Alchemical books inhabit a subcategory of books on the occult — books on magic, books on astrology, books on witchcraft, metaphysics and alternative-belief systems, including hermeticism, a world view based on Greek and Egyptian writings. Books embedded with double meanings, puzzles, rebuses. Books believed by some to be talismanic objects with their own power.
William Kiesel of Seattle has poured his love of antique and rare books into Ouroboros Press, ” which specializes in new, high-quality editions of old and occult books (the word ouroboros refers to an ancient symbol for reincarnation and renewal; that of a snake swallowing its tail).”
He has also helped organize the third annual Esoteric Book Conference, to be held in Seattle September 10-11.
Thanks to “The Da Vinci Code” and the Harry Potter books, the 21st century has been reintroduced to ancient signs, symbols and magical practices. (Kiesel gives J.K. Rowling credit for “doing her homework.”) Hard-core enthusiasts for the original material are thinner on the ground — last year’s conference drew 120 ticket buyers. But they came from all over. This year, collectors and exhibitors will travel from as far afield as New Zealand to attend.