There was a spell book in my elementary school library. I don’t recall it explaining a mythology or philosophy, but my vague memory of the spells suggest it was certainly Wiccan. That is pretty amazing considering that it was a small town school in the South. It was the early 80’s, so the Satanic Panic might not have been around. I highly doubt the book is still there, but I wonder.
The book had spells for money, health and of course, love. Even at nine years old, I had some insane crushes. I remember thinking the book could finally get a certain blonde girl to notice me. There was just one problem. The spell involved burning a note, and I was deathly afraid of fire. No love spells for me. Another spell involved burying something in the ground. My distaste for worms and dirt in general ruled that spell out.
The thing that I remember most was believing in the book. I had no doubt that the spells would work if I would just put the work in. I knew that David Copperfield was doing optical illusions, but for some reason, I thought magic spells in a book were as real as the book about rockets.
Later when I was a jaded teenager, I came across the Necronomicon in the Waldenbooks. I had started reading H.P. Lovecraft earlier that year and recognized the title. Now, I knew Lovecraft was fiction and I knew this alleged Necronomicon couldn’t possibly be the dread book of the Mad Arab. This was also a few years after my atheist epiphany so I didn’t believe in God, the Devil, spells or Cosmic Horrors.
I still bought the book. I was curious and liked Lovecraft enough to want to have even a fake facsimile of the famous dread book.
It was shit, of course.
But because the book was so serious about itself, I felt that tiny glimmer of belief that I hadn’t felt since I read that one spell book in elementary school. The force of conviction the book had convinced me for one tiny second that maybe this was real. That belief cracked and died when I recognized the Sumerian mythology it was trying to pass off as hidden truths. Other parts were poorly done as well and I remember finishing it with a monumental level of contempt.
Flash forward to today. I am working on a writing journal game where the player writes about their relationship with a demon lover they summoned. The game is written entirely in-character as if this is a real book of magic. There are dread warnings. There is a little bit of work involved in making your journal. The player is writing the Journal as a tool to hold onto their sanity as well as providing a sort of black box in case anything happens to the player.
In short, it is a bit full of shit, but I hope it also evokes a mood. I hope when people play it, they feel that delicious thrill of making something special happen. I hope when they write about their demon lover, it is with the same intense emotion that I felt when I cracked open the books of magic from my youth.