‘The Book of Shadows is a collection of magical and religious texts of Wicca and other Neopagan witchcraft traditions. It is usually considered a scared toll and an item of power that should be consecrated along with all other magical tools.’ (Source)
There are some witchcraft traditions where there is but one Book of Shadows per coven, and that text is updated with new information or spells, and is subsequently passed down from teacher (elders) to students. However, there are other witchcraft traditions where the Book of Shadows a Book of Shadows is ‘more of a personal magical journal rather than a traditional text, and it exists to record rituals, spells and their results, and other magical information of an individual or coven, and is not normally passed from teacher to student.’ (Source)
- Gerald Gardner, the "father of modern Wicca", claimed to have produced the first Book of Shadows, and he is believed to have originated the term sometimes in the 1940s-50s. However, the concept of a Book of Shadows originates from the magical handbooks and or guides of grimoires.
- Can contain coven initiation rituals
- Magical practices
- Guides for Invocations
- Herbal and Healing Lore
- ‘Traditionally, the Book of Shadows was always hand-written by the individual, and a common custom for new initiates into a coven was to hand-copy the teacher’s Book of Shadows exactly as it appeared, and then later to add their own material as they progressed in the craft. Some Wiccans keep two Books of Shadows: one book of core rituals which does not change, and from which new initiates copy; and another coven book for ritual use, which is different from group to group and may contain much added material, some of it traded between covens. Today, however, with the advantages of technology, they are often typed and photocopied, or even computerized onto discs or websites.’ (Source)
- Traditionally, a witch’s personal Book of Shadows is destroyed alongside his or her body when she or he dies.
- There are some traditions of witchcraft that hold the Book of Shadows as a scared and ‘secret’ text. Therefore, it is not allowed to be read by those who are not part of that specific coven—and is forbidden to be ‘published’ in any public venue, i.e. traditional publishers, internet, etc.
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