So you think you “could write a book” Well, do it

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ARB at Hamilton Stage

Out of the Broom Closet.

Despite the marvels which confront us daily (smartphones, Kindles, Nooks and such), there is still nothing which quite compares to curling up with a good book, whether on the bus or the privacy of one’s home. For those of a magical bent, this delight will, as is so often the case with delight, lead to one’s living space being overrun with volumes of volumes. One solution to the clutter would be for you to condense and organize those things which are important to you into a copybook of one’s own. 

Carrying around something on which you have jotted down things of importance or interest has existed as long as writing. But you, gentle reader, are perhaps hoping to create something a bit more substantial. But what?

When working within one of the traditions which has developed out of the Western Wicca tradition, (or have paid attention to any of popular culture over the last several decades), you will have, or heard tell, of a Book of Shadows. When I was a kid, I liked the evocative quality of this name for one’s personal volume of spells and rituals. To be more precise, a Book of Shadows would be a compilation of a coven’s rituals, from which a copy would be made by an initiate.

Since Doreen Valiente did the lion’s share of the rewrites and additions to the original book Gerald Gardner flashed around (which was called “Ye Book of Ye Art Magical”, by the by), it would be more apt to claim that a B.O.S. is any handwritten copy of her ritual work, but that won’t happen. Nor does Book of Shadows, redolent of mystery as it is, have any particular age attached to it.

Ms. Valiente recalled that the nomenclature was taken from an article in “The Occult Observer”, May 1949, which discussed an Indian divination manual based on interpreting shadows, nothing to do with witchcraft survival in Europe at all.  So, if not Wiccan the name isn’t applicable.

Another name you might consider is Grimoire, meaning nothing more than a grammar or a book of instructions. This is generally applied to various magical texts which began circulating in Europe beginning in the 13th century C.E, all of which have a strong Judeo-Christian content. Unless you are, in fact, working within this system, you should probably reject this also. I suppose we are stuck with something along the lines of “My Book of Spells”, which will serve in most conversations; i.e, “What’s wrong Brad, you look down”.  “Oh, this job search hasn’t gone so well”. “Don’t worry; I’ll just look through my… Book of Spells, and put together a charm to attract a new position”. “Thanks”.

First, you need a blank book. So many attractive ones are available, choosing one shouldn’t be much of a problem. Keep in mind the purpose you will be putting it to; the pages should be large enough to accommodate an easy to read letter size (and if you are going to be reading out of it by fire or candlelight, go for an even larger page size). Unless this book is intended to be, in and of itself, a magical object, you don’t need a specially prepared ink. Waterproof would be best, and, if you have the inclination, a dip pen with indelible India ink would hold up best.

Content is entirely up to you. I would suggest you sit down and brush off those atrophied note-taking skills you honed in school, and decide what sort of information you want to always have close at hand. No sense in filling pages with astrological minutiae when you’re only going to work by Moon phases, after all. You might want to gather up scraps of paper, jot down pieces of information, and then shuffle them around on the table, so you can get a sense of how they fit together.

Leon Calafiore

Leon Calafiore

At some point, you will just have to jump in, and start writing. Don’t feel compelled to write straight through, and fill the page from edge to edge; leave margins and spaces between blocks of text. In time, you will fill them up with notes, observations, references, and there they’ll be, all in one place. Now, get to work! I’d love to hear about your progress.

Author Leon Caliafiore is a lifelong Wiccan and teacher of occult arts, is Past Master of a New York Masonic Lodge known for its ritual. Leon also conducts occult research.

 

Out of the Broom Closet.

Despite the marvels which confront us daily (smartphones, Kindles, Nooks and such), there is still nothing which quite compares to curling up with a good book, whether on the bus or the privacy of one’s home. For those of a magical bent, this delight will, as is so often the case with delight, lead to one’s living space being overrun with volumes of volumes. One solution to the clutter would be for you to condense and organize those things which are important to you into a copybook of one’s own.