There’s lots going on at the Undisclosed Location, so it’s a good thing that my latest book for review is so damn short.
Joe Peterson’s works are always excellent, and the Arbatel is no exception. Originally issued in Basel in 1575, this set of forty-nine aphorisms provide guidelines for one who wishes to become a magician through Christian means, along with thoughts on elementals and the sigils of seven Olympian, or planetary, spirits. Naturally, most of the occult community has reacted to this by grabbing the Olympian sigils and ignoring the rest, but that’s how it usually goes.
For the most part, magicians have had to satisfy themselves with Robert Turner’s occasionally inaccurate translation of the book into English. Peterson offers us both the Latin text and a new parallel English translation, along with occasional notes on the appearance of Scriptural passages and curious historical incidents. He also provides a lengthy introduction and an index.
Overall, the Arbatel is a fascinating piece of magical history, and a work that could very well serve as a founding document for an order of Christian magicians, if someone wanted to do such a thing.