Picatrix: A Medieval Treatise on Astral Magic
“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 1986. . . . 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.”
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.