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1998. 250-265.)

Katelyn Mesler. “The Liber Iuratus Honorii and the Christian Reception of Angel Magic.” in Invoking Angels: Theurgic Ideas and Practices, Thirteenth to Sixteenth Centuries. ed. Clair Fanger. (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012. 113-150.)

Owen Davies, Grimoires: A History of Magic Books (New York: Oxford Press, 2009)

Henry Cornelius Agrippa, Three Books of Occult Philosophy, trans. James Freake, ed. Donald Tyson (Woodbury: Llewellyn Publications)

Clair Fanger. “Covenant and the Divine Name: Revisiting the Liber Iuratus and John of Morigny’s Liber Florum.” in Invoking Angels: Theurgic Ideas and Practices, Thirteenth to Sixteenth Centuries. ed. Clair Fanger. (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2012. 192-216.),

Richard Kieckhefer, Magic in the Middle Ages (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)

Philip T. Weller, trans., The Roman Ritual (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1964)

One Response to Iuratus: Christian Elements, the Depth of Knowledge, and Authorship and Audience- Conclusion- Works Cited

  1. […] Christian Elements, The Depth of Knowledge, and Authorshop and Audience Part III, and Conclusion and… […]

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