Amongst Wiccans and Witches, a book of shadows—often referred to as a BOS—is usually a collection of texts used in rituals, such as ritual scripts and stage directions, poetry and songs, spells, invocations, techniques and teachings, recipes, and sometimes ritual notes or journal entries. These items can be bound in an actual book, written into a blank book, stored in three-ring binders, or kept as Word or PDF files. We use the somewhat old-school “Great Green Three-Ringed Binder of the Arte” because it’s easy to rearrange pages and I don’t want to spill candle wax on a tablet. Everything in our circles seems to end up with wax on it. Some people even choose to write their books in calligraphy to infuse the book with their personal energy.
Types of Books of Shadows
There’s no one right way to keep a BOS, but they tend to fall into one of three categories.
for my words are written on the hearts of my people.
Muhammad was right.
There are the ahl al-kitâb—the People of the Book—and then there are the pagans.
One of the things that impresses me most about the New Paganisms—and this is one of the ways in which we have remained most true to the ways of the ancestors—is that, from our very beginnings, we have been, and remain, non-scriptural religions. Occasional jokes about Edda-thumping aside (“Snorri said it, I believe it, That settles it”), we have, for the most part, managed to dodge the silver bullet of Canon. In a world in which religions are defined by their scriptures, this is an impressive achievement, rendered all the more striking by the apparently unconscious nature of the decision.
Many thanks to Nick Sagala for sharing his traditions with us ♥
Dia de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead--is a holiday dear to the hearts and souls of people who love their ancestors. The Santa Muerte is the goddess connected to Dia de los Muertos. She pre-dates Christianity in that part of the world, and the Mexica knew her as MICTECACIHUATL, Lady of the Land of the Dead. She was believed to be a protector of souls residing in the dark underworld, and she is depicted as a woman in a skull mask and traditional dress decorated with flags which were put upon corpses prepared for cremation.
I opened up my Facebook account today and was greeted by a long discussion focusing on cultural appropriation, vis-a-vis belly dancing. It appeared to be based on a Salon article titled "Why I can't stand white belly dancers."
The first thing that struck me was the confrontational nature of the headline: It wasn't belly dancing performed by white people that the author couldn't stand, it was the belly dancers themselves. If this doesn't put people on the defensive, I don't know what will. Then again, it's part of the inflammatory nature of online "journalism" these days, which uses hot-button language to increase the number of hits. (Full disclosure: I'm white, but I'm no belly dancer, and belly dancing isn't something I go out of my way to watch.)
But this article is not about him: the death of pets, even the best-loved, is in my opinion a matter for private, not public, mourning.
But the death of a household member occasioned some serious thought on the matter of the rituals with which we meet such an event in the home. As a community, we've been strong on public ritual and weak on household observance, and in this we differ greatly from the ancestors, who held both to be of equal necessity. The last death in my household had occurred almost 10 years previously, and at the time I pretty much winged it. But since then my thinking has matured (or so I like to tell myself), and so when Gremlin died I followed Ceisiwr Serith's advice: when confronted with a new situation, consult ancestral precedent.