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The Latin text known in the West as the Picatrix – a medieval translation, via Spanish, of the Arabic text Ghayat al-Ḥakim, which Arabic text has been dated as from around the year 1000 CE {1} – has received some attention in the last few decades by those interested in or claiming to be practitioners of Western Occultism, with a few English translations of the Latin text by such people available and with some of these versions stating that they are based on the scholarly version of the Latin text, edited by David Pingree, published in 1986 by the Warburg Institute. The problem with these modern translations based on the text of the Picatrix is of course that they are translations of a Latin medieval translation of a Spanish translation and thus are quite far removed from the original Arabic text.

The Picatrix itself is widely believed – by scholars – to have influenced and informed the European Renaissance, and a recent book titled Arabic Influences on Early Modern Occult Philosophy {2} places the Picatrix in the necessary historical context, referencing as it does works by and studies of figures such as Marsilio Ficino, Aristotle, Macrobius (who wrote Commentarii in Somnium Scipionis), and Al-Farabi.

In terms of modern Western Occultism, the Ghayat al-Ḥakim – the original Arabic text – and some other Arabic texts would seem to be the origin of the ‘grimoire’ and talismanic tradition predating as they do the much later Hebrewesque and Kabbalah influenced grimoires – with their Hebrewesque ‘demons’ – beloved by The Hermetic Order of The Golden Dawn, Aleister Crowley, Howard Stanton Levey, and by perhaps the majority of individuals claiming to be practitioners of Western Occultism.

            In contrast to this later Hebrewesque and Kabbalah influenced grimoire tradition, the Order of Nine Angles (ONA, O9A) have always claimed not only that their Occult tradition pre-dates such Hebrewesque and Kabbalah influenced Occult traditions but is also the original, the traditional, Western Occult tradition, melding as that original tradition did Greco-Roman pagan sources – for example, the Somnium Scipionis of Cicero, and the Corpus Hermeticum with its septenary anados {3} – with Arabic sources such as Al-Kitab Al-Alfak (The Book Of The Spheres) and which Arabic text was most probably influenced by, or derived from, the Ghayat al-Ḥakim.

The O9A have also claimed that the later Hebrewesque and Kabbalah influenced Occult tradition – with its ten-fold Otz Chim – is a distorted version of the earlier, Greco-Roman and pagan, septenary tradition. {4} {5}

That the O9A claims have scholarly, historical and Western pagan foundations should by now be obvious to those who have studied primary sources such as the Arabic text of the Ghayat al-Ḥakim, other Arabic works such as De Radiis Stellarum by Al-Kindi, {6} and Kitab Al Madkhal Al Kabir Fi’ilm Ahkam Al Noudjoum, {7} and who have also taken the trouble to read Myatt’s commentaries on the Corpus Hermeticum as well as O9A essays such as (i) Lapis Philosophicus, Isaac Newton, And The Septenary System and (ii) Azoth: Western Alchemy And The Seven Fold Way Of The Order Of Nine Angles. {8}

R. Parker
July 2018 ev
v.1.03

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{1} As of July 2018 ev, a digital edition of the Arabic text of Ghayat al-Ḥakim – published in 1933 in Germany – is available at http://catalogue.ulrls.lon.ac.uk/record=b2205045~S12

{2} Liana Saif, Arabic Influences on Early Modern Occult Philosophy, Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft and Magic, 2015, ISBN 978-1137399465.

{3} qv. David Myatt’s translation of and commentary on the Pymander text of the Corpus Hermeticum, available in his book Corpus Hermeticum: Eight Tractates. 2017. ISBN 978-1976452369

See also the O9A text Alchemical And Hermetic Antecedents Of The Seven Fold Way, available from https://omega9alpha.wordpress.com/ἀρρενόθηλυς/

{4} qv. O9A texts such as https://omega9alpha.wordpress.com/2013/12/25/originality-tradition-and-the-order-of-nine-angles/

{5} qv. the O9A compilation The Esoteric Hermeticism Of The O9A, available from https://omega9alpha.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/the-esoteric-hermeticism-of-the-order-of-nine-angles/

{6} According to some scholars this treatise by the Arab philosopher Al-Kindi influenced John Dee.

{7} A copy of the Arabic text is, as of July 2018 ev, available at https://archive.org/details/1H5Uuo

{8} The essays are included in The Esoteric Hermeticism Of The O9A.