Another in Llewellyn's Witch's Tools series, The Witch's Book of Shadows is an engaging and useful guide to creating and maintaining your book of shadows.

As a teacher I frequently (always?) have students fretting about getting their BoS 'just right', sometimes to the detriment of the actual purpose of ones Book: to track ones journey into the Craft of being a witch. Explanations only go so far, this seems to be a lesson that is literally learned over time. Mankey tackles this issue with honesty, sharing his own journey into making his book . . . actually books, plural.  His very first Book was a small, plain journal that he picked up in a local hippy-style store. His second Book was a blue leather-bound journal that he purchased at a Barnes and Noble store. He still has both in his possession, and his collection is now up to fifteen.

Mankey is very clear that while your Book can be as plain or elaborate as you desire, it might be best considered as a magical artifact in its own right. He offers many additional features that can be integrated into a Book such as using occult symbols, specific alphabets, fonts, and inks. I was particularly fascinated by his practice of invoking one or more deities to help him in writing as well as magically magnetizing his writing tools and pens.

The Witch's Book of Shadows offers witches a great deal of guidance on various types of books: from creating a personal spell book and magickal reference to making it a spiritual journal to the coven or tradition specific Book. Mankey explores the pros and cons of different types of Books including handwritten, cut and paste collage style, using three ring binders and more modern digital methods such as flash drives, cloud services and using print on demand services.

Throughout the book are short pieces written by guest contributors called “Every Trick in the Book”. I especially enjoyed Laura Tempest Zakroff's contribution, “No Fear Grimoire Crafting”. In it, Ms. Zakroff talks about how she thinks of the Book of Shadows like she does the cookbook that is passed down through her family. She views her family cookbook as sacred because of the history within the hand written notes and the various food stains of trial and error attempts. So too one's Book of Shadows can be seen as a messy recipe book of experimentation and knowledge revealed.

I enjoyed The Witch's Book of Shadows very much and recommend it.

~review by Lisa Mc Sherry

Author: Jason Mankey
Llewellyn Worldwide, 2017
pp. 312, $15.99

 

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