Book of Shadows

PaganGreen Paganism and Witchcraft

Whether you are working alone or in a coven, you might like to start a Book of Shadows, a record of
rituals that have worked well, names of those who need healing and herbal brews and incenses that are
especially evocative. In time, this will become a source not only of reference but also of inspiration to
you. Books of Shadows are so-called because early witches kept them secret for fear of persecution.
They were often burned or buried with witches who died.
You may decide to have two Books of Shadows, one as a permanent record, traditionally copied out
by hand, and the other an ongoing working almanac in which you note moon phases for the month. If
you are working in a group that includes someone with a mathematical bent, they can calculate and
note here the times of the day at which particular planets and angels hold sway .You can also note the phases of the Moon. I find a
diary section of a Filofax serves well, but if this information is kept on computer, then copies can be
printed out if required for other members.
Some covens keep a single main Book of Shadows in a safe place. From this, members – especially
new ones – can copy rituals and magical lore in their own smaller Books of Shadows, which can then
be handed down in future times to any member of their family who shows an interest in such matters
as they reach adulthood.
Apart from the suggestions I have made for possible rituals and books you can read, there are
countless Books of Shadows on the Internet that can act as inspiration. There are no rules set in stone;
rituals carried out in love and even laughter, perhaps when a candle will not light, are far more
effective than the most elaborate ceremony in which everyone is so focused on getting it right.
If the ritual rather than the intent is all, the power becomes dissipated and anxiety blocks the innate
magick we all experienced as children. Magick works best when we can leave behind our innate
demands for precision and order. The more formal and lengthy rituals may act as a powerful aid to
focus, but they may, equally, ignore the importance of learning through experience and the heart.