Because of my well-known passion for all things spiritual and magickal, I have spent many hours, if not days, of my life browsing dusty shelves in used book stores, in search of books that can provide a lift for my soul and a jumpstart to higher understanding.

When I began to read Arbatel I was not aware of its ancient origins – originally written in Latin, the manuscript was published for the first time in 1575 in the town of Basel in Switzerland. Though the author of the manuscript remains unknown, much speculation is given to the fact that he was Italian. After perusing the book a little, I felt as if I had finally hit the jackpot.

While the introduction informs the reader about nine separate parts of the manuscript, subsequently divided in forty-nine aphorisms each, this edition only includes the first part, and the author makes it a point to explain that the other parts were probably never written. Regardless of what might, or might not, be missing, Arbatel is a jewel. Delightfully presented in both English and Latin, the text allows the reader to recite the prayers in the original language they were written in, while still being able to understand and absorb the profound teachings contained therein.

The book is also sprinkled throughout with beautiful seals and summoning rituals for lesser known and powerful celestial beings, presented in such a way that the reader can’t help but wonder about the possibility of an ever-fascinating pre-Sumerian influence.

While translations of the original text will surely continue to surface through time, I feel that Peterson has been able to capture the profound message contained in the book thanks to his meticulous rendition, and he has allowed modern readers to partake of a slice of wisdom miraculously preserved and still enormously valuable. Arbatel is most definitely a highly recommended read for anyone on a spiritual journey and for all who are interested in historical documents.

~review by Sandra Carrington-Smith

Author: Joseph Peterson

Nicholas-Hays,  2009

pp. 128, $35