Picatrix: A Medieval Treatise on Astral Magic

Picatrix: A Medieval Treatise on Astral Magic

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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, Ghāyat al-Ḥakīm, 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. 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.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780271082127
Publisher: Penn State University Press
Publication date: 02/08/2019
Series: Magic in History Series
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 264,167
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Dan Attrell is a doctoral candidate in Medieval and Renaissance History studying the Western esoteric tradition at the University of Waterloo.

David Porreca is Associate Professor of Classical Studies and codirector of the Medieval Studies program at the University of Waterloo and is president of the Societas Magica.

Table of Contents

List of Tables ix

Acknowledgments xi


A Prehistory of the Latin Picatrix 3

A Brief History of the Latin Text 4

On Knowledge, Wisdom, and Self-Legitimacy in the Picatrix 8

On Nigromancia 10

The Cosmology of the Picatrix 12

The Picatrix, Social History, and Material Culture 16

Psychoactive and/or Poisonous Substances in the Picatrix 26

Translators' Notes 31


Prologue 37

Book 1 39

Book 2 69

Book 3 131

Book 4 217

Notes 281

Bibliography 299

Index of Terrestrial Names 305

Index of Celestial Names and Magical Words 311

Index of Subjects and Materials 317

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