THE GRIMOIRE


The Ancient Book of Forbidden Magic Text

One of the most important items you will ever create is your Grimoire, Book of Shadows or Journal if you prefer. This is where you should record everything associated with your journey; rituals, spells, thoughts, inspirations, and any other information you deem needful. It can be in any form you choose; 3-ring binder, journal, note book, computer file(!), etc...

Ok, lets introduce you to your MExample of what an Ancient Spellbook could look likeExample of what an Ancient Spellbook could look likeagic Book. Wicca practitioners use a Book of Shadows, but if you are here there is a chance you are looking for something other than the Wicca path. So what is a Grimoire?

What Is A Grimoire? Lets look at an official definition -

A Grimoire is a textbook of magic. It is a magic book, a life collection of spells, recipes, secrets of nature and sometimes even science, advice, ancient wisdom and instructions.

Such books typically include instructions on how to create magical objects like talismans and amulets, how to perform magical spells, charms and divination and also how to summon or invoke supernatural entities such as angels, spirits, and demons. In many cases, the books themselves are also believed to be imbued with magical powers, though in many cultures, other sacred texts that are not Grimoires, such as the Bible, have also been believed to have magical properties intrinsically; in this manner while all books on magic could be thought of as Grimoires, not all magical books could.

Many of these have been handed down through generations, others are created by new members to the Magic family researching old traditional methods of living and healing. Many of the contents of these books are simple traditional recipes using time honoured ingredients often referred to as complementary or alternative medicine.   


Book of Shadows or Grimoire?

Wiccan's use a Book Of Shadows. Witches use, well whatever works! Some call their book a Book of Shadows, Grimoire, Diary, Journal or many other names exist, just use whatever works best.  Do what feels right! There is no right or wrong way, you keep your book in a way and manner that works for you, and call it what you will!

A Book of Shadows or BoS contains everything you do, including observance, very much like a diary or journal etc. The Book of Shadows came into being with the invention of Wicca by Gerald Gardner. The book contains your views on your deities, information on the Sabbats, details of your coven's rules and practices if in one, it containing the core rituals, magical practices, magical and religious texts, ethics and philosophy of a Wiccan.

A Grimoire is more exact, being like an instruction book of information, a textbook. They contain very detailed instructional guides often with images, also included is the theory and practice of the witchcraft or magic it is explaining. It holds "recipes" for things like spells and invocations, performing divination, even instructions for invoking angels or demons. It can contain the symbols, protocol and invocations of the specific class of magic for either the Sorcerer, Necromancer or Witch.

For those like myself who are not Wicca and embrace the darker side of magic as well as the lighter side in equal parts, the modern Grimoire is probably the best option for magic book, keeping within the tradition of the ancient sorcerers, but within evolution of modern magic practices.

Remember that Wicca is not the only path, though in today's magic world it is very hard to find anything that is not influenced by Wicca or the rules and Rede it is bound by. You do not have to be evil to follow a darker path, witches like me study to understand more the dark arts as you can not deny its existence.

I use a Grimoire, that is MY way.

So I am using a book similar to a Book of Shadows but it still contains my entire life of being a Witch but its focus will be less predefined and will not contain such things as the Wicca Rede.

Remember, you do not need to call your book a Grimoire, you can if you wish call it A Book of Shadows or Your Book of Magic, or anything else you wish to name it. You could have two books, one on magic, and the other a spell book. You can have more, a separate book for Correspondences, Herb Lore etc. Remember that on this path magic there are no rules, there is your way, the way that feels right to you. Practice magic your way. In simple terms, a Grimoire is a book of Magic, or more precise, it is YOUR Book of Magic. Today the most common book of magic is called the Book of Shadows from the Wicca traditional path. For those who walk a different path, they may find a Grimoire more suited to their needs.

Where do you start? At the beginning! You need a Book!

SpellbookSpellbookThe Book

So you ask then what type of book? It can be any type of book that you want, it could be a notebook, a lever arch file, an A4 hardback book, or a handmade leather bound tome. at this point I would say that as this book is probably going to contain your life's work I would get something special. My Grimoire came from eBay. This will be used to store information you'll gather and need on your magical path.

Traditionally your journal would be handwritten, but in more modern times some now use a computer to store their information. There is no one general or definitive book for Witchcraft; each tradition may have its own standard book which can be added to or adapted by each individual or coven. Bear in mind that the Grimoire is considered a sacred tool, which means it is an item of power that should be protected with all of your other magical tools.

How you write your Grimoire is up to you but many believe that you should copy spells and rituals by hand – this will not only transfer energy between the book and the writer, but it also helps you to memorize the contents. Make sure you write legibly enough that you’ll be able to read your notes back at a later date!

I would also bring to your attention the writing implement you are going to use, I mean are you really going to use a biro? Maybe during this time it is a good chance to learn the basics of calligraphy and using ink pen. Think about what you're going to do and how you are going to do it. This comes back to the whole basis of witchcraft. Do nothing without first thinking about it. Think of this as a rule in everything that you will do, even down to how you are going to write out your Grimoire.

Contents

Next, what will your book contain? Basically it will contain all your magical workings, including spells, information, correspondences, deities, as well as detailed instructions of any magical practice you begin. Anything that you do would be placed in this book including how you did it, why you did it, the outcome, any changes made, and re-attempts of your work. It is like a diary, but this will contain all your thoughts, feelings and understandings of everything to do in your magical practice. It will also become your reference book, history and legacy of your life.

The book will contain beliefs, rituals, Witchcraft laws and ethics, herbal and healing lore, incarnations, chants, dances, spells, divinatory methods, and miscellaneous topics that a Witch learns during her life's journey. Some people prefer to keep their spells in a separate book or you can also keep them in one main Book. It’s easier to keep spells organized if you divide them up by purpose: prosperity, protection, healing, etc. With each spell you include, make sure you also leave room to include information on when the working was performed and what the outcome was. You can add whatever you want to your book. Writings, drawings, even examples of herbs etc. The way you put together your book should be totally personal to you. The power of magic comes from yourself, the book you write is an extension of you and your magic. It should flow, be a natural part of you. There is no right or wrong way.

Organising Your Grimoire

The biggest dilemma with any Book is how to keep it organized. You can use tabbed dividers, create an index at the back, or if you’re really super-organized, a table of contents in the front. As you study and learn more, you’ll have more information to include – this is why the three-ring binder is such a practical idea. Some people choose instead to use a simple bound notebook, and just add to the back of it as they discover new items. But, as with all things changes do occur; now days it is not uncommon for a copy of the magic book to be copied from a computer floppy disk. You may want to use one notebook for information copied from books or downloaded off the Internet, and another for original creations. Regardless, find the method that works best for you, and take good care of your Grimoire. After all, it’s a sacred object and should be treated accordingly.

It is up to you how you begin your book, they layout, and what goes in it. There are no hard and fast rules, just remember this book is yours and yours alone. It is not to be lent to anyone, shown to anyone or even held by anyone other than yourself. This book is will become totally attuned to you and you alone and allowing anyone else access to your Grimoire can affect the essence of the Grimoire.

Do not worry about making mistakes as once again these mistakes can be looked back on and understood to be your changing and understanding of magical matters. Do not think on perfection but more on accuracy and when compiling your book a mistake crossed out is better than an error left for this take of looks, especially as this book is for your eyes only.

Sections in this book can include reference to your deities, spells, rituals, dreaming, divination (both types and readings), herbs to name just a few. You can also add diagrams, pictures and other illustrations to complement your work. Always make sure that when completing work in your Grimoire that you add all relevant information in not only the practical side but also the emotional side as in why you did what you did, casting the spell or the ritual, the reasoning, your emotions, your thoughts as well as the outcome showing not only what you want to happen but also what did happen.

A Brief History of the Grimoire

In 1277, the Archbishop of Paris issued a condemnation of books, booklets or scrolls containing necromancy experiments of sorcery, invocation of Demons or Souls of the dead, in other words the Grimoire. Grimoire is French word used to describe a genre of books usually containing dark Magic spells and rituals. There is no English equivalent of the word Grimoire as it was a European book of text and it did not begin to be translated into English until well into the 19th century.

The most important facts about a Grimoire is they were illegal. These were not just magic books containing spells, invocations. Rituals etc, they contained what was classed as forbidden text of forbidden practices. In the Middle Ages you were not allowed to have any book of any sort containing any magical references at all. During the Inquisition's most caught with any type of magical book usually ended up being tortured and then burnt alive with the book at your feet as a reminder to what got you into this position in the first place. This was all so clear and visual warning to others. Even so, it is surprising how many were willing to risk their lives or even kill to get hold of these magical books.

The original ancient Grimoires were often written in script, code or even archaic text which few could read or understand. Some of these were even written in obscure or even rare mysterious languages. Because most people were illiterate at the time these books held even more mystery. These texts, even though they were classed as forbidden, dark or even evil, even in fragments, were very precious. Those who held these writings often shared them amongst others where the texts were copied and copied again by others and each time there were copied often there were slight variations made with each rewriting. some of the earliest scrolls and manuscripts were often written in several different languages at once. It is unknown whether these translations were accurate or even authentic. As so few could even read even basic writings. There was rarely anyway to authenticate anything that was written, especially with the fear of the Inquisition.

The Medieval Grimoires were the result of all these handwritten magical manuscripts, scrolls, and books. In truth, most of these were a mess, even though some believe they were based on genuine ancient magical texts, some were actually written to discredit many authors. Many were thought to be forgeries written to be sold on the black market because of the value of these ancient texts.

It wasn't until the 12th century that the Grimoires as we know them now began to appear. mostly the books were written in the code so only certain people with knowledge could understand what they were really saying. There was rarely any author named. As the books were written by hand copying old ones, it was done at great risk by the people doing the writing. over the centuries many names have been attributed as authors to these books but that's the dead and dead men can't tell lies or be prosecuted, it is unsure whether any of these names associated with the writings were true. some of these famous names include King Solomon, Albertus Magnus, and some occult masters. If they actually did write or contribute to these Grimoires is uncertain, but either way there is no way to make a definite conclusion. The only thing that can be said is usually there is some truth somewhere in ancient myth.

Because of the fear of the Inquisition, even from the danger of being in possession of one of these Grimoires or manuscripts, it seems that every time they are always "found" in old trunks, or under floorboards, behind walls or even just handed to somebody by a stranger walking past. Is this true? A lot may be because of the nature of the subject, and the threat of the Inquisition, no one wanted to own up to having a real connection to the item. There is an element in truth as most of these documents would have been hidden often in places where they were reputed to have been found by others. So maybe there is a little truth in this.

Medieval Grimoires were not usually books on normal magic but instead contained the thoughts, needs and desires of either the writer or the intended reader of the text. As these were predominantly designed for educated sorcerers usually expert with theology, they tended to include spells and rituals from many different genres and schools of magic. The subject of these ancient manuscripts often included such things as Egyptian magic and mythology, Jewish myths and practices including the Kabbalah, Roman Catholic rituals, including exorcism, alchemy, and pagan texts, including those from Greece, Rome, Byzantium, and other pre-Christian civilizations. The content of most of these ancient Grimoires tended to comprise of high ritual magic narrowed down to the art of summoning. By the use of lengthy and complex rituals the sorcerers attempted to summon spiritual beings to command them as slaves and often perform tasks instructed to them by their master.

The summoning usually consisted of three parts. Part one entails the use of lengthy complex lengthy ritual to summon a spirit or more commonly, a Demon under your control. The next part consisted of being able to hold the spirit or Demon in your command and for it obey you. Finally, you must be able to banish the summoning safely.

The Grimoire itself usually began with an introduction of the person who wrote it, where they wrote it with information about why and what it contains. More often than not, there was a lot of embellishment in the past of the writer, both in power, skill and reputation. They are often contained tales of travel to such places as Egypt's, India and other far-off lands.

During the time of the witch hunts, the invention of the printing press made it possible for these texts to be more accessible due to the speed and ease of copying. They began to be printed and circulated still in secret as they were still illegal, the death penalty the end result for anyone found in possession of one of these books.

Grimoires tended to be very male orientated, for personal satisfaction and power. Anyone today who reads a Medieval Grimoire will find it's not a true representation of modern witchcraft or practices, in fact, those who follow the Wicca path would be shocked. Many of these ancient manuscripts containing animal cruelty, references to theft, rape and even murder. But this is true of many old magical documents, especially those from ancient Alexandria. These were often rooted in a selfish desire to control women and gain power in a ruthless manner that was common in the day.

Below is a list of some of the most famous Grimoires:

Aradia or the Gospel of the Witches

The Key of Solomon or Clavicula Salamonis

The Lemegeton

the Sacred Book of Abramelin the Mage.

The Secret of Secrets or True Black Magic

 


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