Of all the tools to be found in an occultist toolbox none are quite so important, or valuable, as The Book of Shadows.
For Pagan blogger Jason Mankey his own Book of Shadows was his first tool of Witchcraft: a small, plain Nepalese 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. This one proved to be a more purpose-built affair with uniform pages and ruled lines. He still has both in his possession - along with others that he has used over the years. They now amount to fifteen by the last count.
What is a Book Shadows?
Anyone who practices occultism, rather than simply studies it as a purely academic subject, needs to keep a record of everything magickal that he or she does. Traditionally The Book of Shadows is simply a written account or documentation of events or procedures carried out within a ritual setting along with the results of that magickal working.
The Book cannot only form a part of the records of a coven or sacred group ritual but can also be used on a regular basis as a personal dream journal for example.
The Book of Shadows itself can be a simple exercise book, a file on a USB stick or a document in the Cloud, or it can be as ornate and specialised in its scope as those types preferred by Jason Mankey.
Getting the Best from Your Book of Shadows
How can a Book of Shadows assist a Witch in their work? For those who need some guidance Jason Mankey has written The Witches's Book of Shadows specifically in order to teach readers the best way of working with your own Book.
In it he explains how being a record of magickal operations the Book of Shadows consequently can become a magical artefact in its own right. Whilst the Book can be very simple and functional Mankey offers many additional features that can be integrated into a Book; including emblazoning it with occult symbology, the use of specific alphabets, fonts, and inks.
Further methods for strengthening its magickal essence or power can include consecrating or blessing it. Other techniques include invoking specific gods and goddesses that are associated with books, literacy and spiritual wisdom to empower its magickal essence.
Jason Mankey explains how he takes this approach a step further by invoking one or more deities to help him in writing through to invoking a god or goddess to magically magnetising his writing tools and pens.
Later on in his book Mankey dedicates a chapter to the use of the Book of Shadows in ritual. Here he considers The Book of Shadows to be as important a magickal tool as any other within the temple. Indeed when performing ritual work he has found his own Book to be invaluable as a way of recording ritual procedure before hand as well as using it as a guide during the actual working. It can also be valuable as a way of helping to prompt those who might forget their lines during the course of a magickal operation.
Finally the author brings the reader right up to date with some very contemporary ideas regarding the Book of Shadows which proves that its role and function in Magick is as important today as it has ever been.
Our Review of The Witches's Book of Shadows by Jason Manley
The Witch's Book of Shadows by Jason Manley is a comprehensive guide to every conceivable facet to Book of Shadows creation, use, styling, layout and content.
Within its pages Mankey offers a wealth of information for those who simply wish to record their magickal work through to those who like to illustrate their handiwork with additional material all of which are geared towards creating a semi-work of art.
The book itself is, of course, part of Llewellyn's excellent 'Witches Tools' series — all of which are notably invaluable and highly-respected guides to the world of Witchcraft.
However, Jason Manley's contribution to the series is not only the largest but, to my mind, is the best and most comprehensive of them so far for — which is highly appropriate for I consider The Book of Shadows to be the single most important tool in any occultist's hands.
It is also an asset that grows significantly as the years go by and you are able to look back over to the spiritual journey that you have taken along the way
Written in a very personalised way with some great anecdotal stories, some additional short additions by other collaborators as well as some delightful illustrations, this is book that I am sure, will fascinate you as much as it did myself; and I have kept a book of Shadows for well over thirty years.
In The Witches's Book of Shadows Jason Manley has delightfully crafted a guide to one of the most under-stated aspects of Witchcraft and occult practice. His work is thoroughly recommended and essential reading for any magickian, shaman, occultist or serious consciousness explorer.