The Contemporary New England Witch

The Contemporary New England Witch
Ms Faith

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Your Book of Shadows . . . my what?

 Good Evening,

For those who may be taken aback by tonight's discussion title, ( I hear murmurs 'Book of Shadows, of course! I know what a book of Shadows is, hrmph! I'm a witch after all! I mean really!) No offense intended, (gentle laugh) for I design my discussions for the novice learner. I like to look at, then re-examine and then some, the basics of what we do as witches. 

I have left behind, a long while ago, learning exclusively from others. Do Not Get Me Wrong! I still can and do learn from the Magickal Masters (my phrase for such esteemed writers as Raymond Buckland, Janet Farrar & Gavin Bone, Raven Grimassi, Stephanie Taylor-Grimassi, Laurie Cabot and Silver Ravenwolf to name a few of my favorites) And heed my words well. When you have gotten to a place where you no longer learn, and you're all about teaching and telling others the way things are, you've made a misstep, in my opinion.

NEVER stop learning. Yet you will find it a natural progression along this path that as you learn, practice and experience more, then your lessons come from your experience far more often than from others experiences. This is good. But don't think you can no longer learn from others. This speaks of ego and perhaps a touch of .  .  .  o.k. I'll say it .  .  . 'power-tripping'.  Yes, there it is.  I find the older I get, and the centuries fly by my witchlings, trust me! But, the older I get, the more humble I feel in what I have yet to learn, experience and discover.

So for those who do not already know it, a Book of Shadows is a journal of magickal record keeping.  I'll touch on just a few concepts surrounding the Book fo Shadows and as I do, I hope to dispel some misunderstandings or complete and total fabrications concerning this mysterious aspect of witchcraft.

The term Book of Shadows is thought to have its origins in ancient Sandskrit, and an alleged booklet reputed to divining the future by the length of a person's shadow. Gerald Gardner was the first to introduce this concept, a book of magickal writing called a Book of Shadows, so it's origins go back to the 1950's.   Earlier books were called Grimoires, which were also books designed to contain magickal spells, ritual practices and other occult knowledge.

I'm not going to debate its origins because it really matters not. Today, a magickal practitioner can use many forms for a book of shadows.  You can hand write one in a journal or notebook, keep on on your computer to print out pages as needed for use in ritual. A scrapbook concept is also a nice idea. Many practitioners like myself have more than one.You can have a spell Book of Shadows, one for rituals, one for dreams, magickal encounters, Sabbats, esbats, kitchen witchery, potions and incense etc. They are as diverse and as unique as you are. You may like to work with one volume or with multiple volumes.  It's all and totally up to you.

If you are practicing and do not have a Book of Shadows yet, please consider creating one.  I would love to say that over the years my memory has sharpened and I can remember a spell or incantation I cast last year like it was yesterday. Um .  .  . er .  .  .  it's just not so.  I'm afraid dearies, it won't be the same for you either.  The rituals, gatherings, feasts all come flowing back when I look through my Books of Shadows. Some are just picture albums of old friends, coven members and past encounters.

A few tid bits of advice from this Contemporary New England Witch:  (These might tick off some of those in the magickal communities but these are my opinions, and as such I stick by them)

Never buy a pre-created Book of Shadows.  Oh .  .  .  did you hear that? I think I heard cauldrons dropping all over the place!! But I stand by what I say. Create your own. I've seen covens on social media sites selling Books of Shadows created and 'possibly' used by others. I say possibly because we can all go to a craft store nowadays, with a good base blank journal and create an amazingly looking Book of Shadows. Spill some red ink here and there, perhaps some tea (great coloring agent by the way used all the time to make new paper materials look ancient and dated) paste a few obscure photos of witchy people doing witchy things, in black and white of course.  Paste a few twigs of various trees, grasses or herbs and pen a few clever incantations.  Tell everyone how you've been creating this for yearrrrrs (even though the binding has no wear on it, but the pages look beat to hell? hmmm You get where I'm coming from? Oh, yes and these will sell for several hundred if not a grand.  I'm not kidding. Some of you have seen the same.  Why am I a skeptic? Publicly accusing some of  .  .  .  'misrepresentation' . . . shall we say?

Simply because as a witch, my spells are creations of me. My rituals are sacred and special. The work I put into my Books of Shadows I do just for me, and for my use.  There's no way in a Christian Hell would I EVER sell my Book of Shadows. Period.  I mean would you? No, not the one you create just to sell to those less aware, but one you have worked on, put love, energy, magick and lots and lots of precious time in. Would you sell it?  Money has little place in witchcraft. Now, I'm not saying we don't need money as witches, we do. But there are tons of ways to legitimately make money from our skills, without misrepresentation. Read tarot cards, crystal balls and rune divinations like myself. Or perhaps you sell potions, herbs and incense, also like me.  Hey, I know, you could even hand-make really cool Books of Shadows and keep the pages blank for the practitioner to put his own work into. Some of these types of books are available and they also cost several hundreds of dollars, but are marketed accurately and without all the fun work done for you.

Let's say that the Books of Shadows marketed by others, used in others covens for others magickal workings are authentic. O.K. Why would I need it? Now, notice I didn't ask why would I want it? I understand how many of us would like and appreciate other magickal tools and work made by other of the magickal community,  and if you're a collector then fine. But to buy as it was marketed, for others to use for their own personal Book of Shadows? For almost 1,000 dollars?  Maybe I'm just too New England, because I'm having a hard time swallowing it. 

Now this debate can go back and forth, as Gerald Gardener was the 'originator' of the Book of Shadows and he allowed coven memebers to copy the parts they found relevant, but nowhere do I see him counseling that one copy the entire book, although some covens make this a requirement and they can! It might be nice to have a coven Book of Shadows if I had ever had a High Priestess I worked with who was organized, but alas that was never my experience. I keep my own and so can you. It needn't be expensive and truly if you have hundreds or a thousand dollars to spend on someone else's magickal workings then that's great for you!! I'm a bit narcissistic with my magick, I believe the best magick for me comes from within me. Period.

You can hand write your Book of Shadows or print it out on the computer, whatever feels best for you.  Here's pictures of some of my own Books of Shadows throughout the years!  





These are some of my oldest Books of Shadows that took on a book form. Many were handouts printed on single sheets of paper and passed out to us by my first High Priestess.  The first two photos in this series of pictures is the current book for Enchantments. 

Peace and Happiness!


 © 2010-2011 Enchantments, LLC Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see www.enchantmentsschool.com or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. 

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