The other day, I was asked by a (very non-magical) friend why I use a fountain pen to autograph books. After all, there are many less-expensive alternatives on the market today. The answer to me was simple but it took about thirty minutes to explain it to him: the ink I use is specifically charged.
Charged ink is useful if your spell requires something written; if you’re doing sigil work; or for entering something really important in your journal. It adds a little oomph to your project (or signature ;)).
Many people think that black ink is was all that was available until modern times. Nay, not so! As early as 1200 BCE, scribes were using colored inks made from plant materials and in many cultures, a specific color ink carried a ritual meaning. For a lot of people, that holds true today.
Making magical ink can be very difficult or very easy. It depends on how much time & energy you’re willing to put into it. Difficult is making ink from soot. Once upon a time, ink was made from the soot produced by burning oil lamps, hence the name lampblack. You can accomplish the same thing with soot from a burning candle, burning wood or resin incense. Light your chosen source and hold a spoon a couple of inches above the flame or smoke column. Eventually you’ll see a layer of soot form on the spoon. Scrape that off with a knife into a bowl. (I recommend doing this in a place you don’t mind getting black. The flakes won’t always cooperate & float directly into the bowl.) Repeat. Repeat again, ad nauseum. It takes awhile. Once you have enough soot collected in your bowl, thin it just a bit with distilled water and voilá, black ink.
A little easier is to soak about a tablespoon of crushed Dragon’s Blood resin in five tablespoons of clear alcohol (grain alcohol works best but vodka is OK, too). When the two substances have combined well (about an hour), strain out any remaining resin and add a little gum arabic or gum traganth to thicken. Dragon’s Blood is the only resin (to my knowledge) that will produce a legible (red) ink. Everything else comes out clear.
Easier yet is to crush some fresh berries, strain out the pulp and use the juice. Pokeberries are widely known as an ink source; as is a relative of Holly, Ilex glabra, commonly known as ‘Inkberry’. However, even the blueberries you pick up at the store will work.
And the lazy man’s charged ink: purchase a bottle of ink at the store, add a few drops of an appropriate essential oil and your own energy. Don’t go overboard on the essential oil or the ink won’t adhere to the page: no more than fifteen drops to an ounce of ink. (I did try soaking dried herb in commercial ink, as if making a tincture. It didn’t work as well as I would have liked. It was a rather expensive experiment but you don’t know until you try, do you?)
I generally use a calligraphy pen (dipping-style, not reservoir-style) because then I only have to charge a very small amount of ink for whatever I’m working on. I’ve been doing this for years so I know about how much I’ll need for a given project. Waste not, want not, y’know. A friend has one bottle she uses specifically for writing in her journal. I have an entire bottle of charged ink for autographing … I hope to be doing a lot of this in years to come!