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A general term used for books on occult subjects and particularly magic, a grimoire may acquire a reputation for potency or authority within a religious system by condemnation or reference.

Grimoires tend to have have bivalent actuality: one level being a legendary or pseudo-historical backdrop associated to the tome (sometimes inclusive of a variable content, along the lines of some religious books such as the Dhammapada), and an actual origin which may be fairly poorly known. Like religious books they may be attributed to legendary beings, or come along with some story as to how they must be used, or have been used in the past to do all manner of extraordinary feat.