A grimoire (/ɡrɪmˈwɑːr/ grim-WAHR) (also known as a “book of spells”) is a textbook of magic typically complied by a practitioner of the magical arts as personal log or journal. The exact types of magic recorded in a grimoire can vary greatly from glossaries of spells to entire systems of magic. Common themes can include instructions on how to craft magical objects like talismans and amulets, how to prepare formulas and spells, techniques for evocationary scrying, and how to conjure or invoke unseen entities such as angels, spirits, and demons.
The word grimoire originated from the old French word grammaire, which was used to describe all books written in Latin. By the eighteenth century, the word gained its now common usage, referring exclusively to books of magic. I presume this is because magic manuscripts, no matter their language, almost always contain conjurations in Latin.
While the word grimoire is originally European, similar books can be found all across the world. In Norway, they are referred to as Svartebøker. An Iceland a book of magic is called a Galdrabók. In Germany, the word Zauberbüch is used to describe textbooks of magic. In Taoist sorcery, a book for crafting talismans is known as a Fang Shu or Book of Results. Pustaha is the word used to describe North Sumatran magic books. In Thailand, magical manuscripts are called pap tup and in modern witchcraft (or Wicca), the term, Book of Shadows is most popular. The list goes on.
In many cases, the books themselves are believed to be imbued with magical powers, although in many cultures, other sacred texts that are not grimoires (such as the Bible) have been believed to have supernatural properties intrinsically. For this reason, manuscripts, as opposed to printed books, are considered superior. A practitioner might inherit one along with its imbued powers or craft one from scratch in a ceremonial manner.
Since at least the Middle Ages, grimoires have been considered dangerous, indexed as forbidden and if found, destroyed or hidden away. “No books have more feared than grimoires: then again, no books have been more valued and revered.” (Davis, 2009). With that in mind, let us now discuss where one might procure a ‘grimoire.’