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Books of Shadows vs. Disks of Shadows

To: alt.pagan
From: Raven 
Subject: Re: Books of Shadows vs. "Disks" of Shadows
Date: 24 Dec 1994 17:17:40 GMT

Quoting: |P. Besso  

|I am new to paganism, and I have been hearing a lot about the book
|of shadows. What is it, and where could I possibly get a copy of it.
|I have tried all of the book stores, but they say it is out of print.
|If you could help me out I would Be much obliged.

This constitutes a Frequently Asked Question, and should be added to the
FAQ file.  In the meantime, here's a first approximation:

A Book of Shadows (BoS), or Grimoire, is a notebook of magical practice,
containing teachings and lore, rituals and recipes, spells and songs,
and anything else suitable to the purposes the author has in mind.

You may or may not come across books of this sort in libraries and
bookstores -- The_Grimoire_of_Lady_Sheba is one such title -- but those
are OTHER PEOPLE'S books of shadows.  YOUR book of shadows is a book
you compile yourself, using a nicely bound "blank book" and beautiful
calligraphy, or a spiral-bound notebook and ballpoint pen, or looseleaf
and pencil, or any other materials you choose.  Some people store their
notes on a computer diskette, and call this a Disk of Shadows (DoS).
It doesn't matter whether you type it or handwrite it; it is YOURS.

What goes into a BoS (or DoS)?  You decide.  It's YOUR notebook.

Good candidates for inclusion would be anything you might have trouble
remembering if you DON'T write them down:  words to rituals, poems,
chants, songs, stories, even favorite quotations; vital facts about
herbs; recipes; astrological or symbolical correspondences; chronicles
of your experiences; ideas for future activities.  What matters to YOU.

Depending on your particular religious tradition, there may be texts
considered "scriptural", such as passages from Aradia, or Gardner and
Valiente's "Charge of the Goddess", or "The Laws" ("Ordains") that are
held as rules within the Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions.  If you
join such a tradition, your teacher should provide such texts to you.

Where do you find texts to put into your BoS (or DoS)?  Wherever.

If you have a teacher in a BoS-using tradition, he or she may allow
you to copy items from his or her own BoS (or DoS), or may read aloud
sections for you to write down.  (There are strong injunctions in some
traditions to never let your own BoS out of your own hands, so don't
insist on borrowing someone else's BoS, and NEVER pick up or read one
without the owner's permission!)  Perhaps you have favorite passages
from published books -- write them down.  (Copyrighted material should
not be republished or distributed... but this is your own private copy.)
If you learn worthwhile things from ANY source -- write them down.
If you get completely original ideas -- write them down.

There is no One True Way to write a Book of Shadows, although a given
coven's members may choose to follow a consistent format.  If you do
belong to such a group, remember that nothing prevents you from having
more than one BoS, and the OTHER volumes can have whatever you want.

As a practical matter, write your BoS in such a way that you can find
the material you want when you want it.  You may want one section, or a
separate volume, for instance, to hold just the rituals for coven work
-- written for high visibility.  There are funny stories about people
who composed intricately calligraphed BoS's they had trouble reading
by moonlight deep in the woods.  One person had a lovely BoS inscribed
in silver ink... which became completely invisible in moonlight.

-- Raven (JSingle@Music.Lib.MATC.Edu).  [All standard disclaimers apply]

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