Some books are more than just objects to be read. They are magical tools to be explored. Not only the magical lore contained within them, but the body of the book itself is imbued power during its conception and assemblage. A magician need only to carry such a book to be influenced by its protective and illuminating powers. Books created as talismans are enlivened through ritual processes utilizing planetary positions and other occult correspondences. Many medieval and early modern grimoires were carried as protective talismans, but conferring spiritual protection to the holder. Today, there are some occult publishers continuing this tradition of beautifully made magical literature; oftentimes sold in limited fine editions along with mass-produced paperback copies. The beautiful pieces from publishers like Xoanon, Scarlet Imprint, Ouroboros Press, and others are a testament to traditional book-making. Using both modern and traditional printing techniques, hard copies bound in leather with cover art inlaid in gold is often a unique feature of these books.
The timing preparation and process these books go through in publishing enliven them with a unique energy, setting them apart from mass produced copies solely for reading and studying the material. Such books have a spirit of their own. One exquisite example that I would like to point out is, “The Devil’s Dozen” by Gemma Gary published by Troy books. This is a perfect example of such a book. While not specifically talismanic; the time, effort and thought that has gone into this from its beginning stages creates an uncanny pull towards this tome. Sitting on a shelf in my study, it patiently waited for me to finish a couple of other books that I was reading. However, during this time I felt a strange pull from this book. It kept popping into my head, often distracting me from what I was reading. When I finally did begin reading it I realized more so the powerful nature such a book has, and its transformative ability.
Sometimes it is just a matter of finding the right book to inspire and reignite our passion for the search of knowledge.
The rites and rituals, of which there are thirteen, draw from traditional folklore and are written and devised by the author. It can be used by those who are new to the path who wish to dedicate and initiate themselves to the Crooked Way. It is also for those who currently tread the Path and desire to explore the Mysteries of the Old One in his guise of the Devil. It may also be used to reinforce one’s connection with their own practice through a re-affirmation of oaths to the Unseen.
For me, the physicality of this book, being the size of an adult hand, having the old style fell adds so much to the overall experience of its content. The small, unassuming size of such a powerful tome gives the impression that there is power in each page. Every word is carefully thought out, and there is no excess filler to increase its length. The voice of the author is practical and down to earth, without unnecessary embellishment. It reminds me of the feeling that I get when I hold one of my black books. I can feel the weight of the ink on the pages, and the power within the words. The collective energy of the magical lore combines to create a unique aura that is felt through the covers. That is how this book feels. The time and effort spent on bringing theses thirteen rites into manifestation fills this book with sprit, acting as a vessel for power.
Reading as Ritual
Reading a book like this can be a transformative initiatory experience. The thought process encouraged by reading Gary’s poetic prose awakens that occult curiosity within us that at times goes dormant. Mundane reality and its distractions can temporarily take away our sense of intrigue. Sometimes I lose interest or get burnt out, and it can be difficult to get that inspiration back. Books like this restore one’s sense of wonder and mystery, what brought us to magical study in the first place. There is still so much to be discovered, and magic is constantly evolving. I remember a kid, anything I could find online or in a book to read on witchcraft would bring me that sense of wonder. Over the years and lots of books later, my taste has become more discerning towards what I read. Every now and then I come across a book that gives me that feeling of genuine wonder and curiosity.
Another book that I hold to similar esteem is Veneficium: Magic, Witchcraft and the Poison Path, by Daniel A. Schulke and Three Hands Press. I coveted this book for some time before acquiring a copy. For me, it holds a similar certain sense of power and intrigue. Many esoteric publishers have continued a tradition of fine quality book binding using classical techniques. Many of these limited editions are well worth the high price paid on the second hand market once these books have sold out.