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NewsThe Serpent Bites Its Tail: Publishing News and other Book Arts.



Picatrix Volume Two

Dear Friends,

I receive frequent inquiries regarding the status of volume two of the Picatrix and I am happy to report that the translation has finally been completed. This means that the book is now in the editorial stage of development and will move into production very soon.

Volume two contains the 3rd and 4th books of Ghayat Al-Hakim and will complete the English translation. It is a larger book than volume one and contains much in the way of the practical working of astral and talismanic magic. Planetary and Zodiacal magic and full instructions for invoking the related spirits are provided along with all the requisite materials needed; stones, plants, inks, colors, incenses, talismans and the invocations.

In addition to this are many anecdotes relating to Arabic and pre-Islamic magical lore, including the writings of Ibn Wahshija, the Nabateans, Sabians, Chaldeans and Assyrians. Of particular note is the magical plant and mineral lore from the Nabatean Agriculture, which portray ancient practices of pagan Iraq.

The influence of the Picatrix can be seen in several texts of well-known authors of the western esoteric tradition, including Ficino, Mirandola, Abano and Agrippa, whose works have played a major role of forming contemporary manifestations of the esoteric tradition today.

The contents of volume two follow:

Picatrix: Ghayat Al-Hakim
The Goal of the Wise
Ouroboros Press (c) 2007

Volume Two Contents

Book III

1. The Fortunes of Planets from Three Generating Origins

2. The Fortunes of Constellations

3. The Life of Planets, Their Shapes, their Incense, and their Garments. The Views of Constellations Which Influence Magic Work, the Characteristics of the Regions Tangential to the Planets, and the Characteristics of the Countries

4. The Secrets Known to Those Who Are Profoundly Versed in Science

5. Certain Excerpts of Animals’ Characteristics and How to Call Spirits with the Aid of Planetary Configurations

6. The Art of Calling Spirits Known as the Perfect Nature, According to Aristotle and Hermes, and the Meaning of Talismans and Its Appearance

7. Calling Planetary Forces by Rising Up and Exchanging Secret Conversations with Them and Sharing with Them the Effects of Actions by Using Words, Offering Sacrifices, Making Supplications, and Producing Incense, as well as by Using Astrological Ratios as Explained in the Sabian School of Thought

8. Glorifying the Astrological Potential of the Sun and Saturn and How to Secretly Converse with Them

9. Calling Planetary Forces Individually, the Spiritual Names of the Forces Placed Beside the Six Directions and Using Them in Accordance with Aristotle’s Instructions

10. Weaving Spiritual Magic and a Vehicle to Repel the Harmful Effects of Actions as Presented in Aristotle’s and Hermes’ works in Magical Talisman operations, by Using Foods, Incense, Perfume, and Ointment, and Decoding Their Effects from the One to Which They Were Attached

11. Different Magical Talismans Work for Different Purposes as Taken from Former Scientist Works in Imagination, Reversing Perception and Conjuring Various Images According to the Desired Purpose. Magical Talismans to Put One to Sleep, to Make Him Motionless, to Kill Him, and to Neutralize Poisons

12. Scientific Recommendations and Enigmas

Book IV

1. Extending Illumination from the First Cause to Effects Below It. Talking About the True Essence of the Physical and Metaphysical Realities, the True Essence of the Mind, Its Sections and Reality, as well as the Truth of the Inner Life and Its Reality

2. Calling the Spirits and Forces of the Moon When it is New and as it Enters the Constellation as it Spreads its Forces on Earth, According to Some Kurdish and Abyssinian Schools. The Seven Day Fasts in Accordance with an Indian School of Thought

3. Some of the Copts’ Concealed Secrets and Some of their Symbols in This Regard

4. Exploring Some of the Most Important Works and Enigmas by Prominent Adepts in this Craft to be Used in Preventing its Outcome

5. Specifying the Ten Sciences Which Produced These Two Conclusions

6. Making Planetary Incense and the Vehicles Needed for This Principle is One of the Most Practical Secrets of India

7. Abu Bakr Ibn Wahshija’s Translation of Nabatean Magical Works and Talismans

8. Effects of Things are a Function of Their Characteristics

9. Special Components of Charms Taken from Various Books, Followed by Recommendations


More information regarding volume one may be had by clicking on its cover on the right side of the navigation bar.

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Alchemical Presentation at the Stone

The Alchemical Bestiary
Alchemical Animal Symbolism in Renaissance Hermeticism.
Book Release: Turba Philosophorum
Ouroboros Press editor William J. Kiesel will give a talk on the enigmatic symbolism associated with the Animal Kingdom as employed in Alchemical texts during the Renaissance. Hermetic philosophers drew from mythological and biblical sources while depicting their alchemical emblems to explain the process of making the Philosopher’s Stone. Key symbols for interpretation will be discussed and accompanied by a slide show of alchemical imagery from rare books and manuscripts.
This presentation is given on the occasion of a new edition of the Turba Philosophorum, just released by Ouroboros Press. Copies of the book will be available for signing after the presentation.

8pm sharp Sunday 8 July 2007
The Stone [New York]
Located at the corner of Avenue C and 2nd Street.

[The Stone Website]

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Turba Philosophorum received from the printers

The image above shows the stacks of books ready to be handbound at the bindery of Ars Obscura in Seattle. Cloth copies showing the gilt device on the front cover can be seen below along with a copy wrapped in a dust jacket.

The Turba Philosophorum or Assembly of the Sages:
Called also the Book of Truth in the Art and the Third Pythagorical Synod
An Ancient Alchemical Treatise Translated from the Latin by Arthur Edward Waite.

Known unto the Wise as the Crowd of Philosophers, this twelfth century treatise records the meeting of the “Hermetic Association for the Advancement of Alchemy” and gives voice to the alchemical wisdom of several centuries. From Pythagoras to the Thrice-Greatest Hermes, the Adepts converse on the keys of the Royal Art and the nature of the Magnum Opus in their pursuit of the Philosopher’s Stone.

Arthur Edward Waite’s translation of The Turba Philosophorum remains the most complete to date due to the fact that he examined the many variant Latin manuscripts. There were two versions of the Turba; a short version and a long version, and in cases where textual differences occurred, Waite was sure to note them. This new edition has retained those important words of wisdom.

This Limited Edition produced by Ouroboros Press continues the tradition of fine bookmaking by resetting the type and offering three distinctive binding styles.

Royal Arte Vellum Turba
Handbound in full vellum with gilt titles and device, false-raised cords, marbled endsheets and silk ribbon bookmark. A crowning achievement from the studios of Ars Obscura Bookbinding. Octavo. 168 pages. Limited Edition. $225.00

Deluxe Leather Turba
Handbound in full burgundy leather with gilt titles and device, false-raised cords, marbled endsheets and a silk ribbon bookmark, also from the venerable studios of Ars Obscura Bookbinding. Octavo. 168 pages. Limited to 275 copies only. $150.00

Trade Edition Turba
Full burgundy cloth with gilt spine title and device on front board in a printed dust jacket. Octavo. 168 pages. Limited to 700 copies only. $45.00

Orders are now being accepted.

Shipping: Please add $6.00 for US orders or $12.00 for overseas orders.

When making payment via PayPal use [ouroboros@bookarts.org]

Please include full shipping details with your order. Thank you!

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The God of Socrates
by Lucius Apuleius

Originally published in 1993 as the final release from Heptangle Books [whose work we hold in very high regard].
These are among the last copies which have been handsewn and bound at the studios of ARS OBSCURA Bookbinding and are real jewels given the inexpensive asking price.

The Classical author of The Golden Asse, Lucius Apuleius, here delivers a tract of serious philosophy. This work puts forth the view of the nature of the Daemon prior the Judaeo-Christian corruption of that character to Demon. Herein is analysis of genius, Socrates representing the model.

“You may call this daemon in our tongue, according to interpretation, a Genius, I know not whether rightly, but certainly at my peril; because this God (or daemon), who in the mind of everyone, though it is immortal, nevertheless, it is after a certain manner generated with man; so that those prayers by which implore the Genius, and which we employ when we embrace the knees genua of those whom we supplicate, appear to me to testify our connexion and union …”

Handset letterpress printed and bound with antique bookpresses.
Small octavo, cloth bound with printed dust jacket.
Limited edition of 1000 copies only: $40.00

Ordering Information

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Tabula Smaragdina Hermetis

The Emerald Tablet of Hermes is the shortest and the most famous of all the Alchemical texts throughout the history of the Royal Art. Its influence on the practitioners of alchemy is evident in their writtings, art and laboratory processes as well. Ouroboros Press has employed the black art of letterpress by commissioning Heavenly Monkey to print this classic text on handmade paper utilising an antique printing press.

The paper, which was made specifically for this broadside, was wrought by the hands of Vancouver B.C. papermaker Reg Lissel. Our pressman, Rollin Milroy selected; Centaur, a significant and beautiful typeface designed by the American typedesigner Bruce Rogers. Printed in Red and Black, each letter handset, the broadside is also crowed by an Alchemical Emblem depicting aspects of the Magnum Opus. With ample 3 inch borders and quality workmanship this broadside is ready to frame and will be an asset to any library or laboratory.

Letterpress printed Emerald Tablet: $40.00 + postage [$8.00 in the US / $12.00 overseas].

Produced in the very limited quantity of 100 copies only [many were pre-sold]. We still have a few available, contact us if you would like to order one. ouroboros @ bookarts .org

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Heptameron and Arbatel of Magick

This grimoire is devoted to the angels of the seven days with diagrams of circles, magical sigils and conjurations of the ceremonial art. Magical images of the planets engraved by Bernhard Maler [1482] and tables showing correct planetary hours are included. The Arbatel offers seven sepentaries of aphorisms of a kind of Theophrastical Magic. The initial groups of these aphorisms serve to introduce the Ritual of the Olympic Spirits, dwelling in the firmament and in the stars of the firmament, between whom the government of the world is distributed. Two volumes bound as one.

Translated by Robert Turner

Small octavo. Black cloth with gilt title and woocut decorative initials and completely re-set in Renaissance Fell Types designed by Johnathan Hoefler. Limited Trade Edition $40.00 USD.

Also available in Full Imperial Vellum [$225.00] and Full Goatskin Leather [$175.00] inquiries may be sent to ouroboros @ bookarts . org

Ordering Information

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Picatrix: Ghayat Al-Hakim

The Goal of the Wise. The text of this Medieval work consists of the first two books of the classic Arabic manual of Astrological and Talismanic Magic. The Author has compiled information derived from 224 books by ‘ancient sages’ with the intention of uniting all these diverse arts into a practical system. Brought out of the obscurity of the Middle East it passed through the hands of many prominent figures throughout the history of Hermetic thought. Marsilio Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Peter de Abano & Cornelius Agrippa were among them.

Available in full black goat leather, Hand-bound with raised spine-bands and gilt titles, silk ribbon bookmark and marbled endsheets, from the fine binders at Ars Obscura Bookbinding.

Picatrix Volume Two now available for ordering!

Ordering Information

Volume One is Sold Out in all editions.

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Emblematic Presentation and Alchemical Music

Ouroboros Press publisher William J. Kiesel to give a presentation at The Stone.

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True Son of Hermes

Our compliments go out to Hermetick Artist Nigel Jackson for his continued illumination of the Hermetick Gnosis.
The Emblem Tradition is honoured by the excecution of sacred arcana by this True Son of Hermes. While his tome; Celestian Magic, remains an asset to the practicing *stellar wizard/ess* we would also like to point out his new title;

Fortuna’s Wheel: The Mysteries of Medieval Tarot

The expositions upon the 22 Keys of the Major Arcana express traditional iconography and show a masterful grasp of esoteric lore. Jackson has also provided a tarot timeline [1400 – 1800] that discusses playing card variants and regional influences. But the emblemata speak for themselves and fall squarely into the Royal Art of the Wise – the whole being a veritable ‘treasure house of images’.

Ingenuity and devotion to the Ageless Wisdom is manifest in Nigel – no new age ignoramus or puffer here.
It is refreshing that a contemporary and traditional magister is willing to share his works with the rest of the occult community. Check out his books – they are worth their weight in gold.

Nigel also makes talismanic images for Christopher Warnock’s comprehensive website: Renaissance Astrology where more information about this Artist-Mage may be had.

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Aurifontina Chymica

Aurifontina Chymica: A Collection of Treatises Concerning the First Matter of the Philosophers.

Festina Lente Alchemical Series
Release Date: 2009

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Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum

Corrected and Rectified Edition: A Treasure House of English Alchemical Poetry

Does Elias Ashmole need an introduction? Being a Hermetic Philosopher and Antiquarian, Ashmole’s literary eye recognized the richness of the royal art expressed in the poetry of English alchemists. His monumental Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum gathered together several of the finest examples of a flourishing alchemical tradition.

Ouroboros Press Corrected and Rectified Edition
The original edition of Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum was produced in London 1652 by J. Grismond for Nathaniel Brooke. The task of printing such a large tome [nearly 500 pages] was tremendous and required many laboring hands to set the lead type, cut the engravings and print the pages. While printing houses often had numerous sets of typefaces, it was often necessary to redistribute the type in order to have enough of the face to print subsequent pages. Inevitably mistakes would be discovered before the rest of the book was actually printed. Thus it was common practice at the time for the foreman of the presses to keep a record of the errors so that these could be printed at the end of the book in an effort at correction. This 17th century example of the errata sheet survived and forms the basis of the present edition.

The Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum is an important collection of Alchemical material which encompasses many authors of the Hermetic Tradition and deserves to be in print to this day. A useful facsimile edition was to be had back in the 70s and it was better than the cheaply produced photocopies of the same available in recent times, yet both fail to make corrections to the original printer’s typographical errors despite the errata clearly printed in the rear of the text. The Ouroboros Press edition of Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum is entirely reset in historical typefaces and features the Complete Corrected and Rectified Text.

This is Fine Esoteric Bookarts at its best. An edition Elias Ashmole himself would be proud of; A Treasure House of English Alchemical Poetry!

Festina Lente Alchemical Series
Release Date: 2011

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Festina Lente Alchemical Series

PLEASE NOTE: This page is in the process of revision and will be updated with more details in the near term. Thank you for your interest.

The Ouroboros Press release of Turba Philosophorum marked the beginning of a series of alchemical texts, which will continue to flow from the scriptorium here in the Emerald City. The series editor William J. Kiesel has selected these texts from among the corpus of alchemical and hermetic books which were in need of translation or simply unavailable to the public in recent decades. Two of the texts are penned by Count Michael Maier, who is perhaps best known for his Emblematic book; Atalanta Fugiens, while two others are collections by various authors. We are especially pleased to be producing a new corrected edition of Elias Ashmole’s magnum opus; Theatrum Chemicum Brittanicum, the classic text on English Alchemical Poetry.

Festina Lente Alchemical Series

Mutus LiberThe Silent Book

Anonymous Texts
Turba Philosophorum
Aurifontina ChymicaFourteen Treatises on the First Matter

Count Michael Maier
Jocus SeverusFirst English Translation by Darius Klein
Lusus SeriusWith a critical introduction by Leigh Penman

Elias Ashmole
Theatrum Chemicum Britannicum
Corrected & Rectified Edition: A Treasure House of English Alchemical Poetry

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Ordering Information

Thank you for your interest in our books.


Payment may be sent via Paypal [please use: ouroboros@bookarts.org].


We wrap our packages securely for safe shipping.

Domestic Shipping within the US is $6.00 for up to two books.

International Shipping is $12.00 for up to two books.

Broadsides are postpaid.

While delivery times are usually faster, PLEASE ALLOW 3-4 WEEKS FOR DELIVERY [4-6 weeks for hand bound titles]. If your order has not arrived by the prescribed time please feel free to contact us.

Trade Inquiries Welcome.

Thank you,

William J. Kiesel
Ouroboros Press

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About the Publisher

William J. Kiesel is the publisher and editor of Ouroboros Press which has been operating since the turn of the current century. His long years in the antiquarian and esoteric book trade gave him access to rare books and manuscripts not generally available to the public. William has cultivated a lifelong care of books and has involved himself in every aspect of bookmaking, from bookbinding and typography to handset letterpress. Today he works with translators of Arabic, Latin, and German to provide rare texts to the English speaking world.

William Kiesel is a member of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism. ESSWE Website

In addition to his work as a publisher and editor, William gives presentations on Alchemy and the Western Esoteric Tradition. His practical experience and historical knowledge of occult literature and culture spans two decades and draws from such diverse areas as Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, Qabalah, Thelema, Alchemy, Rosicrucianism, Theosophy, Near Eastern Esotericism and Ceremonial Magic. Esoteric symbol systems in religion, mythology and folklore are among his objects of continual study in historical and contemporary contexts. He is a natural teacher and good orator with the distinct talent of making the enigmas of esoteric symbolism clear to the curious.

A few presentations given in recent history:

-The Royal Art: Introduction to Alchemical Symbolism
-Atalanta Fugiens: Alchemical Music in Renaissance Hermeticism
-Iconography in the Western Esoteric Tradition
-The Alchemical Bestiary: Animal Symbolism in Renaissance Hermeticism
-The Circle of Arte: Magic Circles in European Grimoires

Listen to an interview with William on the Occult of Personality website or read an interview with him on Reading Local Seattle. Emily Pothast wrote a few kind words on her blog Translinguistic Other as well.

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Ouroboros Press