The story of Doctor Johann Georg Faust is better known through literature and legend than by the few existing facts which document his life. Even his birth date is an estimate ranging from 1466 to 1480, which covers two broken mirrors’ worth of supposition. Anyway, what little is known can be roughly put down thus:
Faust was a scholar and a Doctor of Philosophy. He was an itinerant alchemist, astrologer, magician, and occultist. He performed magic tricks in shows and wrote horoscopes on commission. During his life, he was variously described as a trickster, a fraud, and a con man—-mainly due to customers dissatisfied with their horoscopes. He was denounced by the Church as being “in league with the Devil,” a necromancer, a practitioner of Black Magic, and a “sodomite” who corrupted and abused his students. This latter accusation almost led to his arrest and imprisonment.
He wrote several grimoires and chapbooks, including the chapbook featured here Praxis Magia Faustiana (1527) in which he described how to conjure up demons like “Mephistopheles.” This was the very first time the name “Mephistopheles” was ever documented. According to legend, Mephistopheles was the demon to whom Faust sold his soul in return for unlimited knowledge and wealth. We don’t what exactly happened when Faust “conjured” up this demon, we do, however, have Faust’s description of him as one of the Seven Great Princes of Hell who:
...stands under the planet Jupiter, his regent is named Zadikel, an enthroned angel of holy Jehovah…his form is firstly that of a fiery bear, the other and fairer appearance is as of a little man with a black cape and a bald head.
Doesn’t sound so terribly demonic, does it?
Faust did have some fans—including one bishop who considered his astrological work very convincing and some academics who praised his medical knowledge. But generally, he was greatly feared and was banished from Ingolstadt in 1528. Faust died in an explosion during an alchemical experiment circa 1541. His body was hideously scarred. This gave rise to the legend he had died during a conjuring rite and the Devil had sent his emissary Mephistopheles to bring Faust’s soul to Hell.
Faust’s chapbooks provided the source material for Christopher Marlowe‘s play The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus (circa 1588), in particular the following volume that first detailed Faust’s dealing with the tricky Mephisopheles.
The text opens with a long list of the names of angels and demons before invoking the “Spirit by the power and virtue of the letters which I have inscribed - do I command thee to give me a sign of thy arrival.”
Then more names:
Larabay + Belion + Sonor + Soraman + Bliar + Sonor + Arotan + Niza + Raphael + Alazaman + Eman + Nazaman + Tedoyl + Teabicabal + Ruos, Acluaar + Iambala + Cochim
Zebaman + Sehemath + Egibut + Philomel + Gazaman + Delet + Azatan + Uriel + Facal + Alazamant + Nisia + By the most sacred and holy mercy of God + Zeyhomann + Acluaas + Niza + Tachal + Neciel + Amatemach + Her somini +
By this I compel thee to appear unto me before this circle and to do what I command thee…
Now do I conjure and command thee O Evil Spirit by the powers of Heaven and by the words of life…Mephistophilis and by the power off the words +Tetragram + Agla + Adonay + Amin
Now I conjure thee to come from thy abode even from the farthest parts by these great and mighty names - Tetragrammaton - Adonai - Agla - and to appear before me receiving and executing my demands truly and without falsehood I command thee O Spirit Rumoar -, even by t[h]y great sovereign Lucifer.