Picatrix: A Medieval Treatise on Astral Magic
A guide 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 indispensable 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, this translation of Picatrix will be in indispensable volume for students and scholars of the history of science, magic, and religion and will fascinate anyone interested in the occult.
Shamanism and the Mysteries: A Brief History of the Cult of Ecstasy
The administration of initiation rites by an ecstatic specialist, now known to western scholarship by the general designation of ‘shaman’, has proven to be one of humanity’s oldest, most widespread, and continuous magico-religious traditions. At the heart of their initiatory rituals lay an ordeal – a metaphysical journey – almost ubiquitously brought on by the effects of a life-changing hallucinogenic drug experience. To guide their initiates, these shaman worked with a repertoire of locally acquired instruments, costumes, dances, and ecstasy-inducing substances. Among past Mediterranean cultures, Semitic and Indo-European, these sorts of initiation rites were vital to society’s spiritual well-being. It was, however, the mystery schools of antiquity – organizations founded upon conserving the secrets of plant-lore, astrology, theurgy and mystical philosophy – which satisfied the role of the shaman in Greco-Roman society. The rites they delivered to the common man were a form of ritualized ecstasy and they provided an orderly context for religiously-oriented intoxication.
In the eastern Mediterranean, these ecstatic cults were most often held in honour of a great mother goddess and her perennially dying-and-rising consort. The goddess’ religious dramas enacted in cultic ritual stressed the importance of fasting, drumming, trance-inducing music, self-mutilation, and a non-alcoholic ritual intoxication. Far and wide the dying consort worshiped by these cults was a god of vegetation, ecstasy, revelation, and salvation; by ingesting his body initiates underwent a profound mystical experience. From what limited information has survived from antiquity, it appears that the rites practiced in the eastern mystery cults were in essence traditional shamanic ordeals remodeled to suit the psychological needs of Mediterranean civilization’s marginalized people. This book argues then that the myths of this vegetable god, so-called ‘the Divine Bridegroom,’ particularly in manifestation of the so-called “Phrygian” Attis and the “Greek” Dionysus, is deeply rooted in the life-cycle, cultivation, treatment, consumption of a tree-born hallucinogenic mushroom, Amanita muscaria. The use of this mushroom is alive and well today among Finno-Ugric shaman and this paper explores their practices as one branch of Eurasian shamanism running parallel to, albeit in a different time, the rites of the Phrygian goddess. Using extant literary and linguistic evidence, these initiatory cults long-assimilated into post-agricultural Mediterranean civilization are compared with the hallucinogen-wielding shaman of the Russian steppe, emphasizing them both as facets of a single prehistoric and pan-human magico-religious archetype.
On Meditations On Meditations (On Meditations) (…Probably On Meditations Too)
“Mercurius Terminimus and his chemical muse present a spiraling warp-drive mind trip of a revelation which expects that upon completion of this little libellus [of poetry], you will just go about your day like you hadn’t just been dragged through a volcano at the bottom of a holographic ocean on the moon. We would tell you this should be as widely disseminated as possible but we’re worried about it somehow fixing everything or making everything fall apart (these not being mutually exclusive of course), and then what would you do with your evenings? We’d be lying if we said we understood all of it, but we’d also feel we’d be lying if we said we didn’t. Every chapter a different voice. Or not. One never settles. Even if that means letting one get settled for just a bit before pulling the rug out. Or pushing the rug under. Maybe there won’t even be a rug. Or a floor. Or a reader. The only constant is change. If a book is written in the middle of the woods, and a tree falls on the author, does anybody give a shit? The possibilities are endless. But the point is that all at once is boring. We have everything, whenever, wherever, and it blows. People forget that the biggest reason roller coasters are exciting is the line. Keep em’ wanting more. That’s the trick. Just like X. They think want it. But they really just want to want it.” – R.H. 2016