Question: "What is the Key of Solomon?"
Answer: The Key of Solomon is a medieval grimoire, or book of magic, wrongly attributed to Solomon, son of David. Scholars typically identify the Key of Solomon as a 14th- or 15th-century piece of Latin literature.
Most remaining manuscripts date from the 16th to 18th centuries, including translations in several languages, especially Italian. The manuscripts include many pentacles, or necromantic designs, to be used in invocations and spells.
According to the mythology included in the document, King Solomon originally wrote the book for his son Rehoboam and commanded him to hide it in his tomb upon his death. Allegedly, the book was later discovered by a group of Babylonian philosophers while repairing Solomon’s tomb. One of these men received a vision in which a supposed angel commanded him to hide the book from the “unworthy.” This led the philosopher to cast a spell on the book.
The first section of the Key of Solomon includes a variety of chants, spells, and curses to summon or restrain demons and the spirits of the dead. The section also touches on other magic spells dealing with how to become invisible and how to find love. One prayer to cast out a demon reads like this:
“Lord Jesus Christ, the loving son of God, which dost illuminate the hearts of all men in the world, lighten the darkness of my heart, and kindle the fire of thy most holy love in me. Give me true faith, perfect charity, and virtue, whereby I may learn to fear and love thee and keep thy commandments in all things; that when the last day shall come, the angel of god may peaceably take me, and deliver me from the power of the devil, that I may enjoy everlasting rest amidst the company of the holy saints, and sit on thy right. Grant this, thou son of the living God for thy holy name's sake. Amen.”
This prayer includes an obvious anachronism. The reference to the “Lord Jesus Christ” proves the manuscript was not written during the time of Solomon. The prayer also mixes magic and church teachings, which was common to Italian literature of the Middle Ages.
The second section of the Key of Solomon lists and describes a variety of purifications an exorcist should undergo. Instructions are given on clothing, magical devices, and even animal sacrifices.
In popular culture, the Key of Solomon has received attention due to being featured in Dan Brown’s bestselling 2009 novel The Lost Symbol. While the grimoire’s benefit as a narrative tool is fascinating, its appearance in Brown’s novel does nothing to bolster the Key’s accuracy.
In summary, the Key of Solomon is neither a “key” nor “of Solomon.” It is simply a book of medieval magic that utilizes Judeo-Christian themes. While the book is valuable for historical research, its subject matter is unbiblical. The Key of Solomon is not connected in any way with the biblical character mentioned in its title.