Monday, June 13, 2005

Wicca’s Book of Shadows

There isn’t a “bible” that has been written for Pagan or Wiccan religions, so where do Wiccans get their information from? Most Wiccan traditions have what is called a “Book of Shadows”. These are books filled with the rituals, laws, prayers, and other information pertaining to their tradition. Each tradition’s BoS is different. For example, if you have been initiated into a Gardnerian tradition, and you have assembled your BoS throughout your training, you will most likely have a copy of Gerald Gardner’s Book of Shadow. These books are rarely shown to others outside the tradition.

Of course, the information inside may vary but many include instructions for casting a circle (for rituals), religious rituals, what an alter layout looks like, tools used, laws, prayers, and maybe even herb lore.

Those that are solitary or eclectic Wiccans tend to gather things they learn into their BoS as a way to remember what they have learned in incorperate it into their practice.
A basic outline of a Book of Shadows might be something like this:

1. Title Page
2. Laws
3. Invocations of the Goddess and Gods
4. An alter diagram
5. Circle casting and dispersing instructions
6. Rituals
7. Prayers, chants and invocations
8. Tools
9. Initiation/self-initiation ritual
10. Magical rites and information

What form can a BoS take? Some traditionalists say that you need to hand-write your BoS, copying the lessons as you learn them, from your teacher’s BoS. Others take the form of bound books, notebooks, loose-leaf paper in a three ring binder, or they might even keep their information on some kind of computer media storage device.

There are quite a few BoSs online, but many are of the fluffy bunny type. I would have liked to put a link to the Book of Shadows written by the Riders of the Crystal Wind, but I could not find a good link to it. This is one of the first examples of a Book of Shadows that I saw many years ago. It is filled with most of the above as well as articles written by the people involved. If anyone knows of a good link to this 3500+ page Book of Shadows please let me know. Here are two examples of BoSs online:

Internet Book of Shadows
Basic Book of Shadows

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