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Spell Writing and

Ancient and Magickal Alphabets


Magickal alphabets, are magickal in themselves. Originally created to symbolize common things in magick and rituals. There are many scripts, some of which are outlined below. A Witch may use these alphabets to inscribe tools with words of power, and/or in spells.

I do most of my writing on the computer, as it is most efficient for me. However, when handwriting spells, I like to make my own ink, and use natural (Chemical free) paper. It isn't hard to make your own, but I buy special paper for just such a task, my spells are important, so I don't use just any old scrap of paper that's handy! To make your own ink, click here for instructions.





Probably the earliest known pre-Roman writing in the islands of what would become the area of Britain and Scandinavia was a Goidelic alphabet known as Ogham, which was first mentioned in the Book of Ballymote. Goidelic consisted of a number of upright strokes, standing on, suspended from, and crossing one line. Following the Ogham, came the Bobileth or Boibel-Loth alphabet and its derivatives, all preferred to some extent by the Druids in certain areas.
The Enochian alphabet, and the language written with it, were allegedly transmitted to Court Astrologer and Magician, Dr. John Dee (527-1608) and his associate, Sir Edward Kelly (1555-1597) by entities they referred to as angels. The characters shown comprise the proper alphabet for the Enochian Tablets. The Enochian language is considered the only correct and valid language for the Enochian Calls or Keys which are used to evoke (Which is calling in, as opposed to "invoke" which is sending out) the angels, therefore, it is a fundamental in the practice of true Enochian Magic.
The origin of the Etruscan alphabet is an interesting evolution of a language. The first alphabet was invented by Semitic-speakers in the ancient Near East. The Canaanite and later Phoenician alphabets had only consonants, with no vowels. The Greeks derived their alphabet from the Phoenician alphabet and added vowels, thereby producing the first true alphabet. The Greeks brought a western form of the Greek alphabet to Italy, and the Etruscans acquired the alphabet from them. The Etruscans then passed their alphabet to the Romans.

The Etruscan alphabet was diffused at the end of the Archaic period, around 500 CE, into northern Italy and became the model for the alphabets of the Alpine populations.

It is mostly written horizontally, left to right.

The Futhark is believed to be a derivative of the Northern Etruscan alphabet.

The Runic Alphabet, also called Futhark, is a writing system of uncertain origin that was used by Germanic peoples of northern Europe, Britain, Scandinavia, and Iceland from about the 3rd century to the 16th or 17th century AD. Because of its angular letterforms, runic writing is believed to belong to an ancient system.

Many modern scholars believe Futhark has its origins in the Greek or Latin alphabets, dating from the 6th century BC to the 5th century AD. One plausible theory, is that the runic alphabet was developed by the Goths, a Germanic people, from the Etruscan alphabet of northern Italy and was perhaps also influenced by the Latin alphabet of the 1st or 2nd century BC.

The Alphabet itself is written in similar letters to the runes.

Except for a few Norse inscriptions in runes, records of Gothic are older than those for any other Germanic language. The Gothic alphabet was used in all manuscripts written in Gothic and found in Europe. It is traditionally believed that the Gothic alphabet's 27 letters, consisting of 25 modified Greek symbols and 2 runes, were invented by bishop Wulfila, also known as Ulfilas (311-383). His invention of the Gothic alphabet meant that, for the first time in the Germanic world, writing could be used for the dissemination of ideas. The alphabet was used until the 6th century, and was only written in the Gothic language. The Ostrogoths of ancient Germany and Italy and the Visigoths of Eastern Europe and Spain spoke Gothic. The Gothic alphabet also corresponds to numeric values. The first line is in units 0-9, the second is in tens 10 - 90, and the third is in hundreds 100 - 900.




Greek and Hebrew have no known common root, but the Greek alphabet is derived from the Phoenician/Hebrew alphabet; the Phoenician and Hebrew languages are very closely related; like dialects of one language.

The names of the Greek letters have their origins in Phoenician and Hebrew. They come from pictographs where the letters were originally derived by simplification. "Aluph" means bull (derived from a bull pictogram), "bet" means house (from the Hebrew "bayt") , "Gamma" comes from "Gammal", meaning camel, and so on. The Greeks added some new letters, those that come after Tau.

During the Hellenistic period, when Palestine was part of the Seleucid and Ptolmaic empires, Hebrew borrowed many Greek words.

The root "AGR" has two meanings in Hebrew. In one of these meanings it denotes collecting/gathering/storing. This sense of the root may have been borrowed from Greek. However, the root "AGR" in Hebrew also has the meaning of reward/recompense/price/fee. It has this meaning also in Aramaic and Arabic. The modern Hebrew "agorah" is derived from "AGR" with this old Semitic meaning.

Like Gothic, Greek and Hebrew also have numerical values associated with theier letters.



The Malachim alphabet was offered by Agrippa in Book III, Chapter XXX, of his Occult Philosophy. Barrett in his Magus then copied it. Agrippa's only comments regarding this alphabet were that it meant "of Angels or Regal.". The Angelic Malachim alphabet is one of the most famous of the Angelic scripts and is still used, to a limited extent, in the higher degrees of Freemasonry. Advanced students, practitioners, and Adepts will find many significant writings in which these figures are used. It is based on the modern English, 26 letter alphabet.

2 Slightly different versions of Malachim


The Runic alphabet of today possibly evolved from two distinct sources--one magical and one literate. Pre-runic symbols have been found in Bronze Age rock carvings, primarily in Sweden. Some runic symbols are easily recognized in later alphabets, while others represent ideas or concepts incorporated into the names of the runes (moon, dog, tree, etc.). The exact meanings and the original purpose of these symbols are now long-lost, but they may have been used for divination or lot-casting, thereby contributing to the magickal function of the later runic alphabets. When the North Italic tribes began integrating the runic alphabet into their own symbolic system, the letters were given names that related to the tribe's secular and religious lives, thus transforming their simple pictographs into a magickal alphabet which could be used for talismans, magical inscriptions and divination.

2 different versions of Runes

























































THEBAN - "The Witches' Alphabet"
Many Pagans, Witches, and Wiccans use the Theban alphabet to encode their writings in their Books of Shadows or spell books. The Theban Script is also known as the "Witches' Alphabet". It is also known as "Runes of Honorius" or the "Honorius alphabet".

The earliest known source for the Theban alphabet is Cornelius Agrippa's "Three Books of Occult Philosophy" first published at Antwerp in 1531. Agrippa provided the Theban Script in Book III, Chapter 29 and wrote, "Of this kind of character therefore are those which Peter Apponus notes, as delivered by Honorius of Thebes". This is almost certainly a reference to the author of the early 14th century "Liber Juratus, or the Sworne Booke of Honorius".

However, it is believed that the Theban alphabet actually originated as a Latin cipher before the 11th-century. The origin of the letterforms is obscure, but all the evidence is consistent with an origin as an early alchemical cipher alphabet influenced by Avestan.

The Theban alphabet, is today, and always has been employed primarily for talismanic inscriptions and magickal spells and works.

2 Slightly different versions of Theban


Theban alphabet





How to make your own Magick ink

Making your own “magickal” ink is an added bonus to spell work.

Hundreds of recipes for iron gall ink have been published over the centuries. The sheer variety and number of these recipes testify to the widespread use of iron gall ink and its primary importance to our literary and artistic traditions. Artists and scribes, domestics and entrepreneurs ­ each concocted their own formula to suit their particular needs.

Interest in making historic inks has increased in the last several years, due in large part to the efforts of a few ink enthusiasts who have shared their vast knowledge and experience on the subject. This website is an effort to continue this dialogue, by sharing information about iron gall ink and promoting an appreciation for its unique place in history.

It is surprisingly easy to make iron gall ink - the earliest recipes are often the simplest - and the ingredients are inexpensive and readily available.


Iron gall ink is essentially created by the chemical reaction between tannic acid and iron(II) sulfate in an aqueous solution. The primary active components in tannin are gallotannic and gallic acid. With iron(II) sulfate, these tannic acids produce a black pigment, called ferrogallotannate or ferrotannate, upon exposure to oxygen. A small amount of pigment forms by reacting with oxygen in the water, but much more pigment is produced after the ink has been applied to paper and exposed to air for several days.

Even though iron gall ink has been highly prized for centuries for its durability and rich colour, it is known to be chemically unstable, and may, over time, change color or damage the paper on which it is applied (visit ink corrosion for more information). Recent research indicates that a 3:1 ratio of gallotannic acid to iron sulfate produces the most stable inks.

Although tannic acid and iron sulfate in water will produce a coloured solution, it is not a true ink until a water-soluble binder, such as gum arabic, is added to improve the body and flow of the solution so it may be used with quill, reed or steel dip pens (because of the corrosive nature of the ink, it is not recommended for use in expensive fountain pens). Other ingredients can be added to strengthen or change the colour of the ink, act as a preservative, or prevent it from freezing. A brief description of the source and function of each ingredient may inspire you to experiment with your own ink formulas.

       1. Tannic acid

     2. Iron (II) sulfate

     3. Water or wine

     4. Gum arabic

     5. Logwood


1. Tannic acid
Tannic acid is contained in the galls, bark, leaves, roots and fruits of various plants. The greatest concentration of gallotannic acid is found in galls; the bulbous growths formed on the leaves and twigs of trees in response to attack by parasites. Galls are collected from oak, oak-apple and pistachio trees. Depending on the source, they can be amorphous in shape (Japanese and Chinese galls); large, smooth and globular (British and American oak galls); or small, round and spiky (Aleppo galls). Aleppo galls, collected from trees native to Turkey, contain the highest amount of gallotannate, and were used in trial preparations of the inks described below. A lower proportion of gallotannic acid may be extracted from the bark of various trees, including oak, chestnut, mountain ash and cherry.      

Various other sources for tannin include pomegranate rinds, horse chestnuts, hemlock and pine bark. However, the active tannins in these materials are different, and the ink will be less durable and have a green tone instead of the blue black colour characteristic of high-quality iron gall ink.

Essentially, there are three methods by which gallotannate is extracted from galls. "Instant" ink recipes call for powdered or crushed galls to be mixed with water or other liquid. Others require that the galls be boiled for several hours to release the tannins. The most time-consuming preparations involve fermentation of the galls by mould.

The fermentation process generally produces the richest, blackest inks. As the mold enzymatically digests the gallotannic acid, the solution is transformed to gallic acid. Gallic acid will produce a purer black colour in reaction with iron sulfate, while gallotannic acid will produce a comparatively browner pigment. Should you want to make a gallic acid ink without investing the time, pure gallic acid can also be obtained from a chemical supplier.


2. Iron (II) sulfate

Iron sulfate has been called by many different names, including ferrous sulfate, vitriol, and copperas to name just a few. The term "copperas" may be particularly confusing to contemporary readers. Artist manuals distinguish iron sulfate as green copperas and copper sulfate as blue copperas. In early recipes, iron sulfate and copper sulfate were used interchangeably, in part because natural sources of the minerals were usually mined together. As iron sulfate became available through chemical suppliers, some recipes suggested cooking in a copper pot or otherwise adding copper salt to the mixture, presumably based on the belief that copper sulfate reacted with iron sulfate to produce color. However, recent research (currently unpublished) indicates that copper sulfate does not play a significant role in the ink color, and in fact, may inhibit production of the black pigment.

Pure iron sulfate may be obtained from chemical, specialty art or fabric dye suppliers in the form of a pale green powder or granules. A less pure form may be made at home by dissolving iron scraps or nails in a weak acid. However, making your own iron sulfate should never be attempted without a good understanding of the health and safety hazards involved, which is not within the scope of this website. For a more detailed description of the preparation of iron sulfate refer to Manuscript Inks by Jack C. Thompson, available through his website address listed in the links option.


3. Water or wine

Most inks are made in water. Of course, the purity of water varies widely, and older recipes often suggest using rain water, probably because it was thought to be purer than available standing water sources. Water from the tap may be contaminated with chlorine, metals from pipes, calcium and other salts. For this reason it is generally better to use fresh rain water or distilled water instead. In trial preparations of the inks described in this website, only distilled water was used. When measuring the amount of water specified by weight in a recipe, it is helpful to know that one milliliter is approximately equal to one gram.

Wine, beer or vinegar were sometimes used instead of water for the same reason‹ because it was thought to be a purer liquid. Alcohol may also have prevented the ink from freezing in winter, but, since some recipes require boiling the alcohol (which would cause it to evaporate), there may be another explanation for its use. It may be that the glycerin in alcohol increases the rate of extraction for tannin. Alcohol also reduces the surface tension of the ink solution, allowing it to soak more quickly into the paper fibers. Anecdotal evidence suggests that a large proportion of alcohol or vinegar may have a preservative effect, inhibiting mold from growing on the finished ink.

In many recipes, vinegar is suggested as a diluent in place of water to avoid diminishing the intensity of the ink color. Simple tests indicate that, in fact, color is not reduced by the addition of water any more than by vinegar; however, the gloss (imparted by gum arabic) is reduced more in water than in vinegar.


4. Gum arabic

Gum arabic is a water soluble golden-coloured sap collected from Acacia trees native to North Africa. It may be purchased from art supply stores in the form of a liquid, a powder or as dried clumps or fragments. Gum arabic keeps the black pigment suspended in the liquid; otherwise, it would settle to the bottom of the container over time. It also helps to thicken the ink, allowing it to flow more easily from the pen or brush onto the paper.

More importantly, the gum holds the ink at the surface of the paper for a few extra seconds before sinking into the fibres. This influences the appearance and durability of marks made with the ink. The ink line is clearer and sharper than it would be without a binding agent, in part because the ink sinks less deeply into the paper fibres. However, too much gum arabic will cause the dried ink to become inflexible, and it can crack and flake off the surface.



5. Logwood

Because the pigment in iron gall ink does not completely form until it is exposed to air, it is not very dark when applied to paper immediately after preparation. To bypass this latent reaction, provisional colorants were often added to the ink to obtain a dark colour as soon as it flowed from the pen. Natural dyestuffs, including logwood, indigo, and Brazilwood were used until synthetic aniline dyes replaced them in the late 19th century. Indigo had the further advantage of imparting a preservative effect to the ink.

Logwood has been used as a colorant since at least the Middle Ages, and was used widely in ink formulations produced in the first half of the 19th century. It is obtained from the wood of the campeachy tree and supplied as shavings or splinters by suppliers of artists' materials or fabric dyes. Boiled in tap water, logwood creates a blood red solution, although it will shift to blue in alkaline solutions and to yellow-orange in highly acidic solutions. Unfortunately, the colourant is not very lightfast, and, unlike the iron gall pigment, it will remain soluble in water after drying.








Some more recipes:


Beware! These inks may be corrosive and harmful to expensive writing and drawing equipment. There may also be toxic environmental effects in mixing them. Before experimenting with these recipes, you must consider the risks and accept responsibility for whatever happens.


Iron-gall ink (1)

Gallnuts, 5 grams

Ferrous Sulfate, 1 gram

Gum Arabic, 1 gram

Water, 200 grams


Grind the gallnuts to a fine powder and immerse in half of the water. In a few weeks, mold will cover the top surface. Skim off the mold and pour the liquid through a filter. Dissolve gum Arabic in a small amount of water and add it to the liquid. Dissolve the ferrous sulfate in water and add it to the liquid. Add 1 gram of carbolic acid to keep mold from forming.

source unknown


Iron-gall ink (2)

Gallnuts, 30 grams

Crystallized ferrous sulfate, 20 grams

Gum Arabic, 20 grams

Water, 600 grams


Grind the nuts to a fine powder and place into a bowl. Add half the water and let soak. In the remaining volume of water, dissolve the ferrous sulfate and the gum. Into this liquid, pour in the ground-and-soaked gallnuts. The liquid will turn black and can be used immediately, but it will reach its most intense blackness if it is stirred frequently for one or two months. After this, allow it to set for a few days, then filter and pour into the ink bottle. To avoid the formation of mould, add 5% of volume of strong gallnut extract and boil for 5 minutes. Too much of the iron salts will make the ink turn a rusty brown with darker edges, and it may also eat into the paper. Too large a quantity of gallnuts will make the ink lose its intensity, but it will remain resistant to water and alcohol.




Iron-gall ink (3)

To make good ink. Take 150g of the best Nuttgalls, break them in a mortar but not in small pieces, then put the gall into one litre of clear rain water or soft spring water, let them stand 4 or 5 days shaking them often, then take 2 ounces of white gum arabick, 1 ounce of double refined sugar, 1 piece of indigo and put in the same and shake them well and let them stand 4 or 5 days more. Then take 60g of good green copperis the larger the better and having first washed off the filth put in to the rest and also a piece of clear gum, about as big as a walnut to set the colour and it will be fit for use.



Iron-gall ink (4)

"...Copperas is ferrous (or iron) sulphate, which is available from any drugstore as a dietary supplement. In its natural and impure state copperas has a green tinge, hence the incorrect association with copper. Tannin, or tannic acid ... is the brown substance found in the bark and leaves of trees. Medieval scribes had their own favorite sources, however: acorns, walnut shells and, most often, the small protuberances that grow on oak leaves in reaction to the eggs of certain parasite wasps.... one part powdered gum arabic, two parts copperas, three parts crushed galls, and 30 parts water, all by volume...."

Paul Werner, "Dragon's Blood and Ashes", Calligraphy Idea Exchange, volume 1, number 2



Some others to try:

Berry Ink. Use 1/2 cup fresh berries or thawed frozen berries; push them through a strainer so that you get pulp-free juice. Add 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar (to hold colour) and 1/2 teaspoon salt (as a preservative) and mix well. You can use a small glass jar as your "inkwell", if you have one.

Walnut Ink. Crush the shells of 12 walnuts by putting them in a sock and hammering them lightly. Pour the shells into a saucepan and cover them with water, then let them simmer for 30 minutes. After that, remove them from heat and let them soak overnight. Strain the shells out of the ink and add 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar to help preserve the colour.

Invisible Ink. Try writing with lemon juice on a piece of paper using a paintbrush or Q-Tip. When the ink has dried, hold the paper over a toaster to heat it. Your writing should appear in brown lettering as the parts of the paper with acid from the lemon juice brown faster than the other parts. You can also make invisible ink from equal parts baking soda and water. Brush grape juice over your secret message to reveal the writing--the acidic grape juice reacts with the baking soda, which is a base.

Note: store these three inks in the fridge, they will not keep long in warm conditions.







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