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How Grimoires Work
by Anthony North
A grimoire can be best described as an occult book of instruction. Describing systems for invoking demons, mastering divination and detailing magical spells, they are instruction manuals for gaining magical powers.
Becoming popular in the Middle Ages, the name comes from the Greek, ‘grammatikos’, meaning ‘relating to letters’. Associated, initially, with Jewish mysticism, such books are thought to go way back into antiquity.
Some grimoires have become classics.
These include ‘The Book of Sacred Magic’, thought to be written by Abramelin the Jew around 1450, and ‘The Greater Key of Solomon’, written in the 16th century.
It is through the grimoire that we know of the often ridiculous incantations and instructions that often accompany any magical ceremony or invocation. Indeed, they seem so ridiculous that they encourage scorn concerning the whole subject.
Is this ridicule valid? I don’t think it is.
Perhaps we should look beyond the words and instructions, and see what is really going on in such instruction. And the first point to be raised is the ‘leap of faith’.
This is an absolute knowing that a belief system is true. It ignores reason, and takes the believer to a oneness with whatever system is being believed in. And often, to ignore the rationality that says it is wrong requires you to accept what to others would be gibberish.
Hence, the ridiculousness of it all has rationality.
And this attitude continues into the spells themselves. For in order to carry out such irrational instructions, your beliefs have to be strengthened with every utterance or action. Hence, the very ‘stupidity’ of it all enhances your confidence that a result can be achieved.
Spells are also related to normal life. Most people, when they get up in a morning, carry out a specific number of tasks in a specific way, and in a specific order. We’re talking here about ablutions, breakfasting, etc. Most of the subsequent day may be very different, but we do seem to have a ‘routine’ first thing in the morning.
Now, what happens if, for some reason, this routine is disturbed?
You usually find that the rest of the day seems to be a catalogue of disaster, with nothing quite fitting where it should. In effect, we’ve had ‘one of those days’.
Now, is this the world going wrong, or is it more likely that your mind has been knocked out of equilibrium with the world? If so, then we can argue that your morning ‘routine’ is required to attune yourself with the day, thus allowing the day to go smoothly.
If we compare such a ‘system’ to the grimoire, then we can argue that the ridiculous magical spells actually impose a form of routine, in order to attune the adepts mind to the task in hand.
Some people will, of course, decide I’m being too skeptical, comparing ‘magic’ to ‘routine’, but I don’t think I am. It’s simply a matter of interpretation. For instance, soldiers often carry out the most miraculous tasks. Interestingly, military training also contains ridiculous instruction concerning drill, beasting, and much more.
It seems to me that a form of psychological ‘magic’ occurs through such ‘routines’, ordering the world around the person, and literally allowing them to ‘fly’. So perhaps the instructions in the grimoire are simply the more extreme version of the magical spells we all access in order to succeed in life.
"Sacred Activism is the fusion of the mystic's passion for God with the activist's passion for justice, creating a third fire, which is the burning sacred heart that longs to help, preserve, and nurture every living thing." - Andrew Harvey
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