EXCERPTS by OKKULT Motion Pictures: a collection of GIFs excerpted from out-of-copyright/historical/rare/controversial moving images. A digital curation project for the diffusion of open knowledge. >|<
Our interactions with culture are warped and stunted by the pro-corporate abomination that is our current intellectual property law. What was originally envisioned as a temporary exclusivity to encourage creation has become a denial of our basic nature as storytellers. We absorb, we alter, we retell. This is what it is to be human.
We don’t live in reality, we live in stories and narratives. If it were otherwise then we wouldn’t need the scientific method to clarify what is real and what is our perception. Nor do we create in a vacuum. Everything we make is a product not only of individual effort but thousands if not millions of influences from our contemporaries and those that came before. We often do not recognize these influences. A snippet of bass line or a turn of phrase or a visual snippet can lay dormant in your memory so long that you assume it came from from you.
It is the way we are. We take from the zeitgeist and history so that we may give again to the zeitgeist and history.
From the standpoint of the IP holder, especially the corporate IP holder, fan fiction, covers, remixes, mashups and reinterpretations are criminal acts rather than the natural way that humans interact with culture. In essence, the corporations, through copyright extension, work-for-hire and corporate ownership, have been stealing our culture and our myths from us so they can sell them back. The system doesn’t protect artists as it was intended to and the corporate owners of our culture are sometimes good stewards but are often terrible ones.
We are creatures of the public domain and fair use.
The World of Grimoires, Part II: Choose Your Weapons!
If you’re going to have your very own grimoire, you’ve got to start with some raw materials. These will vary depending on what style of grimoire you have in mind, how you’d like to organize, and what you want it to look like.
Many, many witches over the years have told me the held off on beginning a grimoire until they could find “just the right book” to write it in and just the right tools to write with. Nine times out of ten, the most coveted blank books for grimoires are giant leather (or faux-leather) tomes that resemble something you’d see in a fantasy novel about witches.
Many also want to write in these books with quill pens dipped in magical scented ink, another old-fashioned technique normally seen nowadays in fantasy fiction. I’ll admit that I longed for such things myself when I was just starting my first grimoire, and have felt pangs of wonderment at the thought of owning them many times sense.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting that sort of setup, but anyone will tell you that it’s a bit impractical. Giant leather tomes are expensive and easy ruined by stray splotches of ink. Quill pens are difficult to work with at first, and require much practice to use correctly. Magical scented ink is nice, but can, again, be pricy, even if you make your own.
This is compounded by the fact that many new and experienced witches (including myself at times) have a sort of neatness obsession when it comes to their grimoire, wanting it to be perfect from the start and forever, with not a single splotch of ink out of place.
It often seems that, the nicer and more expensive the notebook or journal, the more perfect and neat we’d like it to be. Given how easy it is to completely ruin a new and expensive leather journal if you’re slinging around magical scented ink from a brand-new quill pen, you can see how this problem snowballs into quite a conundrum.
I won’t tell anyone not to buy an eldritch-looking leather-bound journal if they want, but I will say this: expect imperfections, especially in your very first grimoire. You’ll be getting your feet wet with the concept and are bound to make plenty of mistakes.
Regardless of what notebook or journal you get (if any), make sure it’s something you’re comfortable making mistakes in. It’s pretty horrible to see someone get a nice notebook, spill some ink or rip a page, and shelve the entire thing, afraid to touch it again.
A far better option than a very expensive blank book would be a moderately-priced undated journal such as a Moleskine or other more elaborate creations.I’ve made it no secret which publisher of blank journals I prefer, and have written at length about why I tend to choose Peter Pauper Press journals. These undeniably won’t please everyone, though, and there are many other publishers creating beautiful blank journals.
If you choose something like that, don’t buy it for appearance alone - consider if it’s well-made and will stand the test of time. One thing I always check is that the price sticker is removable and doesn’t leave much residue on the cover. Not everyone will care about this, but I find it neater that way.
I do recommend checking to see if the paper is of good quality. Cheap paper can lead to pens bleeding through, doesn’t handle markers and other decorating tools well, and can overall ruin your grimoire. I’m not saying you need extremely expensive high-quality paper, but just check to make sure it’s thick enough not to experience bleed-through.
Many witches prefer a more utilitarian approach, out of necessity or other concerns. This can involve a wide range of materials, and is often quite a bit more discreet than a giant leather book and quill pen. This is advantageous for those who’d rather not attract unnecessary attention to their practices. In truth, a grimoire can look like whatever you want, provided it gets the job done, and this includes appearing completely ordinary, like a normal notebook where you’d find a shopping list or accounting information.
Some are fine using a simple spiral-bound notebook available at any dollar store as their grimoire. If discretion is the most pressing concern, a normal college rule notebook is likely the best bet, but I caution against buying something poorly-made or with very thin paper, especially if you plan on decorating the inside later on.
Another option would be a packet of binder paper and a three-ring binder with tabs. You can create sections in the binder according to subject or whatever other organizational feature you might want to use. A binder has the advantage of being easily reorganized, removing and adding pages when necessary to create the grimoire’s intended structure.
If you want this feature, but still crave an old-fashioned leather-ish look, some suppliers online sell elaborately-decorated binders to suit that aesthetic. Another option is to buy good-quality printer paper and a hole punch. Then, you can actually print digital grimoire pages from your computer and insert them into your binder. If you have a particularly good printer, you can even add elaborate images and colorful decorations with clipart, public domain paintings, and other available artwork. You can even make your own in Photoshop or another program.
Printing a grimoire is a great option that plenty of witches use, but just as many prefer to keep their grimoire wholly digital, existing only on the computer itself. If you struggle with handwriting or are simply more comfortable typing, either of these are wonderful ideas.
For a wholly-digital grimoire, I recommend an app like Google Docs, and I also recommend that you separate each entry or section into its own file, and organize them into folders for easy sorting. Google Docs has the advantage of being accessible from almost anywhere.
Another idea would be to purchase a small but high-volume USB drive to contain your grimoire. Some shops even sell rather beautiful USB drives that can be worn as jewelry. I personally know a technowitch who chose this route, and now keeps their grimoire in a small USB locket around their neck.
Increasingly, some witches are using blog sites such as Tumblr to create digital grimoires. If you go this route, be sure that the site you choose has an option to password protect your blog or, if not, that you’re comfortable sharing everything you’ll be writing there with the world.
Open grimoire blogs are quite an amazing and useful trend to have developed recently, particularly on sites where it’s easy to share content, like Tumblr’s reblogging system. These are great because they allow for you to quickly consolidate information provided by others into a sort of digital scrapbook that can be studied later or as needed.
If you create an open grimoire blog, please give credit where credit is due in everything you post. If you copy an incantation from a book, cite the book and author. If you include content (such as spells and rituals) made by other witches online, be sure they’re okay with their work being included in your grimoire.
And, give them the courtesy of linking back to their site when you post it. After all, you’d want them to do the same for you, and, truth be told, you can get into legal trouble for plagiarism. It’s rare, but it can happen, so it’s best to be honest, ask bloggers for their permission if necessary, and always credit them.
One of the advantages of a digital grimoire is that it’s quite easy to add images, and there are many beautiful public domain works of art you can use to illustrate your entries. If you’re good with Photoshop or a similar program, you can also create your own images there, too. If you have any skill with HTML/CSS3 at all, or are just good at copying and pasting, you can style the overall layout of your digital blog grimoire to your heart’s content, as well, using custom theming options available for most blog platforms.
I Have a Pen…
Last but not least, it’s important to consider the writing utensil you’ll be using for your grimoire. You needn’t have one specifically dedicated to that purpose unless you want, but you want to choose a pen that flows nicely, is legible, and doesn’t splotch the pages. For many, a simple ballpoint will do, but I tend to prefer felt tip or fountain pens, myself. If you decide to dedicate a certain pen just for your grimoire, you’ll probably want one that’s refillable and not meant to be just tossed after the ink runs out.
If you’re interested in custom inks (including magical scented inks!), investing in a fountain pen could be a good decision. These pens are easy to use and leave your grimoire with lines similar to what you’d get from a quill pen. Look for one that specifies it comes with a “converter;” this is a small gizmo which will allow you to fill the pen with custom ink, including colors you could mix yourself.
You can purchase scented inks, including stock formulas like Dove’s Blood Ink, from many metaphysical shops. You can even try mixing your own! Many websites and books give instructions for doing so, and I in particular recommend the ink formulas described in Scott Cunningham’s book, The Complete Book of Incense, Oils, and Brews. Make sure whatever ink you’re getting doesn’t bleed through the paper.
Beyond pens, what else might you need? If you plan on illustrating your grimoire, art supplies are a must. If you’re already an artist, you probably have your favored medium on-hand already, but if not, I suggest researching various illustration tools and choosing the one best fitting your personal aesthetic.
Keep practicality in mind, though. I, for example, adore watercolor, but rarely use it in my grimoires because it causes the pages to curl. Instead, I use soft pastels to illustrate over and around what I’ve already written. I’ve only just recently started illustrating the pages at all - all of my previous grimoires stretching back to high school were strictly writing with an occasional diagram.
While I’m not much of an artist, I do find it very soothing to add color to the pages of my grimoire, and the pastels blend to the point where they leave my writing visible beneath them. It’s a bit like a coloring book, but with no lines to worry about, just endless gradients of relaxing colors. This is great for me, as I often need to de-stress and do something fun after I’ve finished studying or writing for the day.
I’ll sometimes draw small illustrations, but they’re quite simple so far. As I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I have dyskinesia and my hands shake sometimes, making fine motions difficult. Still, I hope to learn more about art techniques in the future as I work further on these grimoires, and make them more adorned and beautiful as time goes on.
If you’re unsure what art medium is right for you, I suggest researching and, if possible, trying several. There are also a lot of resources for choosing markers, colored pencils, watercolors and other supplies to be found, oddly enough, on sites about bullet journaling. Bullet journaling, while normally quite simple, does often involve illustration, so the “bujo” crowd is knowledgeable about such things.