The Book of Shadows can be intimidating. Unlike other magickal tools, it is very active -meaning you have to continue to create it. It isn’t a one and done project. A witch’s Book of Shadows is never complete. We continue to study and learn throughout our lives. Part of what causes some of the block, at least when it comes to beginning, is comparison. Many think their books have to be Pinterest or Instagram worthy. Or they need to look like the book from Charmed. It’s great to have a beautiful book, but what is more important is having a book that you will work in. Use a composition notebook, typing paper, looseleaf, or a pretty journal. Use whatever! It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you are working in it.
This summer, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease after a lengthy illness. The healing process is slow, and I am still quite ill. For a while, I didn’t even think about my path even though that was the time I needed it most. I’m sure I’m not the only one who does that. The good news is that I have finished writing a long-promised course, and I’m studying my witchcraft texts again. Sometimes it is difficult to stay on the path because there is little structure. A lot of the practices are kind of whatever works or anything goes. That’s not to knock it at all. For some, this is a much needed freedom. This is a path of self-discovery and self-knowledge. Because of that, it is highly personal and can even be isolating. This is why developing personal rituals is so important.
For a personal ritual to work, it must resonate with you. Basically, it has to be meaningful. A chant can be beautifully written, but if it holds no meaning for you then it is simply a string of pretty words. Personal rituals also have to be feasible. I am the queen of grand plans, but I often leave self-knowledge on the back burner. I know myself. I know that I’m not going to sit in front of my altar for an hour every morning and meditate for an hour every evening. If I make these kinds of plans, then I feel like a crap witch for not following through. However, the problem is in the plan and not in me. I guess that’s why the first goal of “The Thirteen Goals of a Witch” is “Know Yourself.”
It is hard not having a pagan community around me (or even a bookstore. We have no bookstore!!). It’s also hard following a path that is undefined. I think that requires greater faith than something that is clearly laid out before us.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately, as I prepare to teach a course on the Book of Shadows, about what it means to be a witch. It is such a personal and, thus, flexible definition that it can be scary. It can be hard to say, “Yes, I’m a witch,” if we haven’t clearly defined the term for ourselves. For a long time, I struggled to define myself. In fact, I still struggle.
I used to think I was not really a witch because I didn’t like to cast circles, perform intricate rituals, or participate in high ceremonial magick. Personally, I’d rather light a candle and focus on my intent. I like pendulum magick because of it’s simplicity too. I don’t like things that are complicated. The cunning arts, crafts, and home remedies pull me more than anything else. As a result, though, its harder for me to feel connected to others on this path or to find books that truly speak to me.
In an effort to reconnect with what I consider my witch roots, I will be reading Laurie Cabot’s The Power of the Witch: The Earth, the Moon, and the Magical Path to Enlightenment. I’ve started in the past but never finished it. I’m also going to be reading Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess. Believe or not, I’ve never read anything by Starhawk even though her books have been on my wishlist forever. I also going to restart Marian Green’s A Witch Alone: Thirteen Moons to Master Natural Magic.
This will be difficult for me. I’ve noticed in the past year or so that it is much harder for me to focus on my reading, especially when it is nonfiction. I also lose interest quickly. My therapist thinks this might be due to a possible mood disorder. Perhaps having this site will give me the impetus to finish so I can share reviews. Another part of the issue is what using a smart phone is doing to my brain (that’s for another conversation though).
What texts are/were important to your spiritual foundation?
Welcome to my blog. This is a place for us to discuss issues that relate to the witchy community. As an artist, I will often feature my works in progress as well. My main focus of study is using art as a way to connect with my spiritual path.