Arbatel of Magic

Arbatel of Magic
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The Arbatel of Magic is a slim text written in Latin and published in Basel, Switzerland, in 1575. It was translated into German in 1686. The authorship is not known, but it is speculated the person may have been Italian, because of several obscure references to Italian history. The book refers to “Theophrastic Magic,” indicating influences of Paracelsus. It has no connection to the Solomonic writings and does not even mention Solomon; rather, it has strong Christian elements. Waite considered it representative of “transcendental magic.” The Arbatel purports to be a nine-volume work of instructions on the magical arts, but only the first volume, or tome, is extant. It is uncertain whether the other eight tomes were ever written; perhaps, the anonymous author intended to write them but failed to follow through. The first tome is called Isagoge, which means “essential or fundamental instruction.”

Isagoge comprises Seven Septenaries of aphorisms of a moral and spiritual nature that cite the sources of occult wisdom: God, angels, learned men, nature (stones, herbs, and so forth), apostate spirits, ministers of punishment in Hell (comparable to the avenging classical gods), and the spirits of the elements. The wisdom obtainable from these sources ranges from the low magic of finding treasures to alchemical transmutations to mystical knowledge of God. Meditation, love of God, and living in accordance with the virtues are emphasized as the best means for practicing the magical arts.

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