I stayed up until 3 AM reading a novel that I simply could not put down, even though I had to wake up at 7h30 for work. It was a concession I made to my infatuation with the book, which was an urban fantasy featuring libriomancers—people who used books to power their magic. A libriomancer could reach a hand through the pages of a well-loved paperback, using the power of the collective belief of those who’d read it, and draw out anything that would fit between the pages.
The main character is, in part, so likable and enjoyable because he’s a lot like me and many of my friends: geeky, excitable, and prone to feeling awe at figuring out how things work, especially magically. And although I can’t sink my fingers into Tolkien and draw out the One Ring, I can certainly relate to the love and passion that character has for the stories he uses—which he adored before he learned how to do magic with the books.
In many ways, the concepts offered up by that fictional story aren’t so far from the truth for many of us. Reconstructionists, neopagans, and chaos magicians can all draw magic out of the book in their hands, even if it’s not physically manifest. Our subjective reality changes when we read, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction or a little of both. The world shifts around us as our minds project the scenery we read onto our own surroundings, creating our own little holodeck for as long as our eyes are on the page—and often long afterwards.
I finally put the book down, 70% finished, because I knew sleep had to happen for me to function the next day at work. I was buzzing with energy, unhinged through a combination of tiredness and excitement over the story. I didn’t drift off until 4, and I tossed and turned until 5 before I finally settled down for a couple of hours of more restful sleep.
Especially for those who do any kind of energywork, reading can feel like unlocking oneself. In losing myself to the book, in the act of fully imagining everything I was reading, I created an energetic echo of the fiction and put myself in the center of the hologram. The illusion faded when I closed the book, but my body didn’t automatically re-seal and re-shield itself; it remained loose, stimulated, tendrils of half-directed intent swirling about and seeking to paint with invisible colors.
That’s pretty “woo” for a reconstructionist, but I have a decade or more of history working with energy and color, and my imagination is well- and fully-formed from being a writer and artist since I was a child. A fictional story about magic being drawn from fiction has let me draw magic into my world, this very real and strange and wonderful world where I worship ancient gods and work magic with the power of my words and with colors that only I can see.
Like the character in those books, I’ve always wished magic was real—and like that character, I found out that it is, in many ways, as real as breath and sparking synapses. And with all the consequences, with all the challenges, with all the “am I nutters?” self-sanity checks, I still love that my reality is a magical one.