What’s a Grimoire?

The Book of Shadows (BOS, for short) are the notes Pagans/ Witches/ Wiccans have made along their journey of life and learning.

A Grimoire is a book of magic, spells and techniques.

People don’t always know there is a difference. It’s a pretty slight difference. The Book of Shadows would be less scientific and contain personal thoughts. However, both would have the facts and information about techniques for magic and spells.

Who is the Goddess?

I fixed the formatting but the capitalization is not mine. Some things are well meant but not well written in the practical sense. I found this on Facebook and wanted to keep it around for myself. I think the Crone should be about more than death and endings though, too much focus on that and not enough on wisdom and experience.

And the Child asked the Maiden: Who is the #goddess?

The Maiden turned and replied: the Goddess is Pure. She is the first burst of Life. She is untouched by Man. She is One who finds Joy in everything. She is a Sister. She is a Child. She is One who is Servant to None for She has no Consort and no Child. She is the Huntress. She is Innocence. She is Growth.

But the Child was unsatisfied. And the Child asked the Mother: Who is the Goddess?

The Mother turned and replied: The Goddess is She who nurtures us. She keeps us safe. She guides us. She is the One to whom we can turn. She is the mother with the child at the breast. She is the pregnant woman. She is the One who has the earth as her body, the full moon as her symbol. She is the One on whom we depend for life. She sustains us. She is Life.

Still the child was unsatisfied. And the Child asked the Crone: Who is the Goddess?

The Crone turned and replied: She is Death and Rebirth. She is the Wisdom Collected over many Lives. She is All that has Happened. She is All that will Happen. She is One who has come to the end of the Cycle. She is Feared by the Young. She is the welcome Aid to those in Pain, to those who suffer. She is the One to whom All turn when They no longer wish for the Life She has given Them. She is Destruction in preparation for the New.

Still the Child was unsatisfied. The Child looked around but there was no one else to ask. Finally the Child shouted: GODDESS! GODDESS, WHO ARE YOU?

The Goddess replied: I am the maiden. I am the mother. I am the Crone. I am Diana. I am Isis. I am Kali. I am Birth. I am Life. I am Death. I am Creation. I Sustain. I am the Destroyer. I am one Goddess. I am Thousands of Separate Goddesses. I am in Everything. I am Everywhere. I am Eternal. I am in Everyone. I am whoever You want me to be. I am in You.

And the Child was satisfied.

Where the Wild Things Are: Keeping Faith

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, February, 2, 2004.

I’m not a Buffy or Angel fanatic but I do follow the series, more or less. I like Faith, that character. I’ve thought about her even after the credits are rolling and the next show is starting. Of all the characters Faith has the least faith. She is distrustful and destructive. At least for awhile.

I’ve been thinking about faith, what that is and where it comes from and where it goes to. Kind of interesting. Having faith basically means believing in something without real proof that your belief is justified.

I once read about a woman who was charged with murder. She went through the trial and in the end the verdict was handed out as ‘Not proven’. That was something they used to do, ages ago. Not any more. But, it was interesting. For her and her life she always had that black cloud of suspicion hanging over her, not proven. Neither guilty or innocent, just some limbo.

Faith is like that too. If you take an idea to heart it’s hanging in limbo but if you have full faith in it it’s proven. If you are in doubt it’s not proven and you don’t have real faith, not blind, trusting faith anyway. There are levels of faith. I think that’s good. You shouldn’t close your mind to new theories, options and chances. Keep looking for more questions and their answers. Faith isn’t a permanent thing, written in blood or chiseled in stone. It’s subject to change.

The woman in the book had to live with people who were suspicious of her. She had trouble getting a job being allowed to go to church and being accepted by the community at all. It wasn’t fair, she wasn’t guilty after all. But, they didn’t have faith in her. They needed that final solid verdict to put her on one side or the other. you don’t get that with things you have faith in though. Pagans and Christians and all the other Faiths don’t get to see their gods or the heaven or hell they put faith in. We don’t get a preview or screenshot. It’s taken on faith.

But, it comes from within you more than something you read or are told. It has to seem realistic and practical, possible. We don’t put faith in something completely out there. Faith is too precious to just give away so easily.

Now that I’ve rambled on and on… the woman in the book did finally get her verdict of innocent. But, it came late in her life. Someone else confessed when they were dying and wanted to get all the skeletons out of their closet.

Where the Wild Things Are: The Whole Circle

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, March, 1, 2004.

The magic circle, sounds so mystical… But it’s like many things in Witchcraft, it’s adaptable to your own style, your whims and personal needs of the moment.

Witch/ Wiccan rituals take place in a circle. Not always, it’s not written in stone with blood or anything really dramatic. But, it does make things tidy in it’s own way. You draw in power and you keep it to yourself, out of the way of others. Then, when you’re done you release it. It goes back to nature and the powerful parts of yourself.

We draw the circle and then we close it. Some people cast the circle and banish it at the end of the ritual. I tend to think of it as drawing and closing the circle. When you draw your circle take a moment to bless each of the elements at each of the 4 directions. Yes, you might need a map to know where north, south, west and east are in relation to your location. If you choose, bless the goddess and god too. Then bless the Earth and life, those are most important to me. When you close your circle just do the steps in reverse order. Gather your pebbles, erase your chalk, whatever you used as you go around in the 4 directions again. Sounds too simple? Why shouldn’t it be simple. You’re welcome to make a bigger production out of it. I like it simple.

You can use chalk, hemp rope, embroidery thread, pebbles, sand, dust bunnies, anything really. Consider a circle of jack o lanterns for Samhain, wouldn’t that be fun! It depends on how fancy you want to be or how close to natural elements. My personal choice are pebbles. I love them. I collected them from a beach here in Ontario. Took my time to find stones I especially liked for their shape, colour or some markings on them.

The circle represents wholeness, the cycles of life and the seasons, the wheel of life to make it simple. In theory it is without beginning or ending and perfect in it’s completeness.

To draw the circle is to make a place set apart and sacred. Where ever you are- living room, backyard, beach, clearing in the woods – the circle becomes a place where we focus on magick in ourselves and the Earth around us. The circle is a pure place where we can think, make notes in our Book of Shadows, create and practice rituals, anything. It doesn’t have to be dramatic and you don’t have to feel you must do something special. It’s your circle, your dime.

This summer when I have a road trip out to the beach I want to cast a circle on the beach. Using a piece of driftwood to draw my circle and some stones to point to the directions. I don’t even know what ritual I might do. I just want to sit in a circle of my own creation and enjoy the world, life and being alive.

“In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.” -Charles Lindbergh

I take thee, herb, to cure my ills
or perhaps while dancing pon the hill.
I’ll dip you in the cauldron fine
Then asperge a circle in the pines.
I’ll make you into teas and brews
when picked from ‘neath the morning dews,
or hide you in a pillow seam
to guard me close, come night and dreams.

– Marian Loresinger

Where the Wild Things Are: Writing for a Wiccan Topic

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, April, 19, 2004.

I have this twisted compulsion to take on more stuff than I can actually do. It’s a form of madness.

Anyway, now I am starting a new Wicca/ Witch site for a network called AIA (All Info About). Why? Because it’s there. Also, because I thought of an idea and then I had to put life into it. In other words, do it.

So, this is going to be a Witchy site for people who are Witches. Not looking for converts, going out of my way to explain or defend Witches or Wiccans. I wanted to call it “The Living Witch” but that didn’t work out with the format they use. So, I will use that somewhere else. I plan to set up a blog as part of the site. Something I can add bits of stuff to as I go along. My idea of a Book of Shadows.

The rest of the site is going to include sections like: a regional directory of Witch groups, traditions, art, career, romance and relationships, home and garden, environment, health and beauty, spiritual, holidays, and hobbies. I’m sure this will change as I actually get started and change my mind about what will work. But you get the idea, I hope.

So many sites about Wicca leave out the reality, the living of it all. How many times do you really need or want to see the same information about sabbats and rituals? Let’s see how it works together in real life.

If anyone has ideas or articles to contribute let me know. It would be nice to hear from you anyway. Later, when the site is up I will send the URL out with this newsletter. Likely this will integrate into the site too.

Take care,

Laura

Where the Wild Things Are: Healing is Complicated

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, January, 9, 2004.

I have mixed feelings about healing. It seems to me that people take it too lightly. As if you can heal anything with the right words, the right herb the right touch, etc. I don’t believe that’s true.

Healing has to come from within. You can add things and hear things and understand things but that alone won’t heal you. There aren’t instant cures for healing the mind or the body. At least that’s how it seems to me.

When people are in pain they want it to stop. That’s why any kind of instant cure is hoped for and paid for. But, that doesn’t mean it will work or that the same problem isn’t still there, just buried or masked.

Yes, you can take Tylenol to get rid of a headache. But the headache goes away when your blood thins due to the Tylenol, but not only that. The body is a mystery, still. We know what’s connected to what and how things work in a basic way. There is so much we don’t know. So much to do with the power of our own minds and thoughts. Positive thinking.

I hear people talking negatively and I cringe on the inside. It’s a mistake to be negative and then to express that is adding to the problem. Expressing it gives it a chance to exist, to have it’s own energy. To become part of the world in a more physical form.

Not that I haven’t expressed my share of negativity. Sometimes I express it to purge it from me. I get rid of it by giving it a name. When I name it I then know where to find it inside of myself and that’s a start to ridding myself of it or the original problem.

Healing is complicated. Just as people and life are complicated. But, people make life more complicated sometimes more complicated than it would ever be on it’s own. Too many rules that must be obeyed. Rules are too unbending. In order to heal you have to bend and be free to let go of some things and accept others.

Sometimes I get writing here and I think I’m making no sense at all and contradicting everything I write as I go. But, it’s all theory, opinion and ideas. Take them as they are and make what you will of them.

Where the Wild Things Are: Death and Dying

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, May, 16, 2004.

My Dad is quite likely going to die soon, any day now. Don’t worry about sending sympathy, condolences or anything of that sort. You don’t know him. For me it’s a lot more personal.

People think the dying become almost holy. As if, while dying, they change and become a better person all of a sudden. You can’t talk badly about them, you must visit them and you should really, really hold their hand.

Well, my Dad was not a nice, happy, friendly Dad. His dying hasn’t changed that. I don’t want to hold his hand. I don’t want to go in and see him now that he is becoming a pile of meat rather than a human being. Sure, I can stick my hand inside a turkey each Thanksgiving and pull out the little bag of goodies. That doesn’t mean I want to do the same sort of ghoulish thing with my Dad. So, I am visiting him (second time will be today after work) but I am not going to touch him.

What do you believe about death? That gets tested each time someone close to us (physically or emotionally) dies. I still believe in reincarnation. I still believe the body becomes about as useful as roadkill once the person inside is gone. I still think the best body disposal method is compost in the family garden rather than taking up space in a graveyard plot. I’d much rather have my remains sucked up by worms and trees than rotting away in an expensive box.

Am I grossing you out? Am I being too blunt? Do you not want to think about death in such a practical way? Too bad. Death is part of life. There is no getting away from it. Death is always there, waiting at the end. That, I very strongly believe.

I’m not afraid of death. I’m just in no hurry to get there. I’d miss too many things. Every ordinary day, new inventions and ideas, seeing the tulips each Spring and so on.

Anyway, my Dad wants to be cremated. It looks like he will soon have his wish. I don’t think I will miss him. But I’m doing my best to be a good daughter now, in these last days. Not for him, not for myself especially, but for my brother and sisters who seem to expect something grand and dramatic and perfect. As if now that he is about to kick off forever we should honour him for the things he did right.

Where the Wild Things Are: Teaching Pagan Ideas to Kids

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, February, 20, 2003.

What do you do with Pagan kids?

I think kids are too young to get started on the more serious side of being Pagan. Partly because they are too uninformed to make the decision to be Pagan versus something else. Also, calling themselves Pagan could become a problem with other members of the family or kids/ teachers at school. Most people don’t understand Paganism and thus they don’t trust it. Kids are a bit too defenseless in that situation.

That doesn’t mean kids can’t be Pagan too. Calling yourself Pagan is not being Pagan. What is being Pagan about, at it’s heart? To me it’s nature, the Earth, life, history, science, traditions and environmentalism. Is there any reason kids can’t be involved in those things, of course not. Kids just love to talk about the supernatural too, few kids don’t enough the spooky element of Halloween. You can add the facts about ghosts, Witches and such to their ghost stories.

Teach kids to appreciate nature, take them on walks outdoors, show them how to recycle and make it a priority to learn about history and science. Involve them in your rituals. Take them on a nature walk to gather leaves, stones, etc. Let them know what your altar is for, don’t make it a big mystery, but don’t make it sound too “weird” either. Get them started writing a journal, they don’t have to know it’s a Book of Shadows. Spend time with them, that’s the most important thing for any kids, Pagan or otherwise. Remember, they learn from you. What you do is what they see and what they believe.

You can introduce kids to the Wiccan Rede, the basic ideas behind Paganism and what you believe about Gods, Goddesses, life and death. But, make sure they understand not everyone shares your same beliefs. For one thing you want them to make their own decision about being Pagan. For another you don’t want them to be confused when they discover people who disagree with Pagan ideas.

Kids haven’t lived enough to have a deeper understanding and they don’t know how to protect themselves from those who think Pagans are evil, devil worshipping types. That’s the main reason I think I would just let kids see the heart of Paganism and introduce them to the body later. Likely, they will have had a life of living like a Pagan and it will be a very smooth transition to become Pagan officially.

Where the Wild Things Are: Talking About Being Pagan

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, January, 16, 2003.

Staying safe, in your own safe little world. Is that where you are? Many of us choose our adventures, how far we will go depends on where we have our safety nets.

For instance, have you told anyone you’re Pagan? Have you told your family, friends, co-workers, boss? I’m not suggesting you rush out and do it. I’m certainly not daring you to tell them either. It’s a personal thing. Being Pagan is a personal thing in itself. A personal choice and something just for you.

It should not, however, be some dark secret. Something deep, dangerous and naughty. That’s not what Paganism should be. It’s not something you should have to hide from your family. Being Pagan is about caring for life, the Earth and old traditions. How can they really object to that? Still, you can find the safety zone. You can let them know you’re into nature, environmental issues and historical traditions. You can be Pagan without saying the word Pagan to them.

People don’t always get that. They think they have to hide being Pagan because others won’t like it or will be shocked by it. They turn it into a deep, dark secret. By doing that they make it become something dark, secret. No wonder so many people still think of Pagans as devil worshippers.

You have the power to find where your safe world is, set the boundaries and set the record straight if you choose to. Let people know you’re Pagan, if you can or if you choose to. But, don’t make it some dark mystery. Don’t let them find an altar, a book or a pentacle in your room without explanation. If you make being Pagan something to be ashamed of or fear you hurt all of us.

Instead be proud of who you are and be as honest about it as you can. For me, the only person I couldn’t talk to about being Pagan was my Grandmother. It scared her. She couldn’t think of it as anything but dangerous for me. She didn’t understand that it’s not something dark, but something light. She didn’t know what I made of being Pagan, for me. She only knew the stereotypes she had heard all her life.

Book of Shadows

Originally written for The Crying Clown Zine (c. 1998)

The Book of Shadows could be called The Book of Life. Just the opposite of the Egyptian Book of the Dead (A series of spells to help the dead travel to and exist in the afterlife.) The Book of Shadows (BOS, for short) contains notes Wiccans have made along their journey of life and learning. Grimoire (A book of magickal spells and techniques) is more Medieval than Book of Shadows but they serve the same basic purpose.

Essentially, the Book of Shadows is a workbook containing ritual patterns, rules governing magick, instructions for circle casting and banishing, religious rituals, the consecration of tools, herbal lore, herbal recipes, dreams, divination results and personal thoughts and experiences. It is the Book of Shadows, which keeps the traditions of a solitary or coven alive. Without the Book, everything would be passed on from word of mouth with the chance of being forgotten, lost or misinterpreted.

A coven will keep a Book of Shadows so members can record and memorize the coven’s rituals in their own Books of Shadows. Some contain lists of the pantheon, training exercises and initiation ceremonies. Books can be passed from one Wiccan to another, usually on initiation. Often each individual Wiccan creates their Book and keeps it to themselves.

Until recently, a Book of Shadows was always hand written. With all the advances in multi-media today a Book of Shadows can be a Disk of Shadows. Some Books (or parts of them) are published on the Internet. Typed and photocopied Books are also common. You may choose to have more than one copy or form of your Book. One can be hand written, the other can be preserved on a disk or photocopied for safe keeping.

To make your own Book of Shadows begin with any blank book. It does not have to be something antique or beautiful, a notebook from the dollar store will do. The Book of Shadows gains its value from the amount of energy and effort used to create it and the positive energy surrounding it each time the book is used for magick and rituals. A binder with loose sheets will let you move your pages around and add new ones in the middle if you need to.

Simply write in this book any rituals and magickal information you have worked on, learned about or just read somewhere and want to remember. Keep it organized into sections for rituals, divination, herbs, and etc. Add your own personal touch with some poetry, a few pressed leaves from your first ritual, a drawing which inspired you, or anything else bookable (able to fit into a book, one way or another). Also, because this is your Book you can write any thoughts you are having at the time. You don’t have to write to impress anyone. Keep track of your feelings (both negative and positive), questions you want to find answers to, and any other personal information you would write into a journal or diary.

Keep your Book of Shadows in good repair. Some rituals may call for placing herbs in or on your Book of Shadows. Prepare for this by giving your book a fabric cover or tissue paper between its pages. Keep this in mind when or if you want to decorate your Book of Shadows. Watch for decorations that might damage your pages or make your ink run. Put some thought into your decorations of choice. Though macaroni art may have seemed “funky” at the time, it might not feel the same when the lumpy noodles won’t let you keep your book open on your altar. Remember, your Book of Shadows serves a purpose. Make sure its usable when you are trying to read it half way into a ritual and you just can’t remember the line you wanted to say as you sprinkle eye of newt into your cauldron.