A lot of people wonder, "What is a book of shadows? Is it fact or fiction?" In fact, thousands of people type in the search term "real book of shadows" every month to try to find out. If you watch the TV show "Charmed" then you'll know that the Halliwell sisters have a giant book of spells written by their ancestors called a book of shadows. Others will take a hint from the title of the second "Blair Witch" movie, despite there being no actual book in the movie. Still others think a book of shadows is something of a personal journal for Wiccans, an idea popularized by Gerald Gardner, who brought Wiccan practices to public attention with his book "Witchcraft Today," published in 1954.
Obviously the definition of a real book of shadows varies widely in popular culture, and it does among magical and shamanic practitioners as well, depending on which tradition they practice. However, most practitioners agree on three common usages and purposes for a real book of shadows.
** 1. Record Spell Details **
A real book of shadows is used to record all the details of spells that have been cast, including the divinations used prior to casting the spell, the directors and limiters (or parameters) of the spell, the actual methods used in the spell, the results of divinations to check the progress of the spell, and any results of the spell. These details are crucial in case a spell ever goes wrong and has to be taken down. The way a practitioner takes down a spell that has already been cast depends on the way that the spell was cast. For instance, if a spell was cast using a carved candle then to take down the spell the practitioner could break the candle used in the spell and bury the remnants in the garden for a moon cycle.
** 2. Track Magical and Shamanic Research **
Magical and shamanic practitioners are often engaged in research. This research can be to discover facts about past lives, divine future events, try out new techniques, or travel to different planes. For instance, magical practitioners in our tradition will record the results of walks in the black mirror, which is a portal to other planes of existence, commonly called the half-worlds. When walking in the black mirror, the practitioner needs to use a litany or chant to direct the walk and keep from getting lost. After returning from such a walk, not only will the practitioner record the results of the walk in a real book of shadows, including any new facts or revelations, but will also record the effectiveness of the chant so that it can be used again or fine-tuned for future use.
** 3. Preserve Magic and Shamanism for the Future **
Of course, one of the most important purposes of a real book of shadows is to preserve magical and shamanic knowledge for future practitioners. Practitioners of most traditions "stand on the shoulders" of those giants who have come before. There's no real reason to keep re-inventing the wheel. A real book of shadows, which can contain the research and results of multiple generations of practitioners, is usually handed down through the generations. Each generation of practitioners (who are not necessarily related) adds their experience to the book. In fact, the material in a real book of shadows is often so voluminous that the "book" becomes a multi-volume set.
A real book of shadows is really a record of magical and shamanic experience that is preserved either for an individual's use or for future use. Some practitioners keep individual books of shadows and never hand them down, either because they have no one to hand them to or because they are secretive. In any event, if you are a practitioner of the magical arts, you should definitely start your own book of shadows. It will help you remember what you have done, track your magical experiments, and possibly create a magical asset for the future.
Copyright (c) Alan Joel 2010. All rights reserved.
You may reprint, copy or distribute complete copies of "REAL MAGICK" provided this copyright notice and a link tohttp://www.shamanschool.com is included.
If there is one thing the Pagan community has in common with the GLBT community it is being stuck in “the closet.” It still amazes me how many Pagans I meet who are struggling with coming out about their Paganism and witchcraft practices. I know their pain all too well. I am still in the broom closet with my immediate family. My family is super Conservative Christian and they have made it clear that if I even show an interest in Wicca or anything like “that” I will be disowned. It is extremely painful to hear your parents say that. I am still struggling with whether or not to come out to them. On one hand I want to be completely honest with them, to be true to myself and to be proud of my beliefs. On the other hand though, I do not know if I am ready to be completely cut off from my entire family. I already lost all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins when I married my non-Christian husband. My mother, father, and brother are all I have left on my side of the family. It is definitely a tough decision and one I stress about all the time. I feel like I am betraying myself and my Deities every time I hide my altar tools when my parents come to visit. For now that is what I choose to do though, even if it causes me pain, but I know that someday I will not have to do that. Someday I will be completely out of the broom closet! I do not know when that day will be, but I do know that at least it is my choice when that day will be.
When coming out of the broom closet it is important to remember that every person’s circumstances are unique. What worked for one person may not work for another person. Every Pagan has to come out of the broom closet at their own pace, in their own way, and in their own time! I may not be completely out of the broom closet yet, but I have learned some good tips along the way.
Tip number one: never be completely one hundred percent in your broom closet and never be alone in there. Humans are social animals we need to feel loved and accepted. If you are not able to come out to your friends or family, at least find one person you can share your Pagan beliefs with. The internet has become a great resource for many Pagans. Find a Pagan online friend, set up a secret Pagan blog, or have an openly Pagan social network account (like Facebook) under a false name. Bottom line you need to have at least one Pagan shoulder to cry on, so to speak.
Tip number two: if you cannot come out to your family find someone (or somewhere) that you can come out to in person. While online Pagan friends are a great resource there is just something freeing about telling someone in person that you are Pagan. Find a local meetup group that is Pagan friendly, come out to your co-workers, tell your yoga instructor, or tell the random cashier the next time you are paying at a store. It does not matter necessarily who you tell the point is to just tell someone. Think of it as practice. Practice coming out of the broom closet to strangers and someday when you come out to your family it will be much easier.
I can tell you from personal experience that all of these tips and ideas do work. I am still in the broom closet with my parents, but that does not mean I am in the closet with everyone else. My husband and his entire family know I am a practicing Pagan and witch. I am completely out of the closet at my work as well, in fact, I am an ambassador for the Pagan community at my job. I am in charge of running the Pagan booth and events on our diversity days at work. It is really fun and such a nice feeling to know I am making a difference for my Pagan community, even if my parents do not know what I am up to. I am an avid Pagan blogger, writer, and have a whole support system of Pagan friends online and in my local community. I may be in the broom closet still, but I am definitely not lonely in there! I am slowly making my way out of my broom closet, even if it is only one foot at a time!
I tell these people who are drawn to Paganism, but not sure what belief (or path) they want to follow, to take some time and explore the different beliefs and paths offered in Paganism. I explain to them that Wicca is Pagan but ...
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