Paper can be the Spell
Certain scripts are perceived as inherently powerful, for instance, Arabic, Chinese and Hebrew. If there was a pagan Greek belief that the world was created and activated via the sound of the vowels, in traditional Judaic teaching life is activated through the Hebrew letters. Ancient Egyptians utilized different scripts for different purposes, mystical and mundane. Northern European runes and Celtic Ogham script are specifically for magickal and spiritual use. Many contemporary Wiccans and ceremonial magickians use various magickal script.
Paper can create lasting amulets. The most readily accessible example is the Jewish mezuzah, attached to doorposts. The use of mezuzahs has been adopted by some Hoodoo practitioners. Similar written amulets exist in Chinese, Japanese, Ethopian, Muslim and Tibetan traditions.
Paper as we know it was invented in China in 105 ce, and China remains the primary home of paper magick. Paper charms are traditionally written in red cinnabar ink on yellow or red paper with a peach wood pen, in special magickal scripts known as “thunder writing” or “celestial calligraphy.” Charms are used in various ways: Pasted over the door or on the walls, worn in the hair or carried in a medicine bag.
Some paper spells are created in ordered to be destroyed via fire or water. Destroying the paper spell releases its energy into the atmosphere so that the spell can work as intended. Sometimes water and fire are combined: some Chinese charms are burned first, and then the ashes are mixed with tea or water and drunk. Rice paper is particularly effective for this as it dissolves easily in water.
*A written spell doesn’t necessarily require paper: an ancient custom was to inscribe a clay bowl or plate with spells and incantation. It is then shattered to release the energy into the atmosphere. (If you make your own pottery, the traditions can be combined; insert tiny pieces of paper directly into the pottery, inscribe further so the magick is contained inside and out, then shatter.)
*Not all paper spells require words. Spells can be cast with images. Chromolithographs incorporate the power and blessing of a Spirit. They may also substitute for a statue. If you don’t have no artistic ability, a collage of sacred and power images create an amulet.
*A traditional alternative is to write the name of the desired divinity in gold ink on red paper and post it on the wall.
Many spells suggest using “magickal inks” formulas. Although this is never required, it can empower a spell.
Pen and ink are only one form of magick writing. There are many traditions of drawing designs on the ground, particularly to invite, invoke and honor spirits. Materials used include flowers, flour, cornmeal and special rangoli powder.
*Angelic sigils are written on paper or engraved onto metal. Each angel has a specific sigil that can be used to summon them. The “veve” designs of Haitian Vodou have similar purposes. Each Iwa or spirit has a “veve” that expresses its essence and is thus worthy of meditation, but the “veve” may also be used to summon and honor the spirit. “V’eves” may be drawn on paper but are most frequently drawn on the ground. Candomble and Romany spirits also possess sigils as do others.
*Rangoli, the women’s spiritual art of India, utilizes rice flour with brightly colored flowers and spices to create patterns. As Earth’s tiny creatures eat the rice flour, they carry imbedded prayers and petitions to the Earth’s womb.
*In Brazil, pemba, a kind of chalk which may contain pulverized herbs, is used to create invocational markings on Earth. Originally an African practice, the finest pemba is still thought to come from Africa and may be imported and purchased at a great cost to a less-than-wealthy practitioner.