Magickal Book Blues

My eventual goal

On and off I have tried to condense my magickal notes into some form of book. Grimoire, Book of the Shadows, General Kal’s Little Blue Book, whatever you term it. I’ve also failed repeatedly. Part of my problem is I had the idea it had to be a physical text, which isn’t the problem in an of itself, but I’m very structured and a perfectionist. So my attempts often had lots of blank pages between sections for me to fill in, cause I couldn’t have anything out of order, but alas eventually one thing would grow too much and ruin the order.

So now I’m going to try shifting my notes into a digital format. At least this will make my notes in Tibetan/Sanskrit/Pali/Hebrew/Greek easier to put down as I can type in those scripts a lot faster than I can write. My challenge becomes though: how in the 136 Hells am I to organize this stuff? I could divide it simply with Western magick and Buddhist stuff, but they really aren’t that separate in my practice, a lot of my stuff draws on both things.

How do I divide what goes in? Cosmological theories? But those bleed into Angel/God/Spirit descriptions and various rituals. Sections on Spirits, but those are dependant in a way on how the Spirit is called. Different forms of evocation. Processes of meditation, ritual. But there in all of them there are the little tips that apply to every thing, but shouldn’t necessarily be repeated everywhere. How to properly dissolve a ritual space shouldn’t be listed in every ritual, but is it worth of it’s own spot? Chants, mantras, recipes, need-to-know facts, comments on astrology and timing.

Excuse me while I flail.

So for now I’m just digitizing stuff without order, and will hopefully organize it better later. But I want to ask my readers, whatever your path, however you store your information, do you have some advice? How do you categorize and separate all these things in whatever your favoured book of notes is? Any examples or ideas would be a great help for me.

And since I’m randomly away three hours into my sleep cycle (the Hour of the Wolf has been strong this week) another issue I have with organizing magickal stuff is my library. Another thing I have had trouble sorting out. My currently layout is more based on when I acquired the book than what it is about. Thankfully I have a remarkable memory for this sort of thing so while my books are in four different places I know what shelf and generally what section of the shelf any given book is on. That’s fine for me, but it’s problematic when I have a friend or student who wants to look at or borrow a book because they need me to guide them to a book. I’d much rather say “You’re looking for a book on summoning? Check out this area” and let them be. So for those of you who have an occult library of a size that needs organization, how does that work for you?

My current idea I’ve sketched out is:

Astrology – Divination – Tarot – Tarot Magick – Ceremonial Magick – Solomonic – Golden Dawn – Thelemic – Western Magick – Chaos Magick – Energy Model

Theravada – Mahayana – Vajrayana – Chöd – Buddhist Psychology – Taoism – Qi Gong – Reiki – Hinduism

Forbidden Archeology – Past Life Research

I’ve tried to group them in like ideas that bleed together, but this is always my problem: some books fit into more than one category, some more than two, and unfortunately my library is confined by three dimension space.

So while this is half rant, half ramble, half request, and half bad fractions, seriously I would love to know more about how others organize their personal magickal notes, and their libraries. Even if you think you organize it poorly it gives me another view to think about it from.

18 Responses to Magickal Book Blues

  1. Ocean Delano says:

    I’ve recently begun digitizing a grimoire/BoS/Vademecum/Whatever myself, and Polyphanes’ post on categorizing his vademecum was pretty handy (http://digitalambler.wordpress.com/2012/09/19/a-classification-of-magical-things/)

    There were alterations I made to the structure he listed, as well as things I added. Namely, I changed ‘Rituals’ to ‘Theurgy’, ‘Works’ to ‘Thaumaturgy’, ‘Recipes’ to Formulary, and added ‘Subtle Keys’, a section for zone magic, and…something else I cannot recall as I write this. AND it’s at home where I can’t access it! I can fill you in on it later if you want.

    So far it’s working out pretty well for me. I might regret it, but I’ve also decided to learn LaTeX, based on Poly’s glowing review of it, for when I get things more fully written down.

    • Kalagni says:

      I’m not bothering with LaTeX (insert whatever joke here) despite Poly’s review :-p

      What was your subtle key section about, what types of things were in?

      • Ocean Delano says:

        Well, you know, some people have an allergy and all, but I don’t know if you do, so…oh, wait, nevermind. LOL Honestly, I don’t blame you. I just think I’m unhinged to be trying to learn LaTeX.

        The section on subtle keys will contain the types of things found in the Subtle Keys chapter in Miller’s “Sorcerer’s Secrets”. They’ll be magical techniques, most of them basic, that form part of larger magical workings. Breath techniques including pore-breathing, pillar & spheres, centering, various gestures, etc all form part of this section.

  2. I made a nice outline for myself a long time ago, but it was more of a structure of skills to work on. Our Temple library is fairly organized by culture or tradition, but what I am actually reading is not in there.

    I have moved my current magical record into Evernote. The only structure there is “magical record” ” dream journal ” and” reference. “Not much help; but it is searchable.

    • Kalagni says:

      I used to have my library divided by culture and timeline (Ancient/Classic/Modern), but like all divisions it’s the stuff that falls between that becomes my issues. Like where do I put a book on psychology and Buddhism, or what about Crowley’s book on yoga. Things like that. In general I’m very equanimous, but when it comes to organization I’m nitpicky.

  3. Jack says:

    One of the advantages of a digital format is that it is searchable and therefore needs less indexing. I keep my magical notes in Evernote, and my “stack” of metaphysical notebooks looks like this: ADF/alchemy/Baltic/Buddhism/Cascadianism/Daoism/Divination/dragons/firebirds/gender/misc metaphysical/Norse/otherworlds. Some of those are categories that are only meaningful to me, but I figure the notes are for me so that’s okay.

    My books are mostly grouped by subject, but I’ve switched almost everything I can get in ebook format to that style, so more of my organization is done in Calibre than on the shelf.

    • SpidrGoddess says:

      I very much agree with Jack. A digital format can be “keyword coded” so that you can find the information you need, when you need it, regardless of which section you choose to plant it in.

      • Kalagni says:

        *nods* Thanks. Oddly the keyword idea isn’t one I’ve thought of too much. But I guess much like say a post entry, I could tag the different sections of my information giving it a more complex and thorough ordering.

    • Kalagni says:

      Thanks. I do like the searchability of having my stuff digitally…except for when different transliterations screw me over. The same name spelt 4 different ways and I search the wrong spelling…

      • Jack says:

        Good point, but I find careful tagging will help with that – as long as my tags use consistent transliteration, I should be able to find what I need.

  4. Isabelle says:

    Maybe you would be better off with a html website style document, where a same text can come up under different headlines.

    • Kalagni says:

      That seems to be the idea a lot of people have tossed at me, and I never really thought of. I’m going to toy around with it, and see how that works out.

  5. The Unlikely Mage says:

    I’m of two minds when it comes to digitizing notes. I don’t like digital notes because they can be so easily wiped out. However, the searching and ease of entry are rather nice. There’s also just something about pen and paper and lots of marginalia.

    One place where digital notes shine are recording astral journeys and spirit communications on the fly, though I find a voice recorder is even more awesome for evocation work.

    As far as organization goes, it’s your book! Unless you’re planning on selling it, put it in a structure that works for you. I may eat those words when I start my own organizational project.

    Library – I’m no help here. I deliberately keep a very small number of physical books, mostly reference. That’s still about 20 books or so, but that’s easy to keep track of.

    • Kalagni says:

      I don’t do marginalia. Digital notes are easily wiped out, but they have the persistence advantage of being able to exist in multiple places at once. I’m a history student and all too often have to deal with “there was only one copy of this text, we lost it in a fire/flood/cat-pee-accident.”

      Not selling, but I would like to be able to share it with students and acquaintances…but even just for me…it has to be organized, that’s very much how I am.

      Yeah, I’m a minimalist in a lot of ways…books are not one of them, heh.

  6. MrBlack says:

    I’ve been working on consolidating my work for quite some time now; different formats as well – moleskin, e-book, etc but I find that I can’t settle on just one technique and even if I want to put down some sort of fundamentals, there are other books (like IIH) that explains it better.

    Right now though, I have a folder and all of the articles that I wrote or liked are in it – eventually, I will just have to pick a format and edit it.

  7. For notes: Organization by tags has worked very well for us; we haven’t felt a need to put things into separate folders or files by category in addition to the tags. If I had it to do over again, though, I would ditch DreamWidth and put it into a webapp that allows me to directly attach image files rather than having to save them to a hosting provider and then link.

    For books: We’re in the process of going digital but have already run into the problem of not being able to get e-books of everything we want. (Funny, that…) Alternatively (I almost typed altarnatively), my first thought – and one that I now want us to follow through on for ourselves – is to do with books what we’ve been trying to do with our yarn: Create a digital inventory. That you can tag, so if you or a guest want to find all of your yoga books and the one is in with your Crowley books, it’ll come up even if you’ve forgotten about that specific one.

    We’ve been using Goodreads to start inventorying our dead tree books; it gives you “shelves” which are like tags, but no other space for comments. We’ll probably kluge this so that each book has a “shelf” for its actual shelf location and other “shelves” for metadata. I’m not familiar with any similar sites I could recommend, but if you go this route the hive mind will presumably be able to provide more suggestions.

    • Sounds like Evernote might help, with Calibre for ebooks (although I haven’t used that). We started cataloging our books on LibraryThing a few of years ago, but there are so many that we never got to the ones downstairs. Seriously, I am looking around to see which pieces of furniture could be replaced by stacks of books …

      And I should definitely tag all my Evernote notes, before there get to be too many. I don’t want to have to multiply folders too much.

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