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281 Karangahape Rd Auckland

Huginus à Barma

The Reign of Saturn Transformed into an Age of Gold


Translated from the Latin by Michael A. Putman. Edited and annotated by Aaron Cheak, PHD and Mirco A. Mannucci, PHD.

Pervaded by the ambience of the Roman Saturnalia—the great festival of inversion in which kings become slaves and slaves kings—the title of this work alludes to the radical transformation of the lowest into the highest and the highest into the lowest. Saturated with the metallic associations of Saturn with lead and royalty with gold, the Saturnalia not only provides a classical framework for transmutation, it also furnishes the basic fluidity between ‘above’ and ‘below’—the principle domain of Hermes-Mercurius, the alchemical divinity who straddles all dualities.

"In his Regna Saturnia, Huginus à Barma depicts the Hermetic Arcanum in such a way that he appears to have penetrated into the inner sanctum. Among other things, he says: Our mercury softens what is hard and hardens what is soft; fixes the volatile, and volatilises even the most fixed; renders living matter dead, and brings the dead to life through resuscitation; it is wet and it is dry. Whoever could render this subject to his will is without a doubt an heir of the Hermes of old."

—Olaus Borrichius, 1696

Composed in Moravia in 1649, and published in Paris in 1657, the Reign of Saturn emerged amidst the royal Hermeticists of the Holy Roman Empire. Bearing the distinct philosophical influence of Paracelsus, the Cosmopolitan, and the central salt manuscripts of Michael Sendivogius, this unique text is consecrated to the Aqua Sapientum—the Water of the Wise which ‘does not wet the hands’. This water, like the waters of creation and destruction which form the root of ancient cosmologies, underpins the philosophy and praxis of all alchemical transmutation.  


Translated into English for the very first time, this volume presents both the original Latin text together with an English translation in a handsome, dual-language edition. Alongside Michael Putman’s impeccable translation, it features a detailed historical introduction by Dr. Cheak exploring the baroque world of seventeenth-century alchemy, and copious annotations on Huginus’ text by Doctors Cheak and Mannucci, elucidating the work from a historical and practical standpoint.