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Arbatel: Concerning the Magic of Ancients Hardcover – July 17, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Arbatel, which first appeared in 1575, is often quoted and reprinted, both praised and condemned, its impact on western esoteric philosophy has been called "overwhelming." It's magic is full of wonder and free from the sinister elements usually associated with texts on the subject. But it is about more than magic; filled with gnomic wisdom, it urges us to help our neighbors, be positive and grateful, and use time wisely. Above all, it teaches us to pay attention, looking for the wondrous and miraculous.

About the Author

Joseph Peterson has translated many esoteric and religious sourceworks. He has amassed a large collection of copies of rare and occult tracts for comparative research from the British Library and other institutions, which he shares on his award-winning Web sites www.avesta.org and www.esotericarchives.com. Peterson's published works include The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, John Dee'sFive Books of Mystery, and The Lesser Key of Solomon.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Ibis (July 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0892541520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892541522
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,748 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joseph Peterson has been studying esoteric texts for decades, intrigued by the Renaissance intellectual and experimental approach to spirituality. After years of collecting and digitizing rare texts for his own research, in 1995 he created the avesta.org and esotericarchives.com websites to share them with a wider audience. They have enjoyed an amazing popularity, with over 3 million document requests per month. He has translated many religious and esoteric texts, and loves trying to unravel their often complex relationships and influences. Peterson has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota, where he also studied various languages and religions. He lives near Rochester Minnesota.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Thaumagnost on August 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like other texts of magic he has translated, Joseph Peterson has given us the definitive English translation of the Arbatel, superceding Robert Turner's dominant 1655 translation, and also taking it out of the shadows of the title of Pseudo-Agrippa's Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy under which Turner published it. A nice jacketed hardcover of this Turner translation and collection of magic texts is available from IBIS PRESS (the same publisher), introduced with commentary by Stephen Skinner. Although Peterson gives due respect to Turner's translation, saying it "has a wonderfully archaic feel," he corrects the few mistakes within it and restores the text's interesting use of capitalized words. He also provides the Latin text out of which the book was translated and maintains the capitalization and diacritics used in the 1575 Latin edition. Additionally, there are numerous informative footnotes throughout the introduction and translation. The Arbatel is not to be confused with the magic texts Ars Almadel from The Lesser Key of Solomon (the Lemegeton) and The Grimoire of Armadel, although as Peterson points out, the latter was one of numerous magic texts directly influenced by the Arbatel (Intro., pages xxx - xxxi).

In his over 20-page introduction, he covers not only the title and origins of the text, including the date, provenance, publisher, and probable author, but also the themes, editions, and influence of the book. Among the influences on the text, including those from the ancient esoteric currents of hermetism and Neoplatonism, the Bible and Paracelsus are prominent.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Arbatel: Concerning the Magic of the Ancients is the new edition of a classic text concerning angels and magic, and the first English translation since Turner's translation in 1655. Experienced translator Joseph H. Peterson offers a meticulously annotated text, of which each two-page spread features the original Latin on the left and the modern English rendition on the right. The result is an eminently accessible esoteric study, which teaches the reader how to seek the aid of angels in matters both spiritual and physical. Arbatel is also a classic injunction against superstition and the trickery and manipulative ways of evil forces. An extensive introduction, black-and-white illustrations, and an index round out this superb addition to metaphysical and occult studies shelves.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By J. Buterbaugh on August 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
With each new translation and hand written manuscript of ancient wisdom that made its way to Medieval Europe, the Holy Roman Empire slowly gave way to the Renaissance. Each manuscript must surely have been greeted with the excitement of a new era by some and the fear of the end by others.

In many ways we are fortunate to live in such times. Today several of the oldest manuscripts steeped in the wisdom of the ancients that have been locked away in old languages and library collections, are now making their way to us with the help of private book binders, antiquarian book sellers and digital archives. While the publication of such texts has recently been on the rise it is still a rare treat to have a classic text such as this be accompanied with all the benefits modern scholarship has to offer.

Joseph H. Peterson's Arbatel is such a work and a magical work in deed. With the charm of a munificent mage, Peterson has breathed life into yet another age-old text with the full skill set of a scholar allowing the text to speak in new ways. Arbatel's relation to ritual practices, arcane traditions and esoteric text are clearly described. The corrected text, presented in both Latin and Modern English, is richly footnoted, thoughtfully illustrated and ends with a remarkable bibliography that is current with the most recent scholarship.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By SupremeLogic on September 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I guess I mis-understood what this book was about. I was expecting lots of ancient esoteric, occult knowledge and magical methods. However I didn't get any of that. This book is basically a book on magical philosophy and conduct. Lessons I learned from it is that one must be born a MAGUS from the womb, ask God to send his angel to reveal the secrets to you. Keep the commandments of God and don't sin etc, and everything you want to know, along with all you want to do will be accomplished. Their is also lots of emphasis placed on not falling into the snares of the devil. But as usual Peterson presents the material well so my issue isn't with his translation.
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