Ars Notoria


Ars Notoria, the Notory Art of Solomon; A Medieval Treatise on Angelic Magic and the Art of Memory
Matthias Castle
Inner Traditions
ISBN 978-1-64411-527-5

Ars Notoria is a very old book that most Witches—regrettably—know very little about. This is truly unfortunate, because this text contains angelic elements, ritual prayers and magical figures (elaborately drawn symbols) that were profoundly influential on later grimoires, including the Key of Solomon—a book whose DNA runs throughout modern Witchcraft and Paganism.

Until recently, simply accessing the Ars Notoria was quite difficult. There are numerous manuscripts, but a critical Latin edition of the various versions was only published in 2004—a major milestone, but the text was nonetheless restricted only to those who read Latin. Students of that ancient language will also know that medieval grimoires pose a distinct set of challenges as well, since by the time of their writing, the Latin of Cicero and Caesar had long since transformed into the various Romance languages. The vocabulary of grimoires can be quite obscure and the various Medieval forms and regional dialects of European languages in turn exerted an influence on the Latin that their native speakers were writing. In the new translation published by Inner Traditions, Matthias Castle has for the first time translated the entire text in both A and B versions into English, rendering what was previously incomprehensible to many available to all readers of English. His translation balances faithfully representing the connotation of the Latin words with the need for clarity—the result is artful, accurate and highly readable.

While it may be of interest to scholars, Ars Notoria is far from being a museum piece. It is very much a useable book of magic. While the text itself remains eminently useful to students of grimoire magic, those less familiar with that tradition will be pleased to note that the first 200 pages of Castle’s book offer guidance for all magicians, experienced and aspiring alike. He presents a historical overview, extensive notes, an analysis of the included figures and reconstructed ritual procedures. The full-color illustrations and figures throughout the more than 800 pages make this book a beautiful investment that deserves a place on every occultist’s shelf.

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