rites and rituals

Always remember:

you are a witch. You are not controlled by the universe, but rather, you are in control of the universe. You are a child of the universe and as a witch you are as one with the universe. Your magick, your intent and your belief in that intent, is more powerful than anything in the cosmos. Goddesses and Gods don’t listen to you, aid you, and enter your circle to witness your rites because They’re bored; They come to you when you call Them because They know you hold an unmatched, unbridled power and are humbled and honored when you seek Them to help strengthen and empower your already Universe-altering magick. You are a healer among the wounded. You are a seeker among the lost. You are awake among the sleeping. You are a force to be reckoned with.

You are a witch.

15 more ideas for your BOS!

Since our last list went down so well, we thought we would put our heads together and think of 15 more ideas for your book!

Let’s get started, in no particular order:

1.       Something to protect your book, I can’t believe this was not on our previous list! Bless your book/protective sigils, something to protect from wandering or prying eyes.

2.       Update your path page (if you have one, or start one) basically saying what your path is, and what is important to you – know this was in the other list, but we believe our practice changes from one year to the next so keep it updated.

3.       Do you have an altar? If so how about a section dedicated to it? How you set it up for ritual, for each sabbat/season (if it changes), life events, for offerings! Keep all that info together, and add pictures and photos.

4.       An ancestor page, where are your ancestors from? Is there anyone you would like to honour? Anyone who has really shaped who you are as a person? Write about them.

5.       Familiars, do you have one? What do you know about them? Have you had one in the past? Write about it.

6.       Tools. Write a list of the tools that are in your practice and how you use them, keep it updated.

7.       Rites/rituals/blessings/recipes that mean something to you and your practice, or ones that you have done, and how they went.

8.       A list of any active charges, wards, sigils that you have running at the moment.

9.       How you meditate

10.   How you ground yourself

11.   How you centre yourself

12.   How you create a sigil

13.   Have you had experience with spirits, done any spirit work? Write about it?

14.   Have you got experience with binding? Or banishing? Write about them.

15.   Draw/paint/be creative.

16.   Bonus! Have you picked up any witchy life hacks? Or little witchy tips? Write them all down in one place.

amie.

what to put in a grimoire

Stuff that is relevant to you. Don’t waste time and effort filling out pages of astrology if you aren’t interested in astrology. If you are never going to use the page for that information, don’t waste the page on it. Don’t be worried about what other witches have in their book. This is your book, not everyone’s. And if you are planning on creating some fantastic book that you’ll pass down to your future witch children, know that the your first one probably isn’t going to be the one you’ll want to pass down anyway. Likely information you once thought was important you’ll later find doesn’t matter to you at all. Let your first book be the one you can mess up and explore in. You need room to learn and grow, not worry about every little detail of what you might be missing.

With that said, here is a list of ideas for what you might want to put in your grimoire. This is a collection of ideas taken from all over. Remember to fearlessly scratch things that you aren’t honestly interested in:

-A book blessing/protection to protect it from wandering eyes

-Your personal pages: a page about you and your goals for the craft, the day you decided to be a witch, your natal chart/zodiac info for you and/or your so/birth tarot cards or birth playing card, your craft name or personal sigil if you have one, any psychic abilities you have

-A page for your personal correspondences: your signature herbs/rocks/scent/sound/animal, your craft name/sigil

-A page for your familiar/s if you have any: their given/secret name, their sigil, info about when you met them and when they left/died, what they helped you with, what they like, how they can be contacted

-A portrait of your shadow self

-A list of your current witch tools, where you got them, whats special about them, how they were consecrated (if they were), etc

-An ancestor page: this could be your family tree, pictures of your deceased, locations of graves, etc

-Info about the plants/animals/rocks in your area

-The wheel of the year, if that’s applicable to you

-Esbat/Sabbat information if that’s applicable (personally I only observe the full moon)

-The monthly moon names if you observe the changing of the moon: you can google and see which ones speak to you, or since they’re outdated you can make up your own (for instance I have a Coyote moon because the coyotes howl outside my house, rather than a Wolf moon)

-Any rites/rituals/songs/poems/pictures/quotes/spells/recipes/etc that are important to you and/or your practice.

-A page to keep a list of all your active spells/wards/enchanted items

-Deity: history/picture/correspondence of any deity you are interested in, for secret witches you can have an altar for them inside your book, entries of your relationship/experience with them, family tree of the pantheon if applicable. Even if you worship an entire pantheon, you don’t need to have a page for everyone in the pantheon. And even if you are a secular witch, you can still make a deity page if you so decide.

-Divination info for the practices you’re interested in: history, correspondence cheat sheet, any spreads you think are important, record your readings, a pendulum board in your book if you’ll use it

-Sigils: how to create/charge, sigils you’ve found helpful

-Astrology: natal chart, zodiac info, calendar for planetary retrograde/moon phases/celestial events (meteor showers, etc)

-Cleansing, Protection, and Banishing methods

-Meditation, Centering, Grounding and Shielding methods/techniques/symbols/pictures

-Dreamwork: a dictionary of your personal recurring dream symbols, a collection of your dreams written/drawn

-Spiritwork: any spirits you are or have been in contact with and basic information

-Correspondences (remember to think about what your correspondence is and not what some list on tumblr tells you): herbs, rocks and crystals, animals,metals, moon phases, planets, planetary retrograde, colors, directions, your witch tools (this is mostly kitchen tools for me)

An index in the back for organization

Ta Moko (tattooing) has always been an important part of Maori culture. Receiving tattoos is an important step to maturity and there are many rites and rituals associated with the event. Every member of a Maori indigenous group had a specific role and a specific place within the social order.

The Haka war dance, meant to intimidate the enemy, is one of the best-known cultural traditions of the Maori. These dances are accompanied by song and body percussion created by clapping hands, stomping feet and slapping thighs. The dance itself involves energetic postures representing warlike and aggressive poses.

Maori chanting follows very strict rules. To break a chant in midstream is to invite disaster or even death for a community. These chants often tell of family lines or the exploits of ancestors.

An individual’s place within society was often signified by their garments and tattoos. People of high social status were always tattooed, whereas indigenous men with no tattoos were considered worthless.


Ideas for Your Grimoire

Ideas for your Grimoire (or a journal/collection/file similar to a Grimoire):
• Diary Entries

• Meditative Pages

- Inducing different states, emotions, 
trances, mindsets, and triggers for spells, 
realms, etc.

• Spirit Communication

• Symbol Meanings

- Alchemy, elements, zodiac, Futhark Runes, 
your own, etc.

• Symbology

- Animals, mythical creatures, any items

• Herbology

- Both medicinal and metaphysical

• Chakra Meanings

- Or Energy Points, whatever you refer to 
them as or similar points that you use in
your craft

• Healing Methods

• Divination Methods

• Spells

• Rituals

• Rites

• Incantations

• Portals

• Deity Worship

- If you worship any deities of any sort, you
can include them in your Grimoire if you’d
like

• Deep Feelings

• (Divination) Readings

• Notes from Your Books

• Research in General

• Mythology

• Egregores

- Thought forms, concepts

• Coding Methods

• Psychic-Gathered Information

• Spell/Craft Logs

• Correspondences to Easy-to-Get Supplies
and Substitutes

• Key Things You’ve Discovered in magic, the Paranormal, the Astral, the future, your abilities, etc.

• What Colors Mean to You

• Lore!

• Traditional Known Methods

• Urban Methods

• Your Methods!

• Potions

- They don’t always HAVE to be all herb-
based, just so you know. There’s plenty of 
magic in fruits and veggies.

• Correspondences/Your Own Correspondences

• Craft and Food Recipes

• Blessings, Curses/Jinxes/Hexes, 
Enchantments

• Spirit Friends

• Things about your Past Life

- If you’ve reincarnated (or have past lives in
your beliefs or… Well.. Anything that gives 
you a past life)

• Your Passions

• Your Morals

• Fun Activities You Find/Make

• Astral Travel Experiences

2

Offering to Demeter I, The Eleusinian Mysteries, hand carved silver ring by Moon & Serpent

Demeter is the goddess of the harvest, who presided over grains and the fertility of the earth. She and her daughter Persephone were the central figures of the Eleusinian Mysteries that predated the Olympian pantheon.

Ancestors: What Types there are and How to work with them

Introduction:

What is Ancestral Veneration

Ancestral Veneration is one of the most ancient religious and spiritual practices.  The respect and belief in an afterlife as well as honoring ancestors can be traced back to paleolithic mankind.   It is believed that honoring our ancestors was the first religious and spiritual form of ritual work.  From ways the dead were buried to views of the afterlife ancestors and the dead were never far from the mind of our paleolithic ancestors, and for some this truth remains today.

Ancestral veneration is not worshiping our ancestors, at least not in the common sense of worship. Ancestral veneration is more like honoring the dead in a respectful way.  Its a belief that they are still with us in a spirit form.  That they can hear us and can effect our lives from the other side.  Its a belief that our ancestors like other spirits can help us become the best person we can be and to live the life that we really want and desire.

There are exchanges of offerings and gifts.  This isn’t worship.  In some ways I think of it like when I put a flower on my ancestors grave.  Its giving something to them to signify that you remember them and care for them.  These gifts can be basically anything.  Though some cultures do have rules against some items being given to different spirits.
In some cultures flowers are only for the dead and it’s ok to leave offerings to the dead till they rot as this signifies they have taken everything.  In other cultures and practices only water is offered to the dead.   Even Christianity has mention of the value of prayer for the dead.  Working with and honoring our ancestors is a powerful spiritual path and there are many ways to go about it.

The act of the gift and the offering is the important thing though.  Its through these exchanges that relationships with our ancestors can develop and grow.  Its believed that a gift will ensure a gift.  Its also believed that because the dead and our ancestors are beyond the veil they have access to energy and powers of the universe that we don’t so by asking them to help us in our work and our lives they can tap into those energies for us.  Granted they dont help us unless we help ourselves.  So the gifts symbolize our part to do our work.

Many religions and traditions have celebrations and days of the dead.  Halloween, All saints and All Souls day,  Samhain, Dia de los Muertos(Mexican Day of the dead), The Bon Festival (Japan), and Pitru Paksha (Fortnight of the Ancestors-Hindu) are different festivals in different cultures.  They have one thing in common.  They are all festivals to honor the dead and the ancestors.  These are only a handful of celebrations that exist to celebrate ancestors and the dead.  The point is that the concept of honoring the dead is still alive and well in this world today.

The practice of honoring the dead is starting to become more common in Pagan practices today as well.  Part of that is that many of us are reclaiming this practice.  It was a part of ancient pagan traditions, so the practice was largely destroyed in the west.  For many reclaiming ancestral veneration as a part of our practice not only connects us to our more recent ancestors and keeps our passed loved ones in our lives, but it also allows us to reach the deepest ancestors we have which can be powerful guides for those starting down pagan paths.

Personal Development of Ancestor work

One of the reasons I am writing this post today is in honor of a new ancestor.  A loved one of mine has just crossed the veil.  It is this passing that has once again made me think about working with my ancestors and how is really always been a central part of my practice.  I haven’t always considered the contact with my ancestors and the shrines to my past loved ones ancestral veneration.  I thought it was simply remembering them and keeping them alive.

Ancestor veneration is a large part of my practice and spiritual work.  My ancestors have a lot to teach me.   I have an ancestor altar that I pray at everyday. While it is a strong part of my practice these days, ancestral veneration and honoring has not always been a large part of my path.  In fact it was at one point something I really only did on the festival of the dead (Samhain) as that was the focus.  I thought that was really all that was needed, and at the time maybe that was for my best.

When I started to practice witchcraft I had recently lost my Grandmother.  Many of the psychics and readings I had done at the time confirmed that she was staying close to me as a spirit guide (I was having dreams of her). So I started working with my ancestors through a single ancestor as a spirit guide.  That was 17 years ago.  Now I have an altar to all my ancestors as I have learned that any of our ancestors can be our guides and guardians.

Originally I didn’t offer any prayers, or much to my ancestors.  I would simply say hello to them when I needed to feel their presence.  I had a place of memory for them where I could see them and keep them in my life.  Then when I started to explore traditional witchcraft as a religious and spiritual practice I heard of the concept of giving them offerings and having shrines and altars to them.  So I created one and started an ancestral prayer working.

The practice with ancestral veneration got even deeper when I started to explore Germanic paganism and found I had Germanic ancestry.  When I read how they honored their ancestors and the powers of wyrd and Oorlog I decided that I had to develop my relationship even further.  So I started to work them into Germanic rites and rituals through the phrases “The Alfar and the Disir”

There was a time when I stopped practicing basically everything.  Then I started to explore Hoodoo.  My interest and desires to understand magic and witchcraft returned.  Through this I found more focus on ancestors and honoring your culture.  I found that ancestors will be powerful allies in spells as well as in meditations and trance work.  So through Hoodoo my work with my ancestors started to develop further and I learned new prayers to use for my ancestors.

Now today I have a prayer I say to them every morning and I have a prayer I say every evening to my ancestors.  I give them offerings when I perform rituals and I invite them into my ritual circles.  They have a part of my day to day life and my spiritual life. I couldn’t imagine my spiritual work without my ancestors at all.  They are always there for me and they always will be.  I may not be able to physically hold them and see them, but when I need them I can feel them and I know they are always there for me.

The types of ancestors:

Being adopted my ancestors actually come in different forms and types.  Not all of my ancestors are of the blood.  Some are of the spirit and some are of the heart.  I have legal blood ancestors and blood ancestors.  I have ancestors in all of my families that I don’t know but are my allies through the bonds of the heart and the spirit.  I even have ancestors that are not really in my family at all but are in my spiritual family. All of these ancestors have roles to play in my life and I honor them all.

I dont consider ancestors limited to just the blood and the heart though.This post is going to discuss the different ancestors I have through my adoption and my spiritual practices and how I can honor and work with each of them.  For the longest time I didn’t engage in ancestral veneration because of my adoption.  I wasn’t sure if I should honor my ancestors of my adoption, my foster family, or my biological family.  Thinking about this also was painful so while I wanted to honor my ancestors I didn’t go about it until I had answered my confusion.

How I came to see the types of Ancestors

That was how I came to see the different ancestral lines.  One year I went to the local Pagan Pride day.  I typically attend a few of the workshops that go on.  This year there was one about ancestral work and contacting your ancestors.  The key component of that workshop was a meditation on ancestral lines.  During this meditation I saw three lines of ancestral blood flowing from my body.  There was a fourth that was some what gray at the time and today its now clear.

It was then I knew that I was to honor all of my ancestors.  Those of my foster family, my blood or biological family, and my adoptive family.  It was through this work that I came to see that there are many different types of ancestors and that not everyone will have access to blood ancestors.  Through these meditations and concepts I came to see that there are
four primary types of ancestral allies: You have your ancestors of the Blood, your ancestors of the heart, and the ancestors of the spirit.  Adoptive ancestors are actually a mixture of two types which I will get into in the next sections as well as being their own type of ancestor.

Ancestors of The Blood

Every one is familiar with the concept of blood ancestors.  These are those of your family or blood line that goes back generations.  These are the strongest allies that one can have.  These are the ancestors that everyone thinks about when they think of ancestors.  Ancestors of the blood also include ancestors gained through marriage and long term committed relationships.  When I got engaged to my fiance his ancestors joined mine and mine his.  We are a family unit.  These ancestors go back generations on each side.  So the lines of blood ancestors are very long.

These are the strongest allies that you can have as a spirit.  They are the ones that have your best interest at heart.   Through the strands of Fate, and the workings of Wyrd we are always directly connected to our ancestors.  Our actions reflect them as much as their actions reflect on us.  So we need to honor them in our lives and we need to keep them close to us.  Before any other spirit is petitioned the ancestors will work stronger for you and faster for you. There is little that is stronger than the power of the blood.

Adoptive Ancestors

For me I also have my adoptive ancestors,  These are the ancestors of my adoptive family.  They are the family that raised me and that belongs to me.  In ancient cultures at times the roles of the blood ancestors would be replaced by the foster and or adoptive family.  In my case I never considered them to replace the blood ancestors at all.  I considered them additional ancestors that I was blessed to have.

We have no physical blood that ties us.  However to all of the world and all legal meanings they are my flesh and blood.  That is how I feel about them as well.  In all honesty at times they are more my family than my blood and biological family simply because I have minimal contact and my relationship with that family is in its infancy (until recently was non existent).  Which is why they are both ancestors of the blood and of the heart.  The time that they spent raising me and being involved in my life can not be undone.

They gave their blood, sweat, and tears to me.  They are for my my most powerful allies.  They have been there for me more than the blood ancestors.  They were the first ancestors I have contacted and they were the first ones to make themselves known to me.  This is the ancestral line that has been the strongest for me.  My blood ancestral work is focused on more ancient pagan ancestor while my adoptive ancestral work is more with Saint and angel work (Hoodoo influences as well).

It is because my adoptive Ancestors gave so much of their blood, sweat, and tears into my life and that they took me in they are also ancestors of the heart.  They are of the blood because of the family ties and concepts but of the heart because there is no physical blood.  Its a spiritual and memory based blood love.  The bond of the heart here shows how even just being in a family for a short while can create strong family bonds.

Ancestors of the Heart

Those of the heart are the family that has passed that are not connected through marriage or blood or even legal adoption.  In my case this is where my foster family lies.  They did not adopt me but are still my family.  I have lost several members of that family and they were all close to me.  They are now my ancestors and they watch over me.  Our bond is somewhat stronger than blood or law.

These ancestors are some of my more recent ancestors.  It was my Uncle Cleve’s passing which made me think about ancestors.  He was my foster uncle and is an ancestor of my heart.  His two brothers are also my ancestors here.  I have a Grandfather here as well.  To them and to me the fact that I did not live with them, and was not legally a part of the family after my adoption never mattered.  I never stopped being their family.  That is what the ancestors of the heart are all about.

The ancestors of the heart are those that have passed on we considered family even if there was no blood between you.  These can be friends you thought of as brothers and sisters, close friends and even those who you would consider “father"or "mother” figures.  If you feel that they were and are apart of your family in your heart than they are your family and are your ancestors.  Never let anyone else tell you any different.

Ancestors of the Spirit:

Finally there are ancestors of the spirit. For me I consider any Occultist, Witch, and Magician who worked hard to preserve the magical and spiritual arts are my spiritual ancestors.  Even though I dont agree with all of their teachings and philosophies people like Gerald Gardner, Aliester Crowley, Doreen Valiente, Scott Cunningham, and many others put a lot of work into making magical spirituality acceptable and part of our day to day lives again.  Those are a few of my spiritual ancestors as a witch based on the practices I have taken into my practice.

As I explore Hoodoo and other magical systems other spiritual ancestors will come into my practice.  For example Marie Laveau is a famous Hoodoo worker in New Orleans.  In some respects I could consider her a spiritual ancestor.  Other ancestors in the case of Hoodoo would in general be any one who struggled to keep African American spiritual heritage alive through Hoodoo and Rootwork.  When a teacher passes I would add them to the spiritual ancestors as well.

You can also have ancestors of the spirit when you are spiritually adopted into a tradition.  There are many religions and paths where they are only open to people of a specific culture.  Occasionally through the practice of spiritual adoption outsiders are initiated and welcome into that spiritual family.  The ancestors of your initiator in these situations become your ancestors and guides as well.  It is a spiritual family you have entered into and like all families they will help you and work with you if you honor them as taught.


Working with your ancestors

Now that we have covered the types of ancestors out there and I have mentioned the importance of working with your ancestors its time to actually start thinking about how we can work with them.  Why do we work with them, and what the best ways of working with them are.

There are two primary ways aside from meditation and spirit travel work that a person can work with their ancestors.  These two forms are the altar and prayers.  They work well together and serve as a starting point for building power with your ancestral allies.  Unless one is experienced in astral travel and spirit communication using those tools right away to work with your ancestors is not the best of ideas.  Prayers and altar work are all you really need.

The altar

Really when it comes to working with your ancestors the only real must do I have found is having an altar of some sort where you can offer prayers and other items to them as you get to know them.  These altars can evolve and change over time. The point of the altar is to serve as a focal point in your work.  The altar is a place for you to offer your prayers and your gifts to them.

Your altar doesn’t need to be fancy.  Many people start off not knowing any of their ancestors. In which case a candle, a cup for water, and a plate for offerings is all you would need to contact them.  If you know your passed on loved ones and you have photos of them you can and should add those photos to the altar.

The altar also serves as a place of remembrance of the dead.  So its a place to put items that make you think of your ancestors as well as their photos.  You want it to look nice and appealing.  This is going to be their home for you in your house and their place in your life.  So its also important to keep the altar neat looking.

There are no limits on your ancestral altar.  Let their spirits come through.  There are reasons for the symbols I have placed on my altars.  They grew as my focus and my relationships grew.  One thing has always been common though-the focus has been on remembering them and keeping their memories alive in my life.


Ancestral Prayers

The best way to work with your ancestors even before starting an altar is simply to pray to them.  Prayers to your ancestors aren’t really any different than prayers for gods and spirit guides.  You are simply having a conversation with your ancestors.  Prayers are how we can communicate with them directly and its our best way to communicate with them.  They can communicate with us in different ways (dreams, scents, meditations, sudden insights etc) but we can really only speak to them through prayers.

The easiest prayer is simply:
“Blessed Ancestors I welcome you into my life.  May you bless and guide me and may you teach me what you yourself can”

That’s all your prayers to your ancestors need to be.  You dont need to praise them.  You don’t need to have a fancy invocation.  You simply can address them as your ancestors and they will listen to you.  You dont even really need to ask for a blessing.  You could simply say something along the lines of:
“Good Morning Ancestors.  I welcome you this day”.

All you are doing with your prayers is acknowledging that they exist and that they are apart of your world.  By giving them a simple welcome everyday you will start to feel their presence build up.  You will begin to know them and feel them like you do can with other spirits and beings that you work with.  The more attention you give them the more you will notice them.

Prayers can be more complex and verbose.  My personal prayers evolved from a simple Hello and welcome to a full blessing and daily petition for them to be here.  There is a bit of praise and there is a bit of thanks.  These prayers are offered twice daily.  I feel that they flowed from me into the written form when I was channeling spirits and writing prayers for them.  My ancestors let me know what they wanted.

Offerings and Gifts

The final way that we can work with our ancestors is in offerings and gifts.  These gifts are ways that we say thank you and show our appreciation to them.  There are many ways types of gifts that can be given to our ancestors.   You can give your ancestor basically anything you would give yourself or a person.  They are still family and they are still people.

For myself I consider flowers on graves a gift to them.  I also place flowers on the altars every so often as remembrances of them.  I try and give them their favorite flowers.  I also try and give them their favorite things.  For my grandmother I will think of her when I go bowling and send her some of that energy as play and a memory of our times together.

On holidays I will set aside a portion of the food on my plate for my ancestors.  I will let it sit till the end and eat that last.  They eat the essence of that portion while I eat my meal.  When I have finished the portion for me they will have had their fill and I can take nourishment from the food.  Other cultures burn food offerings to ancestors and spirits.  Some burry the food in the yard.   Other throw it into the woods for animals to eat.

There are some taboos in various cultures about what can and can’t be given to ancestors and the dead.  If you belong to a specific culture, religion, and or tradition I suggest that you look into ways that they honor the dead.  By honoring the traditions of your culture, your religion and your tradition you are honoring your ancestors in that way as well.   These traditions after all were ancestral in many cases.

Conclusion:

This post has covered my own discovery into the importance of ancestral veneration.  It has covered the types of ancestors and a few of the ways that we can work with our ancestors.  Your ancestors are part of who you are.  They are powerful allies that can teach you things you wouldn’t imagine and who can be there for you in ways none else can.   Your ancestors are still here in this life and in this world just in a different form.

There are many ways to work with them.  Once you start working with them you will find that there are many more ways and reasons to work with them.  I’ve been working with my ancestors actively for several years and my relationships with them continue to grow and develop.  I am constantly learning new reasons to honor them and new ways of working with them.  The more I learn the more I realize there is to learn.

These allies seem to be the ones that develop the most as I develop spiritually.  The more I understand spiritual and magical practices the stronger they seem to become and the more things we seem to be able to so together.  Its my hope that any one who has read this will start to develop their own relationships with their ancestors and start to find the power and comfort in ancestral grace and guidance.

Tools of the Craft: The Book of Shadows

Oh, the beautiful working altar! It is a place of magic, with lots of shiny and smelly things on it which make me feel at home. But to the new witch, it can sometimes seem daunting, and even downright scary to look at - almost as if it came right out of some dark fantasy story.

But there’s nothing to be afraid of. Each object on the altar is merely a tool to help visually direct energy. In witchcraft, every tool has its significance and its own symbolism, and it often helps to understand what makes these tools so important. In this series of articles, I will endeavor to lift the shroud of mystery from these tools and assist in helping you understand what each tool is used for, where it comes from, and why we use it.

Originally posted by uurbain

The Book of Shadows

We’ve all seen various shows that portray witches with various spell books, from the massive tome in Sabrina, The Teenage Witch to the living spell book in Hocus Pocus. It sometimes seems as if the book is as inseparable from witchcraft as the broom, pointed hat, and black cat! However, unlike how they’re portrayed in media, spell books, or Books of Shadows, are unique to each individual, and may have spells, correspondences, references, or may simply be a journal.

Ultimately, the Book of Shadows (hereafter, “BoS”) is a repository of knowledge pertinent to your practice. It’s your reference guide and a measure of your growth as you progress and learn more.

As many experienced witches who teach can attest to, one of the most frequent questions we get is “How to I make a BoS?” or “What do I need to do to get a spell book?” And this question is tricky not because of complexity, but because of its simplicity. So let’s take a look at the different types of BoS, and what could go into them!

Hard Copies, Media Files, and Oral Tradition

Every witch has his or her own aesthetic, preferred method of going about things, and pocketbook. As such, the types of BoS out there vary depending upon the witch! The most stereotypical BoS is the hard copy book. Durable, long lasting, and with a rather gorgeous look, it’s no surprise that from the get go, many of us will reach out to take hold of one of those faux-leather-bound blank journals lining the back wall of Barnes & Noble

However, when first starting out, jumping straight to these often expensive books is not necessarily practical. The reason for this is that like our practice, our book will likely change and evolve over time to reflect our growth. As such, it isn’t uncommon early on to tear pages out, reorganize, and add pages to incorporate what suits you.

That said, it’s often recommended for the new witch to start simple. And for that there are a couple of options! First is for those who prefer hard copies. In the .gif above, the keen eye might notice that the BoS shown is a simple graph paper notebook. This is not uncommon, and while some may initially fear having a BoS that looks “tacky,” remember that the book will change over time, and as you practice more and find aspects that you know will not be going away anytime soon, you can incorporate them into another more aesthetically pleasing BoS (there’s no rule that says you can’t have more than one! I have several, and for different aspects of my practice). 

Far less expensive is the digital BoS. Earlier on, I addressed Technopaganism and how it relates to paganism and witchcraft. In it, I acknowledged that one rather practical aspect to technopaganism is that witches who adopt this philosophy will often set aside files on their devices specifically for witchcraft. For instance, on my computer, I have a folder dedicated to witchcraft, with subfolders that have word files for notes, rites and spells, my blog articles (yes, my articles go in my BoS!) pictures, and correspondences. Though many witches prefer to cast spells and blessings on their BoS and may scoff at the thought of having a digital BoS, remember that in technopaganism, it is not uncommon to bless and cast spells on the device or drive that has the files in question, just as one would bless and cast a spell on a physical book.

Some witches who like the digital aspect even create public BoS’s here on Tumblr! Blogs are often a great repository for spells and notes regarding witchcraft, so it’s good to keep your eyes peeled for a good BoS page!

Lastly, there is another type of BoS that often goes unrecognized and treated less carefully because it’s not a physical object, and that’s oral tradition. Many of our ancient ancestors who did not have a written language passed their traditions, spells, and rites down to one another through strictly oral means. And some who had a written system maintained a mostly oral tradition as well (take, for instance, the Celts and Norse - both had written systems but maintained their traditions orally). The message here is that if you don’t feel that having a BoS is necessary or desired, you are not a lesser witch for it. Even today, some families maintain an oral system, passing their faith and traditions down from one generation to the next with the spoken word. 

Compilations, Dreams, and Magic

So we’ve seen the different formats used for a BoS. But… what goes into it? Well, the simple answer is anything you want! And much to the frustration of many new witches, that’s exactly the answer they get. So let’s take a look at what commonly goes into a BoS, and how it can be varied.

Spells: This one’s the most common subject. After all, many witches prefer a repository of their successful spells for future reference. So many include a section in their books dedicated specifically to spells. (If the book were dedicated solely to spells and rites, it is often referred to as a grimoire instead of a BoS, though this is mostly a matter of preference).

Rites: This varies from tradition to tradition, as some partake in full rites whereas others don’t. But a section devoted to rites will likely include rituals for the Wheel of the Year, other holidays and sabbats, esbat (lunar) rites, and even initiation and dedication rites for covens.

Correspondences: If you rely heavily on correspondences, be they for astrology, color, runes, plants, or otherwise, it is often recommended to have a reference or resource where you can look up the proper correspondences for your tradition. As such, many witches who work with such correspondences will have a section dedicated appropriately.

Recipes: Giggle as you may, but kitchen witches often joke about their BoS being a cookbook. And some legitimately have a cookbook as a BoS. Regardless, those who work magic into their cooking may prefer to have some good go-to recipes on hand! Need an example? One of my books is dedicated solely to Foodie Friday recipes, and I do consider it to be a BoS!

Journals: Whether it be a dream journal, or a diary, there are many witches out there who incorporate their journals into their BoS. This has a couple of benefits: the first is that it is an excellent way of tracking growth; the second is that it provides a cross reference, so if you forget something in another section of your BoS, you could have it in your journal. It is also an excellent way of providing a personal narrative regarding your development and relationship to the gods, if that is part of your path.

Notes: Let’s face it, as a new witch (or even an experienced witch), you probably do a lot of note-taking, jotting down new information or spells or philosophies for your craft. The BoS is an excellent repository for these scribbles!

There is plenty more that can be added to a BoS, but these are the most common subjects. Is there a proper order to have in a BoS? Only if you feel you need one. However, for me, I have found that if I were to establish a table of contents in my BoS, it would be rendered null rather quickly as I add and remove subjects. Instead, sticky notes, tabs, bookmarks, or ribbons can be used to separate sections so that you can easily page through your book!

Custom Made!

Many new witches might see a lot of those rather gorgeous home-made books out there. Though your book need not be pretty to be functional, it is encouraged to make your book your own. If you’re artistically inclined, bend that toward your book and create a BoS that doubles as a masterpiece! Some will create wood bindings, while others may simply draw and decorate the edges of their pages. It can be as complicated as that, or as simple as adding a ribbon with a crystal on it. The book is yours, so do what you’d like with it!

So Josh, what kinds of BoS do you have?

Well, I have several. The first is my aforementioned digital BoS. Though I don’t use it for spellcasting, it is a backup repository of my notes and articles, as well as a place where I can write out new spells and rites as needed before printing them for coven work (because my handwriting isn’t exactly the easiest for others to read). The second is the aforementioned Foodie Friday Notebook. The notes and recipes that I write down are later shared with all of you, and I keep it all for future reference and for my own work! Third is my coven BoS. This is a hard cover blank journal in which I write down all of the rites and spells that we do together, as well as where I write down any notes that may be pertinent to our practice. Fourth is my personal BoS, which is a faux-leather-bound journal in which I write my finalized aspects to my practice.

It’s likely that I could end up with new books in the future, and my BoS’s will continue to change over time!

How can I make my own BoS?

Use everything we’ve covered above as a guideline in crafting your personal BoS. Remember that if affordability is an issue, you can always start small and later on build up to something you’d prefer. Whether it be a digital file, a spiral bound notebook, or a blank journal, remember that your BoS is your reflection and repository! Treat it with care and as much respect as you would any other tool for the craft!

Originally posted by katefuckingwinslet

And as always, Blessed Be! )O(

4

The Psalter of Cain consists of a series of devotional magical works to Cain, holy ancestor of sorcerers. Its magical foci are dedicated specifically to the Ancestral Manes of the Sabbatic Current, the shade-mothers and fathers of the Companie of the Wise.’

The book features contributions from authors Andrew D. Chumbley, Daniel A. Schulke, Robert Fitzgerald, et al.

‘The Psalter of Cain is the first public work of joint authorship of the magical order Cultus Sabbati, its pages drawn from the collective work of its present initiatic body. As a work of devotional rite, charm, and incantation, the book manifests the transcendent Sabbatic vision of Cainite Gnosis: the radiance which illumines the Nocturnal Eden, the light of vision-anointed eyes.’ –Xoanon

• personal collection / photos; please leave credits

A ritual for the banishment of enemies and the quick justice in regards to those who put you or ones you love in harm’s way.

Find a Black or White Candle, a bowl filled with water, black paint, and tormentilla or basil.


Light a candle devoted to the ritual of the bat.

Hold your hands in the symbol of the bat (link thumbs together, spread out hands, turn fingertips down to the floor) and say:

Sapiéntiam vespertilionis voco.

Ego instinctus evocant vespertilionem.

Intuitus sum Hecates evocant.

Et vespertilionem volant super capite meo.

Et super caput volitant vespertilionem caris meis.

Signa potestatis ut cera saecula teneantur.

-          Put a spot of molten wax over your third eye to be only removed after circle closing.

-           Fill a bowl with water to the point where its not to far from being shallow. Place the lit candle in the center of the bowl. Place the three lit black candles around the bowl in the shape of an inverted triangle. Pour black die/paint around the white candle into the water visualizing all your negativity flowing from out of you as well as from out of your environment, pull in all the negative energy you can transfer and dispel it into this bowl of water. Take the picture of the person of interest and hold it in your hand of power as you recite the incantation…
“Hear my power call out to thee,
O'Mighty Goddess Queen Hecate,
Move against him/her as she/he to me,
Thus she/he blaspheme ever my name stub her/his tongue upon thou teeth,
Thus she/he move thou hand or foot against me immobilize before thou reach,
Thus she/he bid me found bewilder her/him unto foreign land,
Thus she/he raise enemies against me mutiny upon her/him alone shall thou stand,
Grant me courage to fear not my adversary nor weapon he/she bear,
For thine is my Goddess Queen Hecate so doeth to take care.”

Sprinkle tormentilla onto your enemy’s picture and roll it up and recite: “By might and By magick, By Light and By Darkness, So mote it be.” Then burn the tip of the picture with the white lit candle. Then burn the middle of the picture with the black candle closest to you. After much burning extinguish the picture in the dark water.

Tormentilla = Cinquefoil or Cloverflowers

When cutting the service of this spell, make the symbol of the bat over the flame as you extinguish the bat candle and the candles of Hecate. 

Temptation of Lilith

Someone was looking for Lilith majix so I dug up a ritual I wrote last year. I was kind of expecting to cringe at it but surprisingly it still felt utterly electrifying to read the incantation.

So I figured let’s share it again!

Ladies and gentlemen, the Temptation of Lilith:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwNr2nYVJnpQSXJyb045SWtzWXc/view?usp=drivesdk