Lesser and Greater Keys
There seems to be a lot of confusion in regards to the Solomonic Keys. The first thing we should consider is the relationship between the Lesser and Greater Keys of Solomon. From what evidence i have been able to procure, the Greater Key is the older of the two grimoires. At first glance the Greater Key, or what i will just refer to now as the Key, is a simple text filled with grandiose evocations and certain preparatory rites for the ritual. As we familiarize ourselves with the Key we begin to touch into its source of power which has its roots buried in antiquity. Quickly we come to see a text that shares with us the science of ritual; be it religious or otherwise, it is the steps necessary for a complete ceremonial practice. The deeper we get into the Key the more apparent its sacredness becomes. Its not only a ceremonial source book for practicing magic, it contains the necessary formulas for ascending the planes or aethers. We find in the first text Solomon speaking to his son about magic and the Kabbalah and how the wiser of the sons is offered the sacred science of the Kabbalah and the less wise son is offered the Keys of Solomon. This hints at the necessity for learning and knowing the arts and mysteries of the Kabbalah. It quickly becomes self evident to the student that without a basic knowledge of the Kabbalah, the Key becomes just another magical text of the Grimoire era. With the Knowledge of the two, the adept has the keys to open all the gates up unto the Great Abyss – which is the place where the Keys leave us to Divine Providence. That is a basic idea of the Greater Key of Solomon.
As for the Lesser Key, or what we will simply call the Lemegeton, is a collection of five grimoires that might or might not have been penned by the same adept. The Lemegeton is a later grimoire that borrows heavily from the Key and certain other great adepts of the past. Right away we can feel the difference between the Key the Lemegeton. The Lemegeton’s focus is for dominion over certain goetic and semi daemonic forces for power, knowledge, and control. While the Key uses many difficult preparatory practices, we can see in the Lemegeton that these have been minimized for the practitioner. There is a big difference between them religiously, with the Key we can feel the sacredness of the religious ceremonies and rites’ echoing within its practices and evocations, while in the Lemegeton it seems that the early 13th and 14th century magical grimoire traditions has taken precedence, as if the religious aspect of the Key was rip out of it and all that was left was evocations to certain spiritual forces rather than spiritual planes.
Having said that about the two grimoires of Solomon, i would like to point out that even though their sources and focus is different, they are still very compatible with each other. In fact, the two together with the science of the Kabbalah, give a well round system of magic for the adept to work with as they ascend the Tree of Life. Sadly or thankfully, their obscurity makes it very difficult for the neophyte to practice and work with. This is why it is vital in the beginning to have someone initiate us into this system of magic.
Having briefly spoken of the Greater Key above i would now like to break down the Lemegeton before we get to your question. The Lemegeton is made up of five separate grimoires:
Goetia, this grimoires deals with the seventy-two legendary daemons that Solomon evoked and controlled with his ring of power to build the Great Temple of G-D. These 72 spirits have a close relationship to the sacred Shem Ha-Mephoresh, or Sacred Name of Extension. These 72 Goetic spirits are balanced with the 72 angels that hold up the name of the Lord – or spirits of the Shem Ha-Mephoresh. The Goetia has many usages, to some it is a way to gain riches, secrets, power, etc… for others it’s a means for control and dominion over their surroundings, and still to others it is a process of working with the dark forces within the universe and within themselves. For more information on the 72 angelic powers read the Sepher Raziel.
The Theurgia Goetia was original believed to be a formation of calling upon the 32 Paths of the Tree of Life. Each of these energies was corresponded to one of the elemental kingdoms to help the adept keep balanced in their ascension. The Theurgia Goetia has the appearance of beginning where the Goetia leaves off, but its formation and foundation is set in a completely different configuration.
The Ars Paulina deals with the Twelve Celestial energies and the spirits that rule over the sections/hours of the day.
The Almadel deals with the four quadricals of the universe and all the spirits under their domain. This text hints at being a elemental starting point for working with the Solomon work, as it offers us an opportunity to gain balance and control over our sphere of experince.
The Ars Notoria is the last of the five books of the Lemegeton and it represents the prayers and invocations of the angels of the Lord by utilizing the science of the lunar cycles. It is a proper ends towards gaining communion with the Lord, as we have come to control all the difference forces of the Universe. It is a logical step in the process of becoming a Great Adept in the Solomonic Traditions.
So the Lemegeton is a complete magical system that helps us tap into the elemental, planetary, celestial, and infernal reamls. While the Key offers us the Great Rite from which we become initiated into the Higher Arts and begin our ascention into the Heavenly Spheres.