I am not afraid to admit to the fact that I love paper. I love books. I love office supplies. I like anything to do with any of this stuff, and I've even been caught sniffing the pages of new books and decks of tarot cards. This being said, I will admit to the fact that my favorite part of school was the school shopping that one did yearly before the term started so that you would have what you needed to succeed. In the beginning, this is an extremely fun endeavor- picking our different colored sharpies and gel pens, markers, crayons, scissors, and then even protractors and compasses- all of this to be held by the popular pencil pouch. Then all of this fancy smanshy stuff drops off and the excitement ends as you realize you only begin to need pens/pencils, and notepaper. The end. Although, once you get to college you need a computer or a tablet with a keyboard, but thats besides the point. What I'm getting at is that when you begin your magickal career, you get to do a bit of shopping in order to have the things that you need to succeed.
Use this as a sort of Howarts School Letter, a list of necessary supplies if you will. As cute and fluffed as this may be at this point, I want to definiatly express how dire these supplies are, and I also want to stress the fact that this isn't something one can take lightly. If you are beginning a magickal career, you must take it seriously. Sure, have fun, but at the same time, focus.
NUMBER ONE: THE MAGICKAL DIARY
My personal guru, Ms. Lorie Parker is a folk witch. She personally initiated me as a child into a young adult- as much as this was a symbol of my birth into the left handed arts, it was also a coming of age ritual that I now see as very necessary to my childhood, and thus who I am today. Lorie was always extremely proud of my writing ablitity, and always encouraged me to journal and write as much as possible. This being said, It was an easy task to record every single bit of my magickal workings when I began explouring Thelema, and it was no surprise that, in synchorcity with my own guru, the universal and Master Therion, Aleister Crowley also avidly encouraged the use of a diary, or journal. He termed this the Magickal Diary, or the 'Magickal Record'. He valued this item- the record itself, and the process so important that he wrote an entire volume on the subject.
Thus, obtaining a book that you can use as a record is very important. In my opinion, there are two styles, or approaches that you could go with when selecting this volume, and it may have a lot to do with how you are going to use the volume. The first approach is the vanity approach. This would be selecting a 'tome', or a large black leather book that had “BOOK OF SPELLS” written all over it. In essence, selecting a volume that you know will elicit certain feelings of power for the words written inside. This sort of book is best for the detailed journaler. This person will record all spells and rituals that they practice, with hand drawn diagrams, and color coded tabs on the sides. I use this approace. This way, I have in a way written a grimoire for my children and their children- something to be passed down that has the power because of its look, and how I have taken my time to expand upon it.
The second approach would be the shorthand journaler. Someone who may make list of feelings, or write out an experience at certain time intervals, detailing the happenings at the regularity of those intervals. Instead of writing what has already been written, they might just say “Ritual on Page 15 in So and So Book” and then in that book hightlight the necessary part. This type of person/journaler/magician will most likely select a simple notebook, or lined journal. I am not setting any of this in stone by the way, neither is any of this taken from Crowley. These are ideas that you can feel free to use as they are mine and I am sharing them with you.
Myself, I am of the first approach, and I like to use graph paper to write on, because if I am going to add a drawing, it helps me think outside the lines a bit more then straight lined ruled paper. I have many many journals filled mind you- and I have used all different kinds. I seem to do best with slim, low page count notebooks with a sewn binding and graph ruled paper, that is usually of a stained color. In my case, a moleskin cashiers book works extremely well. http://www.moleskine.com
In reality, the type of notebook doesn't matter (you could in theory have a completely digital magickal journal, if it is your Will to do so) so go find yourself whatever journal you see fit. Just make sure it is something that you will enjoy writing in, because you will be recording your daily waking life for some time, or until the journal is filled and you are much more likely to sit and write if its an enjoyable experience. So think about that when you are purchasing your notebook as well. It's much easier to write on a surface that lies flat, so keep that in mind when selecting a notebook with a sewn binding.
NUMBER TWO: THE WRITING UTENSIL (and TABS and STICKY NOTES)
Now, as I already stated, I was already an avid journaler, and I do most of my writing, surprisingly, by hand. This makes, along with smooth-yet-absorbant paper, a nice pen indispensible. The pen is obviously ever important because there are days when you may have a vision or a dream, and you want to write for 10 or more pages. If using a writing utensil that you don't like or that makes it difficult to write, you may not write as much, or record all the details. I've been in the middle of some amazing passages, and my hand began to cramp so badly that I just couldn't go on.
The best pen that I have ever owned in my entire life, is my Vista Lamy Safari Demonstrator Pen with a refillable ink cartridge insert. The pen was made of extremely high quality clear plastic, and had a chrome wire sap clip and nib. The clear walls of the pen casing mad the inkwell visible, helping to keep track of ink levels and make sure one wouldn't run out and the worst of times. This is very important for me, because writing so much often led to me running out of ink at the worst of times. The refillable insert was about $4.00 and was worth a lot more then that because it made it possible to refill with any kind of ink- you didn't need to purchase cartridges. I will warn you though that I originally tried using calligraphy ink, which did not work. It wasn't opaque enough. I switched to India ink, and the color was vibrant. I purchased the ink at a local craft store, Higgins Brand. The Lamy fountain pens are amazing, but will run you about $22.00 for one pen. I lost mine, and I think, now that I am writing this, that I may go purchase another. It will last forever as long as it isn't lost, and that pays for itself when you figure in the cost of higher end disposable pens, like the ever popular Pilot G-2, another favorite of mine. If you can find fountain pens, use them. The next best brand I have found was the Pilot Varsity. I purchased an entire box of them once, for about $35.00 for 12 pens, I loved them so much.
I have run into many enthusiast of journaling who do recommend using pen, but going with the graphite alternative. The reason for this is because pencil last longer and does not fade, and isn't as easily effected by acidic paper, or water damage. You should do whatever is going to make you write more, but I like the look and feel of pen, and I find it much easier to produce lengthy segments and passages using ink over lead.
Take for instance the picture above.
NUMBER THREE: THE TAROT DECK
The next piece of equipment would be a tarot deck. I, of course, recommend the Thoth tarot deck. (the link to amazon will be inserted later). Select the standard size, and if you have the funds, go ahead and pick up the large size copy as well. In my workshops and teachings, I have found that the smaller size works well for daily readings and for travel, but the large size is necessary to capture all the details of a card, and I use it often for meditation and study. I have also been known to use my smaller deck as a kind of note card- get a fine point sharpie and use it to write directly on the cards- record their hebrew letter meanings and any other relevant information. Some take a very different route and cut the boarders off of their cards so that they can't rely on the keyboards- they have to look at the picture and draw from memory in order to read the deck.Books to purchase as a beginner would be a book about the Thoth tarot, a book about qabalah in its hermetic form, and a book featuring the standard rituals which you should start performing and memorizing daily.