Picatrix the ancient arabian book of astrology and occult magic

Description A manual for constructing talismans, mixing magical compounds, summoning planetary spirits, and determining astrological conditions, Picatrix is a cornerstone of Western esotericism. It offers important insights not only into occult practices and beliefs but also into the transmission of magical ideas from antiquity to the present. Dan Attrell and David Porreca's English translation opens the world of this vital medieval treatise to modern-day scholars and lay readers.

The original text, Ghayat al-Hakim, was compiled in Arabic from over two hundred sources in the latter half of the tenth century. It was translated into Castilian Spanish in the mid-thirteenth century, and shortly thereafter into Latin.


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Based on David Pingree's edition of the Latin text, this translation captures the spirit of Picatrix's role in the European tradition. In the world of Picatrix, we see a seamless integration of practical magic, earnest piety, and traditional philosophy. The detailed introduction considers the text's reception through multiple iterations and includes an enlightening statistical breakdown of the rituals described in the book.

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Framed by extensive research on the ancient and medieval context that gave rise to the Latin version of the text, this translation of Picatrix will be an indispensable volume for students and scholars of the history of science, magic, and religion and will fascinate anyone interested in the occult. Other books in this series. Picatrix Dan Attrell. Add to basket.

Table of contents

Forbidden Rites Richard Kieckhefer. Spiritual and Demonic Magic D. Binding Words Don C. Ritual Magic Elizabeth M. Invoking Angels Claire Fanger. Conjuring Spirits Claire Fanger. Unlocked Books Benedek Lang. The Fortunes of Faust Elizabeth M. The Bathhouse at Midnight W. Rewriting Magic Claire Fanger. The Transformations of Magic Frank Klaassen. Strange Revelations Lynn Wood Mollenauer.

Icons of Power Naomi Janowitz. Magic in the Cloister Sophie Page. Magic in the Modern World Edward Bever. Alchemical Belief Bruce Janacek. Review quote "Attrell and Porreca have performed a great service by giving us a carefully considered and scholarly English translation of this wide-ranging work, based on the authoritative edition established by David Pingree in As Picatrix was no doubt of interest to a variety of medieval and early modern readers for an array of reasons, so too it should attract a broad readership now, from scholars of medieval magic to those more directly interested in philosophy, science, and medicine.


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  • Bailey, The Medieval Review "The Picatrix reemerged in the mid-fifteenth century, almost two centuries after the Latin version of the Ghayat al-Hakim had been produced. Thank goodness that this learned and living English translation of such an important Latin book of astral magic will reach its twenty-first-century audience of scholars and inquisitive spirits much more quickly!

    Attrell and Porreca's contribution offers a proper remedy: the introduction gives new insight into the origins of this mysterious book, and the translation reflects the true nature of its exciting text. O Master of sublime name and great power, supreme Master; O Master Saturn: Thou, the Cold, the Sterile, the Mournful, the Pernicious; Thou, whose life is sincere and whose word sure; Thou, the Sage and Solitary, the Impenetrable; Thou, whose promises are kept; Thou who art weak and weary; Thou who hast cares greater than any other, who knowest neither pleasure nor joy; Thou, the old and cunning, master of all artifice, deceitful, wise, and judicious; Thou who bringest prosperity or ruin, and makest men to be happy or unhappy!

    The work's point of departure is the unity of reality divided into symmetrical and corresponding degrees, planes or worlds: a reality stretched between two poles: the original One, God the source of all existence, and man, the microcosm, who, with his science scientia brings the dispersion back to its origin, identifying and using their correspondences. According to the Prologue, the author researched over two hundred works in the creation of Picatrix.

    The influence of Jabir ibn Hayyan comes in the form of a cosmological background that removes magical practices from the context of diabolical influences and reasserts these practices as having a divine origin. The author of Picatrix utilizes Neoplatonic theories of hypostasis that mirror the work of ibn Hayyan. However, no biography of al-Majriti mentions him as the author of this work.

    More recent attributions of authorship range from "the Arabic version is anonymous" to reiterations of the old claim that the author is "the celebrated astronomer and mathematician Abu l-Qasim Maslama b. Ahmad Al-Majriti". The odd Latin title is sometimes explained as a sloppy transliteration of one "Buqratis", mentioned several times in the second of the four books of the work.

    Reaching the Goal of the Sage: What's it take? (Picatrix)

    Ultimately, linking the name, Picatrix, with Hippocrates , [21] [22] has fallen into disfavor because the text separately cites Hippocrates under the name Ypocras. Martin Plessner suggests that a translator of the Picatrix established a medieval definition of scientific experiment by changing a passage in the Hebrew translation of the Arabic original, establishing a theoretical basis for the experimental method: "the invention of an hypothesis in order to explain a certain natural process, then the arranging of conditions under which that process may intentionally be brought about in accordance with the hypothesis, and finally, the justification or refutation of the hypothesis, depending on the outcome of the experiment".

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    Plessner notes that it is generally agreed that awareness of, "the specific nature of the experimental method—as distinct from the practical use of it—is an achievement of the 16th and 17th centuries. The original passage in Arabic describes how a man who witnessed a treatment for a scorpion's sting drinking a potion of frankincense that had received seal imprints had gone on to experiment with different types of frankincense, assuming that this was the cause for the cure, but later found that the seal images were the cause for the cure, regardless of the substance upon which they were impressed.

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    The author of the Picatrix goes on to explain how the explanation of the effectiveness of cures passed on to him by authorities was then proved to him by his own experience. And that was the reason which incited me [to devote myself to astrological magic]. Moreover, these secrets were already made known by Nature, and the experience approved them.

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    The man dealing with nature has nothing to do but producing a reason of what the experience has brought out. Plessner also notes that "neither the Arabic psychology of study nor the Hebrew definition of the experiment is rendered in the Latin Picatrix. The Latin translator omits many theoretical passages throughout the work.