Title: Crafting Magick with Pen and Ink: Learn to Write Stories, Spells and Other Magickal Works
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications (2009)
Author: Susan Pesznecker
Pages: 240 pp.
Price: $16.95 US
Where shall I begin with Crafting Magick with Pen and Ink? What a great book to have in a Pagan’s library, let me assure you! If you don’t already have this book on your shelf at home: go out now and get it! If you ever wanted to write your own Book of Shadows, or even if you just want to become a more magickally-aware writer, this guide is the place to start. Each of the eighteen chapters focuses on an important part of the magickal writing life: the writer’s toolkit (ch.2), journal keeping (ch.4), grimoires (ch.9-10), reading (ch.11), spellwork and rituals (ch.15), and more. There’s also an appendix of magickal alphabets (Futhark, Theban, and Ogham) and more than ten pages of resources (general and magickal) to continue your writing journey.
Crafting Magick is very reader-friendly. Other reviewers (both who liked the text and disliked it) have mentioned that at times the book even seems elementary. Pesznecker, for example, takes pains to explain the difference between fiction and nonfiction writing, among other relatively basic concepts. Such explanations weren’t a problem for me, even though I write professionally, because the book is specifically a “how-to” guide; it’s a resource, the kind of thing you keep on your shelf and refer back to it when you can’t remember that one thing that’s been bugging you all day and you knew you read it somewhere but now you can’t really even remember that, either. (And actually, some reviewers might be surprised by how many people actually don’t know the difference between fiction and nonfiction. I’m glad the author didn’t make any assumptions about the reader’s knowledge base.)
This book is a basic, beginner’s text, but that doesn’t make it a poor one. It’s a great foundation for further writing practice and magickal theory. Scattered through the pages are writing exercises and tips as well as directions for undertaking magickal crafts, like creating and devoting a magickal writer’s stole (pages 20-25). At the end of most of the chapters is a section called “Scribbulus” wherein two or three activities are suggested to put the chapter’s precepts into practice. I liked especially, “Start your own reading life list. Include favorite books from your childhood, as well as the books that have been important to you during your lifetime” (page 135), and “Write a simple blessing to use before meals” (194).
The author also includes some simple recipes for ink and chalk. I actually made some Moonwriting Ink, as directed in chapter 12 “Quill and Scroll”, and although I did “feel like a medieval chemist” (as the text predicted I would) while I was making the attempt, it was quite clear in my results that I’ll have to try the recipe again because it didn’t exactly turn out as I’d hoped. I don’t think there’s a problem with the recipe or directions (pages 148-149), though, I’m just not really a chef or chemist by nature. I have a quill-tip pen, but I almost never use it because I get frustrated that I have to keep dipping the ink; when I got it, the pen came with an inkwell and some ink, which has long since dried at the bottom of the well. Making my own ink seemed like something I should at least try, and I’ll admit that even someone who has nearly no talent at all in the kitchen (that is: me) managed to pull off some not-terrible ink on the first try.
I was very pleased with Crafting Magick with Pen and Ink. Some readers may dislike the book because it sometimes seems basic; why put everything you should’ve learned in middle school and high school about writing and the magick you should’ve learned from any Wicca 101 book into one place? The easy-to-understand ideas are actually its strength. As I said, the book is a reference. It’s good to have the information all in one place, and I recommend it because the author knows that writing and magick cannot be separated, as learning the two skills in different places implies. Magick is writing; writing is magick.
[V.E. Duncan is a blossoming polytheist. A writer who lives in the Los Angeles area (but who truly wishes to go back to New York City, where her heart is), she owns a cantankerous cat named Cleopatra. V.E. can be contacted through her website, Duncan Heights.]