Careful NotationOctober 26, 2009
How often have you created something — either in ritual or messing around with herbs and oils — where you’ve been delighted with the result, but could never re-create it because you never wrote it down?
Keeping good notes will help you keep track of your work, your progress, and help you develop your recipes. Getting into the habit of taking good notes is one of the hardest habits to develop, even if you’re a meticulous diarist.
Part of that, in my opinion, is that so many of the books that offer guidance into the creation process have such an intricate system of planning and note-taking BEFORE your actual ritual or recipe starts that you’re so exhausted from the preparatory notes that you never get any farther.
Whether it’s a ritual or a recipe, there’s a much easier starting point:
Purpose and Correspondences.
Yes, that’s it. Know your purpose. Jot it down. Find correspondences that fit your purpose. Jot them down.
If you’re creating a ritual, you can then slot the purpose and the correspondences in to the way you work. That’s why it’s called a “ritual” — it’s a series of specific actions in a specific order. You have a set way of working — a template, so to speak. Each ritual is individualized to serve its specific purpose within that template. It doesn’t have to be twelve pages long and contain 96 steps. Simple and focused tends to get better results than pretentious and meandering.
The other thing to remember after the ritual is over, you’ve cleaned up and you’ve thought about it for a bit, is to write down your experience of the ritual, what you feel did and did not work, changes that happened organically within the ritual, and, overall impressions. That helps you in the future — if you do a particular sequence from ritual to ritual and it doesn’t feel right or doesn’t work or you can never remember it, you can see that pattern over time and make decisions to change it to something that works better, and brings you more in sync in your communications with the Divine.
If you’re creating a recipe, notating as you work is very important, the same way it would be if you were developing a new recipe for bread dough or a cake or whatever.
Write down each ingredient as you add it.
Note how you mix it in — clockwise, counterclockwise, if you use a specific number of strokes.
Note how it smells or any other sensory details.
Then note any changes you make — do you add a little more of this, find it’s too much, so you have to adjust with a little more of that?
It’s a good idea to make a clean copy of a successful recipe, but don’t throw out the notes that set out the process for getting there. You learn from the process just as much as you learn from the finished product. There will be times when the ratios from an earlier version of the recipe-in-progress will be useful in the creation of another recipe.
And, within a couple of hours, the details of the process will flee, so the sooner you wrote them down, the sooner you can refer to them in the future and save yourself time, energy and frustration.
Take it from one who learned the hard way!