Friday, 5 November 2010

Migratory paths of Occult Books


My recent trip was a success and not a success. Stopped doing some meditation part-way through and ability to remember dreams decreased. On the other hand, did manage to read a bit more of Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s “Inner Space” in digestible chunks which led to ruminations on water and spiritual realities. When I get the chance I shall have to re-read his very short but good “Waters of Eden” book.

Next up is bringing down my small library of books and deciding which get a spot on the new open bookshelf and which move to the cupboard upstairs. The decision making process for this is based along two lines: 1. which books are visitors not going to be too shocked to see on open shelves and 2. (more importantly) which authors are going to be more at home sharing a shelf with other authors.

On this second point, I read a story years ago about a Rabbi who moved some books around on his shelves after they had been in their previous positions for years. When one of his students asked him why he’d moved the books, the Rabbi replied that the souls of the authors of the books had finally set-aside their disagreements and hence would no longer be offended at their books being placed side by side.

This is the basis of cataloging of my books, of course going on the assumption that I know enough about the authors to guess whether they take offence at their relative positions on the shelves with other books. If any authors have strong views on this, then please leave me a comment or visit me in a dream. Sometimes books seemingly “migrate” across shelves as others are taken out for lending or reading. This has led to some interesting arrangements, but never to the extent that I’ve had to rush in and separate two books in the dimension of space.

This, however, leads to the interesting topic (in my opinion) about the migratory paths of books in Occult bookshops – especially those that buy and sell second hand books. Not only do the books have a migratory life in and out of the bookshop through the hands of numerous owners, but also within the bookshop itself. Whilst I have little knowledge of how books are classified and placed around the shop, as a browser it is interesting to note the small “shuffles” along a shelf or even leaps across from one classification to another.

If you know of an essay (or book) on “The Secret Life of Occult Books”, then please kindly point me to where this can be found. I’d be surprised if such an essay does not exist as some of this material was covered by morbidfrog at a Treadwells talk on occult books a couple of years ago. With the explosion of grimoires being published, there are sure to be plenty of amusing anecdotes with which to pepper such an essay.