Friday, August 31, 2012

A Pagan Grimoire

Development notes for a Book of the Court of Brigid.
Part 1: Grimoire Lust
Like most occultists, I love books. Obviously, this is not a modern thing, this love affair between magicians and tomes, volumes, even scrolls. We hear of books of spells and rituals kept by Orphic mystagogues hundreds of years BC. We see written rolls of spells in Egyptian graves from well before that. By the end of the classical era occult practices are being gathered into what will be remembered as the Grecian Magical Papyri. It is no coincidence that gods of magic are almost always gods of letters and books, at least in literate cultures.

My own fascination with magical books (not just books about magic) goes back to my earliest reading. Whether it was the Book of the Vishanti, The Necronomicon or the Key of Solomon (as imagined…) my early enchantment with the milieu of occultism always included the Magician’s Book. My first personal spellbook was crudely bound using flour-paste and lots of it, but it lasted long enough to fill some 200 pages with a quill-style dip pen over my first years of self-invented apprenticeship. I probably filled two more blank books with copied material mixed with occasional originals, until I finished a coven Book of Shadows in the mid-80s.

That first Book. Been through a lot...

Then I discovered typesetting. ‘Cold’ type – strips of photo-paper developed with columns of what we now recognize as computer type – was becoming more accessible, initially because I had friends doing it. I was able to produce a first edition of the Book of the Dragon fully typeset back when most Pagan micro-press was still being produced on a Selectric.

Desk-top publishing took a while to reach my household, though, and I went the other direction and published the pre-initiatory material for our coven as The Portal Book (this is a later typeset edition) all prepared in my own handwriting, illustrated by myself. Thanks to a couple of fans that got some fairly wide distribution in the late 80s and early 90s.
pages from my first Book of Secrets,
in a 16-year old's hand.

Once I had desktop publishing capacity at home, starting in about 1996, I never looked back. I’m afraid that the days of handwritten spellbooks were, at that point, done. The truth is, my typing is, to this day, far from automatic. It certainly requires as much of my attention to type up a ritual then set it readably for a pamphlet as it ever did to hand-write such a thing.

The advent of on-demand publishing has allowed me to make one-off personal spellbooks that just push my buttons. I can now get attractively – even occult-ly – typeset hardbound versions of the rituals I use in solid hardbound books, for a few tens of dollars. Out of this, I have enjoyed the hell.

Part 2: Self-Publishing and Modern Occult Vanities
Evidence of mild mania.
Some of my one-off personal
Thanks to on-demand publishing I have been skipping the middleman and managing my own micro-press output. Because I typeset my own stuff I get total totalitarian totality of control, and a solid percentage of every sale. For that I sacrifice wide distribution. Because I had a back-log of small titles ready to go when I launched I have been able to keep a modest stream of sales (thanks to all…) that allows me to buy other people’s occult books.

A few years ago (about when el bloggo began) I made a decision to spend a few dollars on occult books that were both good hardbound editions and material I actually wanted to read. Fortunately this has been a good season for that. I’ve been very happy with the content quality of much of what is offered, though far from all. After a couple of less-than-satisfactory buys I found myself resenting paying nearly a dollar per page for the stuff.

On the topic of ‘vanity’ press, I suppose the difference between on-demand and vanity is just how much money one’s vanity is willing to risk on one’s little manuscript. Nobody produces foil-stamped cloth-bound books on demand. One must invest the purchase price of the print-run, and get the boxes of books delivered.

However, my own combination of vanity and grimoire lust is making me wanna do one. I wanna… And I have this manuscript.

Having spent a little time shopping for a short-run (say, a nicely symbolic eighty-one or hundred-and-eight copies) in smythe-sewn blocks with some stamping, I find that the vanity prices that had been irking me are probably pretty fair. In order to have any sensible markup my 125 page book would have to retail for $80 or above.

So, my forthcoming thing just isn’t major enough for that, I think. When I do such a thing, and I almost certainly will, it will be for some core text that frames up a how-to of Druidic sorcery, not a side issue, no matter how interesting. I’ve actually been editing such a thing together, but it will wait a while.

That leaves me choosing between various cheaper publishing routes for the item below. Really, In the end I think it will just be a lulu hardback. The good news is that I hope to make available sets of talismans and support items through The Magical Druid

Part 3: The Grimoire of the Court of Brigid
It’s nearly done. I must make a couple of editorial choices, and probably write a few thousand introductory and explanatory words. Here’s a shot at one of those ‘immodest promo pieces’ that have to be done:

The Court of Brigid
The core of Pagan magic and religion is contact with the spirits, from the mightiest Gods and Goddesses to the most common local herb-wight. Western magical arts have preserved ancient, reliable methods by which spirits can be contacted and their aid gained for both spiritual growth and practical success. Because these arts have been preserved in the rites of ceremonial magic and the grimoires they have often been ignored by modern Pagan magicians. Now Ian Corrigan has taken the outline and structure of classical spirit-arte and applied it to a polytheistic, nature-based worldview.

The Grimoire of the Court of Brigid is a suite of rituals that allow the magician to gain the aid of one of the most beloved of the Celtic deities – Brigid the High One, Goddess of Fire and Water, Lady of Skills and Inspiration, Keeper of the Good Hearth. With Her blessing the magician then calls and treats with a variety of spirits of her court. By making alliances with those spirits the magician is able to do a variety of more casual magical works, or spells.

The method of this grimoire combines traditional hierarchical evocation with a reverent and benign approach to the spirits. They are convoked in friendship and alliance, with proper offerings for each. There is no element of coercion or threat, and no discussion of ‘angels’ or ‘demons’. The spirits serve the Goddess and, by her blessing, they serve us. In this way the magic of the Court is placed firmly within the rites of Pagan religion.

The Court of Brigid provides a full system of ritual work, from the creation of the proper Druidic sacrifice Ground to the Three Rites by which the alliances are made, to spells and boon-rites for specific goals. Also included is the full text of the group rite that was the basis of the work. The names, powers and sigils of twenty-eight spirits are presented. These spirits showed themselves to our seers at one of two rites performed over the past year.

The work of the Court of Brigid is unique in current occult publishing – a system of formal evocation based firmly in a polytheistic (not to mention Celtic) context. Let the Fire of Offering be lit, and the spirits come to our call!

Coming for Fall Equinox.

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