For Witchcraft, in all its forms, to be a religion without scripture, interestingly we owe the rapid spread of the Craft to the written word. Partially this is because early on, and in many areas still, there is not another means of learning. There is a deeper pull though; books are magick. Not only are they a direct link and means of tapping into an author created reservoir of information but also the books themselves will develop an egregore.
The written word is just that. Script is nothing more than words that stay, because of this, words that were thought of in the author’s mind previously, thousands of years in some cases, are given form and transcend the moment of their creation into the minds of future readers. Here is where a magical link is formed. From the chaos of the author’s mind, the words are birthed forth as the Mother, and the author acting in the role of the Father is the force that gives form to which was born, thusly written. The resulting book then forms from the same seed of thought that the author had, when it is read by another. Every time that a book is read, the same occurs, but new thoughts are spun by the audience, and these add themselves to the link. Collectively all of these thoughts build a magical pool within that group mind. So as I said, books are magick. I do not find it surprising that magickally inclined people are drawn to such powerful catalysts of magick.
So I don’t have a term for ‘book magic’ or the use of books as a method of magickal workings. I am sure there is one, and if anyone knows it please comment and make it known. Until I find an actual term for it I will be using Bibliourgy as my solution. It is a combination of Theurgy and Bibliomancy. Theurgy is the study of magick, more specifically the study of ritual magick. The Greek, “urgy” means, “making.” Bibliomancy is the use of books as a means of divination. The Greek, “biblio” means, “book.” I, however, am not an expert in Greek, so I might have just made up some gibberish. Anyway, as it may have been guessed, I am blogging about Bibliourgic methods and theory, but just a bit.
Books have long been used as a method of divination by magickal practitioners. This is particularly true when it comes to using scripture to accomplish this. Since scripture is authoritative and divine in nature by those that attribute it as such, then by adding a methodology of questioning and randomly selecting a passage, the Divine Will relating to those circumstances is suppose to be revealed. There are various methods that exist across the spectrum of religions. The Bible, I Ching, Quran, even the Greek Iliad, and many more have all been used.
The method of Bibliomancy that I am most familiar with comes from Southern Conjure, and makes use of the Psalms from the Bible. All one needs to do is to sit quietly, holding the Bible, while reflecting upon the topic of the question. After a few moments, the question is asked, and the Bible randomly opened, within the Book of Psalms. With eyes closed, place the finger on the open page.
Sometimes magickal practitioners will tie a Geis to a book. A Geis (geasa being plural) comes from the ancient Irish. It is when a taboo has been specifically been placed against or upon an individual, the breaking of which will bring about dire consequences. It is a fairly common practice for Witches to write in the opening pages of their grimoires a threat or hexing words against prying eyes. This is a form of booby trap hexing that the author ties into their concept of the book and it is passed via the link created, to the reader, when it is read. Does it work or not? The simple and complex answer is, “yes and no”. This copy of the Book of the Law, has a geis written in it that is suppose to activate against anyone that reads it twice. Likewise, this book on magick written by Isaac Bonewits has a geis in the front that would activate in the case someone uses the information in the book for harm. So do these geis work or not? Yes and no, but it is even more complex now because the number of minds involved just increased a whole lot. The more people involved in the receipt of a geis, the more energy that must be spread throughout, so unless others beyond the author are adding to the initial form, then the likelihood of success diminishes.
Sometimes books are specifically written as a form of magick. The Cultus Sabbti is famous within the Traditional Witchcraft community for the creation of a small number of grimoires that are magicaklly programmed to draw like minded individuals to the book. Sometimes it is successful and sometimes it is not. Sadly, because of the rarity of their books, they are often sought out by profiteers, hoping to make a profit on resale, in addition to those that are legitimately drawn to the knowledge therein.
As mentioned, books transmit information. The writing of a book itself is an initiatory experience that the author undergoes. This, however, can and often is expanded to others. Within BTW, the newly initiated Witch hand copies the Tradition’s Book of Shadows (BoS). During this process, they are told oral lore that is not written, and they in this act of writing by hand, connect themselves with every Initiate that has done the same. They are further immersed into the energy of that Tradition’s egregore, amongst other things.
Hand written books can also be used as a method of giving offerings to one’s God or Goddess. Imagine the hours spent hand copying an entire text, pouring one’s time and energy into the effort; to only then proclaim before your Deity that it was in honor of them, and to toss the manuscript upon a fire. All of that energy is sacrificed.
So what methods of Bibliourgy have you encountered?
"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."