Legends have connected the biblical King Solomon, son of
David, with magical practices. Although it does not possess any
biblical authority, there is a considerable body of Middle Eastern
folklore concerning Solomon that grows out of his reputation
as one of the wisest of men, coupled with the possible identification
of Solomon with a still older mythical figure named
Suleiman. Arabic and Persian legends speak of a prehistoric
race that was ruled by 72 monarchs by the name of Suleiman.
Nineteenth-century occultist John Yarker, author of The Arcane
Schools (1909), stated It does not seem that these Suleimans
who are par excellence the rulers of all Djinn, Afreets and
other elemental spirits, bear any relationship to the Israelite
King. The name, he said, is found in that of a god of the Babylonians.
Dr. Kenealy, the translator of Hafiz, said that the earliest
Aryan teachers were named Mohn, Bodles, or Solymi, and
that Suleiman was an ancient title of royal power, synonymous
with Sultan or Pharaoh.
A Persian legend states that in the mountains of Kaf, there
is a gallery built by the giant Arzeak, where there are statues of
a race who were ruled by the Suleiman or wise King of the East.
There is a great chair or throne of Solomon hewn out of the
solid rock called the Takht-i-Suleiman or throne of Solomon.
It is to these older Suleimans that we must look for a connection
with the tradition of occultism. It is not unlikely that the
legend relating to Solomon and his temple have been confused
with these, and that the protagonists of the antiquity of Freemasonry,
who trace their organization to the building of Solomons
Temple, have intermingled some still older rite or mystery
relating to the ancient dynasty of Suleiman with the
circumstances of the Masonic activities of the Hebrew monarch.
Hebrew historian Josephus notes,
God enabled Solomon to learn that skill which expels demons,
which is a science useful and sanative to men. He composed
such incantations, also, by which distempers are alleviated,
and he left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by
which they drive away demons, so that they never return. And
this method of cure is of great force unto this day; for I have
seen a certain man of my own country, whose name was Eleazar,
releasing people that were demoniacal, in the presence of
Vespasian and his sons, and his captains, and the whole multitude
of his soldiers.
The manner of the cure was this. He put a ring that had
a root of one of these sorts mentioned by Solomon to the nostrils;
and when the man fell down immediately, he adjured him
to return unto him no more, making still mention of Solomon,
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology 5th Ed. Solomon
and reciting the incantations which he composed. And when
Eleazar would persuade and demonstrate to the spectators that
he had such a power, he set, a little way off, a cup, or basin full
of water, and commanded the demon as he went out of the
man, to overturn it, and thereby to let the spectators know that
he had left the man.
Some claimed fragments of these magical books of Solomon
are mentioned in the Codex Pseudepigraphus of Fabricius, and
Josephus himself has described one of the antidemoniacal
roots, which appears to refer to legends of the perils involved
in gathering the mandrake root, or mandragoras.
The Islamic Solomon
The Quran alleges that Solomon had power over the winds,
and that he rode on his throne throughout the world during
the day, and the wind brought it back every night to Jerusalem.
This throne was placed on a carpet of green silk, of a prodigious
length and breadth, and sufficient to afford standing
room to all Solomons army, the men on his right hand and the
jinn on his left. An army of the most beautiful birds hovered
near the throne, forming a kind of canopy over it and the attendants,
to screen the king and his soldiers from the sun.
A certain number of evil spirits were also made subject to
Solomon, whose business it was to dive for pearls and perform
It is also stated that the devils, having received permission
to tempt Solomon, in which they were not successful, conspired
to ruin his character. They wrote several books of magic, and
hid them under his throne, and when he died they told the
chief men among the Jews that if they wished to ascertain the
manner in which Solomon obtained his absolute power over
men, Genii, and the winds, they should dig under his throne.
They did so and found the books, abounding with the most impious
The more learned and enlightened refused to participate in
the practices described in those books, but they were willingly
adopted by the common people. Muslims asserted that the Jewish
priests published this scandalous story concerning Solomon,
which was believed until Mahomet, by Gods command,
declared him to have been no idolater.
It was further maintained by some Muslims that Solomon
brought a thousand horses from Damascus and other cities he
conquered, although some say they were left to him by his father
David, who seized them from the Amalekites; others
claimed that they came out of the Red Sea and were provided
with wings. The king wished to inspect his horses and ordered
them to be paraded before him. Their symmetry and beauty so
much occupied his attention that he gazed on them after sunset,
and thus neglected evening prayers until it was too late.
When aware of his omission, he was so greatly concerned at it
that he ordered the horses to be killed as an offering to God,
keeping a hundred of the best of them. This, we are informed,
procured for him an ample recompense, as he received for the
loss of his horses dominion over the winds.
The following tradition was narrated by Muslim commentators
relative to the building of the temple of Jerusalem. According
to them, David laid the foundations of it, and when he died
he left it to be finished by Solomon. That prince employed
Jinn, and not men, in the work; and this idea may relate to what
is said in Kings 67, that the temple was built of stone, made
ready before it was brought thither, so that there was neither
hammer, no axe, nor any tool of iron, heard in the house while
it was building. The rabbis noticed a worm that they claimed
assisted the workmen, the power of which was such as to cause
the rocks and stones to separate in chiseled blocks.
While engaged in the erection of the temple, Solomon
found his end approaching, and he prayed that his death might
be concealed from the Jinn until the building was finished. His
request was granted. He died while in the act of praying, leaning
on the staff that supported his body in that posture for a
whole year. The Jinn, who believed he was still alive, continued
their work. At the expiration of the year the edifice was completed.
When a worm that had entered the staff ate through it
and, to the amazement even of the Jinn, the body fell to the
ground, the king was discovered to be dead.
The inhabitants of the valley of Lebanon believed that the
celebrated city and temple of Baalbec were erected by the Jinn
under Solomons direction. The object of the erection of Baalbec
was variously stated, one tradition affirming that it was intended
to be a residence for the Egyptian princess whom Solomon
married, and another that it was built for the Queen of
The Magical Solomon
From the sixteenth century on, occultists have studied the
great grimoire known as The Key of Solomon (Clavicula Salomonis)
to which tradition ascribes an ancient history before it was committed
to writing. This book of ceremonial magic has two sections
the Great Key and the Lemegeton or Lesser Key. The first is
concerned with magic spells, rituals, and talismans, the second
with the evocation of spirits.
There is also another work known as The Testament of Solomon
that was translated into German from an ancient Greek
manuscript. Manuscripts of the Testament have also been reported
from Greek monasteries, and the work is extremely rare
in any format. The work claims to be Solomons own story covering
the period between the building of the Temple in Jerusalem
and his own fall from grace. It tells the story of a vampirelike
Jinn and the magic ring of Solomon and details the various
spirits and the magical means of controlling them. The ring of
Solomon is also the subject of stories in the Arabian Nights.
In the seventeenth century, Freemasons began to trace their
work backward to Hiram, the architect of Solomons kingdom.
This indirect reference to Solomon has possibly been the single
reference that has kept Solomon associated with the occult
Conybeare, F. C., ed. The Key of Truth. London, 1898.
Mathers, F. L. MacGregor, ed. The Key of Solomon the King.
London George Redway, 1908. Reprint, London Routledge
and Kegan Paul, 1972.
Shah, Sayed Idires. The Secret Lore of Magic Books of the Sorcerers.
London Frederick Muller, 1957.
Waite, Arthur E. The Book of Ceremonial Magic. London William
Rider, 1911. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y. University
Books, 1961. Reprint, New York Causeway Books, 1973.