Like any competent occultist, magician, sorcerer, or witch, I keep notes, and plenty of them. I know of at least five notebooks I keep for records, results, divinations, ritual setups, and so forth, and at least as many binders to keep track of texts, lamens, and the like. It’s efficient, in some ways; I’ve heard a term used by artists and messy officemates, “organized chaos”, that bears some resemblance to my method. Granted that the most important of one’s rituals and notes should be committed to memory, it’s good to have a backup material copy on hand.
Among the most important of these books of mine is my personal vademecum, the Latin term for enchiridion, the Greek term for handbook. Pagans might better know it as a Book of Shadows, but it’s the same thing: a collection of prayers, rituals, recipes, and symbols I keep track of for easy and quick reference. Since I started the Work, I’ve gotten about a third of the way into this book (a fancy lined Moleskine journal, because I’m fancy like that), and often find new things to add every week or so from any number of sources old and new. It’s convenient in many ways, except for one important one: there is no organization. I just add stuff as I find it, which makes sense and is an honored tradition in magical writing, which accounts for why things like the PGM, the Munich Manual, and the like are so horribly disjointed, confusing, and utterly unsuitable for light reading.
So, I’ve recently busted out and dusted off my LaTeX skills and started transcribing everything from my material vademecum into a digital one, importing the designs, texts, prayers, and whatnot from there, this blog, and my personal library into a fancy e-book format. LaTeX, though confusing and with a notorious learning curve, makes things very pretty and, once you get the hang of it, becomes easy to edit and manage large writing projects. For another, I figure having a digital form of my vademecum would be a good thing, especially once I fill up my hardcopy version or if I lose it at any point. Plus, if I ever start teaching (and some people can already read this in me,terribile cogitatu), this would be a good start for a textbook I could instruct and teach from.
Though it won’t be for a long while yet, I may decide to make this digital vademecum (eTome? GrimoireOnline?) of the Digital Ambler (Vademecum Polyphanae? Encheiridion Polyphanou?) public and published, maybe in e-book format, maybe in hardcopy through someplace like Lulu. In some ways, it could be seen as a distilled version of the methods used and seen on this blog; in others, it’s a collection of rituals, some ancient, some modern, and some revealed directly or created and unattested anywhere else. Since some of the material in my vademecum is taken from modern copyrighted sources, I’d probably want to figure out what I want to do about those (maybe include a references section? be original and come up with my own rituals?). Out of curiosity, what would people’s opinions be on the matter, whether publishing such a work at all, or the interest of people picking up/downloading a copy?
Also, two notes:
- No, Michael, I’m not trying to emulate the name of your very handsome blog.
- LaTeX is a bitch to learn, yes, but learn it. It makes typesetting both a skill and an art that anyone can use; it’s a very good freelance skill, especially if you find yourself in technical writing. If I could get a technical writing gig employing LaTeX that would also let me work from home, I’d probably devote myself to that position and never look back. You don’t need to be a masochist and compile TeX in the commandline like I do; there are lots of word-processor-esque fancy-schmancy GUIs that do a lot of the work for you.