Ye Bok of Ye Art Magical (Þe Bok of þe Art Magical, "the book of the magical art") is a handwritten grimoire by Gerald Gardner.
It is the predecessor of Gardner's book of shadows.
Together with High Magic's Aid, it is one of the two oldest Wiccan documents.
The grimoire was written in and around 1947, which is indicated by the Crowleyan references therein,
Gerald Gardner having known Aleister Crowley from May to November of 1947.
Content[edit | edit source]
The book contains much of the same material that is present in Gardner's later book of shadows,
as well as large verbatim excerpts from the Key of Solomon, quotes from the Judeo-Christian bible,
the liturgy of a Golden Dawn ritual, an excerpt from one of Aleister Crowley's books about magic,
an excerpt from the Ars Goetia of the Lesser Key of Solomon, and the excerpt from the book Aradia
that tells witches to perform their rituals nude.
The Symbol On The Front Cover[edit | edit source]
On the front cover of Ye Bok of ye Art Magical is a symbol that consists of an upward-pointing pentagram
and an upward-pointing triangle, with the triangle above the pentagram.
That same symbol also appears in the early version of Gerald Gardner's book of shadows,
in which it is to the right of the liturgy of the third-degree initiation ritual.
That symbol represents the so-called 'five points of fellowship' in the third-degree initiation ritual,
which are actually eight points, and they are the same 8 points as in the five-fold kiss.
The five points of the pentagram represent the two feet, the two knees, and the genitals.
The three points of the triangle represent the two breasts and the lips.
In the third-degree initiation ritual, the initiate lays flat on their back with their genitals in the middle of the circle,
then the high priest or priestess of the opposite sex lays down on top of the initiate,
putting the penis into the vagina, kissing lips to lips, and touching feet to feet, knees to knees, and breast to breast.
Coded Writing[edit | edit source]
Some of the words in the book are written in code, often in the so-called "theban script" (which was invented in western Germany).
One code that appears three times in the book is "V.V.V.V.V.".
That is a Cowleyan abbreviation that means both "Vir (man), Vis (power), Virus (poison), Virtus (manliness), Viridis (green)"
and "vi veri vniversum vivus vici" ("by way of truth, I, a mortal, have conquered the universe").
In the first instance in which V.V.V.V.V. appears in the manuscript, it is followed by a sequence of three characters:
a heart, a downward-pointing star, and the letter V.
That is a code for the three-word Crowleyan phrase "love under will",
in which the letter V stands for the word 'voluntas', which is the latin word for 'will'.
Gardner sometimes uses a downward-pointing triangle to signify the word 'and', such as in the phrase 'cakes and wine'.
Gardner used the abbreviation '5S' to signify the five-fold kiss in ritual liturgies.
Gardner used a very thick-lined circle to signify a single kiss in ritual liturgies.