Sunday, May 30, 2010

On Phile Hine and Talismanic Books

I was reading a link from a bit ago Gordon's blog on "Talismanic Books" by Phil Hine, and I totally get his point. Talismanic is not a synonym for fancy.

I do adore a well made book, don't get me wrong. When I got my Picatrix copy from Oroboros Press, I petted it, smelled it, loved it like any red blooded American would love an inanimate object. But I don't consider it talismanic. I consider it a well made source text suitable to pass on to future generations and preserve knowledge. Even if the language and translation are a bit clunky and hard to use at times.

Part of my magical background being Arabian Magic, there is a lot of book mysticism going on. Letters are seen as the building blocks of creation, and each letter has a Divine Emanation, a spirit, etc. associated with it. But the Talismanic nature of a book depends on the author and the authors intent.. and you know.. actual spell work. Otherwise the book is just asleep.

It's tapping in to more than just the ink and paper. That is just the body of the book. There is the spiritual essence of the book, the spirits and current of the lineage the book is associated with, the spirits of the letters, and the Divine Ideas or True Revelation of the book, those are the Meaning behinds the words. Each book ideally is a Truth, a calling down of the numinous, wordless Real and enfleshing it into words, into Revelation. Going from the Universal to the Personal to the Specific.

Now many of the high end occult books out there are a great idea. I LOVE the hard copy. You can hide it, preserve it, and continue the tradition, or at least keep the wisdom flowing. Most of Archeology is about the hard copy. But the worth of a book is more than just its materials. There is lots of drek out there, and drek hand written in calligraphy on vellum is still drek.

But lets not get all crazy and throwing around Talismanic when it just ain't so. Sometimes it is just a finely crafted book, and that ain't nothin'. And a finely crafted book can be made talismanic, but so can a paperback. I know I've done it.


Gordon said...

Nice post.

I'm suspicious about using 'Talismanic' in many cases myself. Though I really like the idea that it's in fact the reader/owner that can make something Talismanic.

My Peter J Carroll books are cheaply printed, old, a little frayed, slightly stained and have been all over the world with me: I'm talking sunken cities to the London Underground.

They're probably the most potent books I own.

The NICEST books I own are the complete 'Absolute Sandman' collection which cost me a lazy couple of hundy. I love them but they're not inherently Talismanic (though I have certainly imbued them with some kind of accidental potency)

Frater A.I.T. said...

I'm right with you bro-I have a beautiful copy of Jake Stratton-Kent's True Grimoire....lovely as it is (a must have in the library, I think), I would hardly call it Talismanic. That's just a bit of marketing abuse of the word.

You have to make a book talismanic, you can't just print it that way.

Jow said...

@ Gordon: Absolute Sandman you say? You sexy beast.

@ A.I.T. : I can see a book being talismanic if it's a manuscript, and made that way intentionally by the scribe.

Sacred Texts seem to have a power all their own, though, even printed. Right in the beginning of my copy of "Buddhahood Without Meditation", a Dzogchen text, it flat out says that if you don't have the empowerments you can just put the book on your altar, treat it respectfully, and it will help your practice.

Maybe because they are a direct Revelation? I honestly don't know.