Medieval Grimoires - Arbatel Of Magic Or The Spiritual Wisdom Of The Ancients (254.0 Kb)

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A magical ritual published at Basle in 1575. The text is in Latin and appears to have been influenced by Paracelsus. It is of Christian, not Jewish, origin, and although the authorship is unknown, it is probably the work of an Italian. Only one of its nine volumes still exists: dealing with the institutions of magic, the work is entitled Isagoge, which means "essential or necessary instruction."The book introduces the ritual of the Olympic spirits who dwell in the air and among the stars and who govern the world. There are, ... More >>>
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Category 1:  Rituals and Rites
Category 2:  Grimoires and Manuscripts
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Author:      Medieval Grimoires
Format:      eBook
A magical ritual published at Basle in 1575. The text is in Latin and appears to have been influenced by Paracelsus. It is of Christian, not Jewish, origin, and although the authorship is unknown, it is probably the work of an Italian. Only one of its nine volumes still exists: dealing with the institutions of magic, the work is entitled Isagoge, which means "essential or necessary instruction."

The book introduces the ritual of the Olympic spirits who dwell in the air and among the stars and who govern the world. There are, we are told, 196 Olympic provinces in the universe: thus Aratron has 49 Bethor, 42 Phaleg 35 Och, 28 Hagith, 21 Ophiel, 14 and Phul, 7. Each of the Olympic spirits rules alternately for 490 years. They have natural sway over certain departments of the material world, but outside these departments they perform the same operations magically.

Thus Och, the ruler of solar affairs, presides over the preparation of gold naturally in the soil. At the same time, he presides magically over the preparation of that metal by means of alchemy. The Arbatel states that the sources of occult wisdom are to be found in God, spiritual essences, and corporeal creatures, as well as in nature, but also in the apostate spirits and in the ministers of punishment in Hell and the elementary spirits. The secrets of all magic reside in these, but magicians are born, not made, although they are assisted by contemplation and the love of God.

It is sufficient to describe the powers and offices of one of these spirits. Aratron governs those things that are ascribed astrologically to Saturn. He can convert any living thing into stone, can change coals into treasure, gives familiar spirits to men, and teaches alchemy, magic, medicine, and the secret of invisibility and long life. He should be invoked on a Saturday in the first hour of the day. The Arbatel was said to be one of the best authorities on spiritual essences and their powers and degrees.

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Detailed books of magic rituals and spells, often invoking spirit entities. The term derives from grammarye or grammar, as magic was in times past intimately connected to the correct usage of language. Several of the more important grimoires were attributed the wise biblical king Solomon, while others were said to be the work of other ancient notables.

Grimoires began to appear during medieval times, when Western society was controlled by the Roman Catholic church, and the early grimoires reflect the conflict with Catholicism's supernaturalism. The grimoires called upon spirits generally thought to be evil by the church and were thus often branded as instruments of black magic. Some grimoires directly challenged church authority. One book of black magic was attributed to a pope. In the last century, a new form of ceremonial magic that operates outside the Christian sphere has arisen. Grimoires have thus taken on the trappings of an alternative religious worldview that assumes a neutral position with regard to Christianity.

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, students of magic have tracked down many grimoires, some rare copies of which survived in the British Museum and the Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal in Paris, and made them available to the public. The Magus, published by Francis Barrett in London in 1801, stands as the fountainhead of these efforts. Barrett had access to a number of magic documents from which he took bits and pieces to construct a section of his book, which he titled The Cabala or The Secret Mysteries of Ceremonial Magic Illustrated. It includes not only instructions for working magic but also imaginative drawings of the various evil spirits he discusses. The Magus is important in being the first modern publication with sufficient instruction to actually attempt magic rituals.

The next major step in preserving grimoires came in the mid-nineteenth century with the writings of Eliphas Levi. His 1856 book, The Ritual of Transcendent Magic, enlarges upon Barrett's presentation and discusses several grimoires. In The History of Magic (1971) he includes a lengthy discussion of The Grimoire of Honorius (1629). Levi's books did much to create a revival of magic which then took embodiment in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the first modern group to create a whole system of ritual magic. As a result of the order's activities, several of its members took important steps in publishing grimoires.