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.
It's Watery Wednesday and with that comes our Community news post of the week: Canadian Pagans gathering; the Wild Hunt looks back at 2014; an Australian kickstarter; Starhawk as model leader?; witchcraft = Wicca, or not?
The Canadian Gaia Gathering Conference (one of the biggest Pagan gatherings in Canada) is open for registration. (They are looking for presenters, too!) The conference for 2015 will be in Edmonton, Alberta May 15th to 18th.
Want to catch up on last year's hottest news stories in the Pagan world? The Wild Hunt's 2014 retrospective should do the trick.
Next week my coven will be celebrating the Winter Solstice and instead of writing this blog post I should be writing our sabbat ritual. I'm sure the inspiration will come, eventually, but for now I'm going to continue to procrastinate (and perhaps daydream about an Oak King/Holly King scenario).
The PaganNewsBeagle took off last week (our internet went down!) but we are back in the saddle. In today's Airy Monday segment, we concentrate on academic issues of interest to Pagans and their allies. Magpie Wicca?; degrees of British traditional Wicca; Pagans and the land; Novo Religio (an academic magazine devoted to New Religious Movements); the World Religions and Spirituality Project.
Is Wicca inherently syncretic? Sable Aradia says "yes!" and offers ideas as to the difference Wicca's borrowing of ideas from many paths makes in inter-Pagan relations.
I'm not sure that every coven unrelated to a specific tradition needs a "Book of Shadows." I probably wanted one for my coven because I have strange control issues. After finding a ritual structure that worked for our circle I wanted to get it all down on paper, and share it with everyone in our little group. For our group a BoS made perfect sense because we work the same way ritual to ritual.
A BoS is not necessarily a rigid, never-changing book of instructions, but it often contains ideas that consistently work. If the quarter calls I'm using "work" why would I want to change them every month or so? I also think there's real power in repeating a ritual structure over and over again. It takes the guess work out of ritual and creates an atmosphere that lets the mind and spirit quickly ease into ritual mode. When my coven's opening chant starts I'm in "work mode" and instantly push outside concerns away.
The other day a member of my coven offered to lead an upcoming ritual. I was extremely pleased by this development. Though my wife and I often function as the "High Priestess" and "High Priest" of our group we didn't start this endeavor with the idea that we would run every ritual. It's nice to just sit back sometimes and participate instead of having to stand forward and "lead."
I know that our group is kind of set up in a such a way that it often looks like I'm in charge. My wife and I started our coven, we selected our initial circle-mates, and I organized our week to week gatherings. As time went on we adopted a formal ritual structure, which I wrote.