Book of Shadows or Elaborate Scrapbook – What the F has happened to the Oath

tumblr_m60bfuTrtG1r73di8o1_500To me, a Witch’s Grimoire (also known as Book Of Magik, Book Of Shadows or Book of Light Shadows amongst many other names) is a timeless mystery, propagated by the ages, filled with deep occult secrets, personal spiritual revelation, technical ritual practices, honest confessions and the charting and building of personal spiritual knowledge. It is a mirror into the soul of the Witch and as such, profoundly hallowed grounds.

Needless to say, It will be a cold day in a Christian hell before I ever dare show my Book to another individual that was not a committed, practicing direct blood relative…. and even then…..

Yet, it seems that everywhere I look; someone somewhere is publicly promoting their book of shadows. Whether it be on You Tube, on Facebook, in person or elsewhere, it seems that no matter where I look there they are, out in the open, looking casually back at me, exposed and disempowered. Announcing to the world that that which was once immeasurably sacred is now the spiritual equivalent of an everyday scrapbook, complete with page flicking walk-through and detailed explanation.

Now you would think that the word “Shadow” would be enough to emphasise the importance of keeping secret whatever resides inside the pages of such a book …. But apparently not.

I think the most saddening thing at least for me is that, if we as pagans can’t take our most ancient traditions seriously then how can we expect others to? Furthermore I really don’t think you need to belong to any particular tradition to understand the importance of keeping what is essentially a personal diary/journal secret. Teenage girls all over the world go to great lengths to hide their personal diaries from prying eyes and yet here are some of today’s witches, openly showing off a book that for many years witches the world over were and are still oath bound not to display.

What has happened to the witches oath, what has happened to keeping things secret so that they are free from ego and as such able to retain that sense of sacred?

Yes, a witches book is a beautiful, bewitching and bewildering item to possess, I think we have all, at one point or another admired the many elaborate Grimores that have featured in Movies and TV shows pertaining to witchcraft and paganism and how could you not, they are at the end of the day art in the form of a prop. There are also some really creative “how to” videos that can teach you the many techniques involved in creating such a masterpieces, there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s what comes after that is the issue. It’s the desire to show everyone what you have created that crosses that line and ultimately sacrifices the oath.

And yes, I can understand the excitement that many feel especially newcomers when they cross the threshold into paganism particularly to peruse such paths as Witchcraft and Wicca. They want to be able to share aspects of their new found spiritual path with others; it is after all such an exciting and beautiful time where everything suddenly makes more sense. But at the end of the day, the more you show off, the more power you hand over to others who will inevitably be judging, it is after all human nature to judge. And when that begins to happen you may find that your practice begins to be driven by a sense to please or impress others rather than to seek out your own spiritual truth.

I would also like to add, that I understand that many who discover or are discovering this path are doing so unguided and as such have no one to explain the concept of the oath to them. It’s a difficult subject to breach particularly to some. It takes very little these days to hurt someone’s feelings. But is does need to be said and if you as a more experienced practitioner of the craft are reading this and are comfortable in saying so, then I would encourage you to do so gently and respectfully.


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8 thoughts on “Book of Shadows or Elaborate Scrapbook – What the F has happened to the Oath

  1. Hello. You know, i thought about this pretty long before I wrote this reply. I read your post twice and really thought about how i wanted to say this. I am one of those witches that you refer to, that publicly shows my Book of Shadow. The book that I show in my videos was made expressly for being seen, that is why I took the time to make it so pretty. However, my true magic book is my own and no one will ever see it, except maybe the other in my coven of two.
    My purposes for showing the book is my particular process and how I share my practice with others. I am not affiliated with any specific branch or coven and do not consider myself Wiccan, however I am a practicing witch and so long as there is pure intent, there is no wrong way to go about this.
    I believe that we as individuals like to put our own principles and point them at other people,, never stopping to consider that there are several paths, but the destination is the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for sharing your opinions with me, I truly appreciate seeing things from another persons perspective, its very humbling. I also think that you are not one of the witches that I refer to regarding this matter. I think from your description that your showing/sharing one BOS from an artistic standpoint, while keeping your personal magical book hidden away. Sadly this is not the case for many, its is for some but not for many at all which as part of my personal practice/viewpoint does not sit well. Blessings✬


      • I believe that many newer people to the craft are now a part a culture that shares everything via social media. That, combined with an unclear understanding of what the book is, causes the many videos where people share their working book.
        I am unsure of how old you are, but this generation is more used to being open about what they are doing and I find it quite refreshing.

        Bright Blessings


      • I suppose your right in that aspect, regarding the unclear understanding of what the book is. Perhaps then it really comes down to where people are in their path and how they found their path. Personally the option of sharing my book to another would be a gross invasion of privacy as I come from an all practitioner family. There would be no way that I could really show that part of my craft without compromising the privacy of other members of my family. But I guess for those who have recently discovered their path the thought of honoring the privacy of another really wouldn’t factor into their thought process. Mind you, I have met a few more traditionally minded solitaries that feel quite the strong link to the past and the history pertaining to the foundations of their craft. Personal perspective is a powerful things isn’t it. Blessings


  2. Totally feeling you Karen! While I understand that others may not have any issues with sharing their book of shadows, this is certainly not the case for myself. For me, I believe it takes away from the magick and the mystery of my path as a witch. There is much to be said about keeping certain things sacred. Much love, Feather


  3. What a great article. I feel exactly the same. Mostly these are kids who are enamored with being a Witch or Witchcraft and they really don’t understand what a BOS, magic, or Witchcraft is. I enjoy the videos and appreciate the creativity and most of what is shown is the common stuff found all over the internet with no magic contained in it anyway. Once you start doing a “real” BOS you would never consider showing it publically. That is when you start to understand a BOS, real magic, and Witchcraft, the light goes off in your mind and everything changes. For now I blame lack of understanding on it being a popular fad. Too bad because it is being mass media presented so poorly, but the light will either go off in those called or they will walk away discouraged.


  4. I completely agree with you. I do think that a book of shadows is something that is deeply personal, like an extension of your mind bound in pages. When you write in your book, you;re essentially putting your essence in those words. I decorate my pages in the event of me maybe one day passing it on to someone I deeply trust, I can visually describe what those thoughts meant to me through images and art so they can feel how I felt when I wrote them. Also, to lend power to knowledge. You made some excellent points!


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