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BOS

BOS

Book Shadows Mk01

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Book Shadows Mk03

Book Shadows Mk04

Despite popular movies and television shows, there is no one single book of shadows. A book of shadows, or BOS, is a Wiccan or Pagan’s notebook of information. It usually contains spells, rituals, correspondence charts, information about the rules of magic, invocations, myths and legends of various pantheons, etc. Sometimes information in a BOS is passed along from one Wiccan to another (and in a coven setting, there may be a coven BOS as well as individual members’ books), but you can create your own with a little bit of effort. A BOS is a very personal thing, and should contain the information you find most important.

How To Make a Book of Shadows

The Book of Shadows (BOS) is used to store information you’ll need in your magical tradition, whatever it may be. Many Pagans and Wiccans feel a BOS should be handwritten, but some use a computer to store information as well. Bear in mind that a BOS is considered a sacred tool, which means it is an item of power that should be consecrated with all of your other magical tools. In many traditions, it is believed you should copy spells and rituals into your BOS by hand – this will not only transfer energy to the writer, but it also helps you to memorize the contents.

Make sure you write legibly enough that you’ll be able to read your notes during a ritual!

To make your Book of Shadows, begin with a blank notebook. A popular method is to use a three-ring binder so items can be added and rearranged as needed. If you use this style of BOS, you can use sheet protectors as well, which is great for preventing candle wax and other ritual drippings from getting on the pages! Whatever you select, your title page should include your name. Make it fancy or simple, depending on your preference, but remember that the BOS is a magical object and should be treated accordingly. Many witches simply write, “The Book of Shadows of [your name]” on the front page.

What format should you use? Some witches are known to create elaborate Books of Shadows in secret, magical alphabets. Unless you’re fluent enough in one of these systems that you can read it without having to check notes or a chart, stick with your native language. While a spell looks beautiful written out in flowing Elvish script or Klingon lettering, the fact is that it’s just hard to read unless you’re an Elf or a Klingon.

When it comes to the contents of your personal BOS, there are a few sections that are nearly universally included.

Laws of your coven or tradition:

  • Believe it or not, magic has rules. While they may vary from group to group, it’s a really good idea to keep them at the front of your BOS as a reminder of what constitutes acceptable behavior and what doesn’t. If you’re part of an eclectic tradition that doesn’t have written rules, or if you’re a solitary witch, this is a good place to write down what YOU think are acceptable rules of magic. After all, if you don’t set yourself some guidelines, how will you know when you’ve crossed over them? This may include a variation on the Wiccan Rede, or some similar concept.

A dedication:

  • If you’ve been initiated into a coven, you may want to include a copy of your initiation ceremony here. However, many Wiccans dedicate themselves to a God or Goddess long before they become part of a coven. This is a good place to write out who you are dedicating yourself to, and why. This can be a lengthy essay, or it can be as simple as saying, “I, Willow, dedicate myself to the Goddess today, June 21, 2007.”

Gods and Goddesses:

  • Depending on what pantheon or tradition you follow, you may have a single God and Goddess, or a number of them. Your BOS is a good place to keep legends and myths and even artwork concerning your Deity. If your practice is an eclectic blend of different spiritual paths, it’s a good idea to include that here.

Correspondence tables:

  • When it comes to spellcasting, correspondence tables are some of your most important tools. Phases of the moon, herbs, stones and crystals, colors – all have different meanings and purposes. Keeping a chart of some sort in your BOS guarantees that this information will be at the ready when you really need it. If you have access to a good almanac, it’s not a bad idea to record a years’ worth of moon phases by date in your BOS.

Sabbat rituals:

  • The Wheel of the Year includes eight holidays for most Wiccans and Pagans, although some traditions do not celebrate all of them. Your BOS can include rituals for each of the Sabbats. For example, for Samhain you may wish to create a rite that honors your ancestors and celebrates the end of the harvest, while for Yule you may want to write down a celebration of the winter Solstice. A Sabbat celebration can be as simple or complex as you wish.

Other rituals:

  • If you’ll be celebrating each full moon, you’ll want to include an Esbat rite in your BOS. You can use the same one each month, or create several different ones tailored to the time of year. You may also wish to include sections on how to cast a circle and Drawing Down the Moon, a rite that celebrates the invoking of the Goddess at the time of the full moon. If you’ll be doing any rites for healing, prosperity, protection, or other purposes, be sure to include them here.

Herbs:

  • Ask any experienced Pagan or Wiccan about a specific herb, and chances are good that they’ll expound on not only the magical uses of the plant but also the healing properties and history of use. Herbalism is often considered the core of spellcasting, because plants are an ingredient that people have used for literally thousands of years. Put together a section in your BOS for herbs and their uses. Remember, many herbs should not be ingested, so it’s important to research thoroughly before you take anything internally.

Divination:

  • If you’re learning about Tarot, scrying, astrology, or any other form of divination, keep information in here. When you experiment with new methods of divination, keep a record of what you do and results you see in your Book of Shadows.

Sacred texts:

  • While it’s fun to have a bunch of new shiny books on Wicca and Paganism to read, sometimes it’s just as nice to have information that’s a little more established. If there is a certain text that appeals to you, such as The Charge of the Goddess, an old prayer in an archaic language, or a particular chant that moves you, include it in your Book of Shadows.

Magical recipes:

  • There’s a lot to be said for “kitchen witchery,” because for many people, the kitchen is the center of hearth and home. As you collect recipes for oils, incense, or herb blends, keep them in your BOS. You may even want to include a section of food recipes for Sabbat celebrations.

Spell workings:

  • Some people prefer to keep their spells in a separate book called a grimoire, but you can also keep them in your Book of Shadows. It’s easier to keep spells organized if you divide them up by purpose: prosperity, protection, healing, etc. With each spell you include – particularly if you write your own rather than using someone else’s ideas – make sure you also leave room to include information on when the working was performed and what the outcome was.

The biggest dilemma with any Book of Shadows is how to keep it organized. You can use tabbed dividers, create an index at the back, or if you’re really super-organized, a table of contents in the front. As you study and learn more, you’ll have more information to include – this is why the three-ring binder is such a practical idea. Some people choose instead to use a simple bound notebook, and just add to the back of it as they discover new items.

Keep in mind that as our technology is constantly changing, the way we use it does too – there are people who keep their BOS completely digitally on a flash drive, their laptop, or even stored virtually to be accessed by their favorite mobile device. A BOS pulled up on a smart phone is no less valid than one copied by by hand in ink onto parchment.

You may want to use one notebook for information copied from books or downloaded off the Internet, and another for original creations. Regardless, find the method that works best for you, and take good care of your Book of Shadows. After all, it’s a sacred object and should be treated accordingly!

Tips:

  • If you find a rite, spell or piece of information somewhere else, be sure to note down the source. It will help you keep organized, and you’ll start to recognize patterns in authors’ works.
  • Add a section that includes books you’ve read, as well as what you thought of them. This way, when you get a chance to share information with others, you’ll remember what you’ve read.
  • Want to hear what other readers have done with their BOS? Be sure to check in over at our Readers Respond page!

The Lost Bearded White Brother

Celebrating the Litha – Summer Solstice

Participants

High Priest
High Priestess

Material Needed

Traditional Foods: Garden fresh fruits and vegetables are made into a variety of dishes and eaten by Pagan’s who choose to celebrate this day.

Herbs and Flowers: Mugwort, Vervain, Chamomile, Rose, Honeysuckle, Lily, Oak, Lavender, Ivy, Yarrow, Fern, Elder, Wild Thyme, Daisy, Carnation.

Honey: Our lovely bees are now making honey. Midsummer full moon is known as the ‘Honey Moon’ for the mead made from honey now available. This is often part of handfastings performed at the Summer Solstice. Mead is regarded as the divine solar drink, with magical and life-restoring properties. Drink to celebrate and toast the life-giving abundance of the Sun.

Incense: Lemon, Myrrh, Pine, Rose, Wisteria.

Woods Burned: Oak.

Sacred Gemstone: Emerald.

Before The Ceremony

High Priest

Clean the tools and ingredients with Copal-Cinnamon incense.

Statement Of Intent

High Priest

The Goddess at Litha

At the Summer Solstice, the Goddess is the Generous Mother, Freya, Flora, Habondia, she who gives life and fruitfulness to all her children. Everything in nature is generous – otherwise we could not live. The apple tree makes hundreds of apples every year, when only one seed in one apple would be enough to reproduce the tree. Bees make honey so that the hive can survive the winter, but they keep on working all summer long, storing enough to share. Life could exist without climbing roses, striped butterflies, songbirds, raspberries, or wildflowers, but the Goddess keeps making new forms of beauty for us to enjoy.

The Goddess at Summer Solstice gives us not just what we need, but extra. We can feel close to her by being generous, giving more than were asked to give, and doing more than just our fair share. That way, we make abundance for all.

The rose is the Goddess symbol at this time of year. Roses bloom abundantly in June, and we can take joy in their sweet scent and the lovely colors of their petals.

Opening Of Circle

Together

(Walking clockwise from East)

By the air that is her breath
By the fire that is her bright spirit
By the living waters of her womb
And by the earth that is her body
The circle is cast,

(Tie the knot of the circle)

So Mote It Be!

Invoking The Watchtowers

Together

East (Air)

Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East,
The powers of air.

We welcome you all to our circle today.

So Mote It Be!

South (Fire)

Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtowers of the South,
The powers of fire.

We welcome you all to our circle today.

So Mote It Be!

West (Water)

Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtowers of the West,
The powers of water.

We welcome you all to our circle today.

So Mote It Be!

North (Earth)

Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtowers of the North,
The powers of earth.

We welcome you all to our circle today.

So Mote It Be!

Invoke The God And Goddess

High Priest

I now do call the Eternal God to our circle today, send thy Spirit forth! Pierce our Sacred Circle with thy vibrant presence. Flow through our bodies this day. Blessed be the Eternal God.

High Priestess

I call the Eternal Goddess to our circle today, send thy Spirit forth! Pierce our Sacred Circle with thy vibrant presence. Flow through our bodies this day. Blessed be the Eternal Goddess.

High Priest

The Circle is cast; we are between the worlds. In this place that is not a place, in this time that is not a time, with a willing suspension of disbelief, we consider the possible, explore the probable, and question the truth.

So mote it be!

Together

May the place of this rite be consecrated before the gods. Eternal Gods and Goddesses of Nature are with us.

Blessed Be!

High Priestess

Be with us here, O beings of the Air may your warmth bring us love and success!

(High priestess lights incense)

High Priest

Be with us here, O beings of the Fire may your presence give us the strength so that our future is bright!

(High priest consecrates and lights the large candle)

High Priestess

Be with us here, O beings of the Water may your presence enlighten us with your wisdom!

(All drink sherry from the glass)

High Priest

Be with us here, O beings of the Earth may your presence bring us joy that will be long lasting!

(High priest scatters salt on altar)

Ceremony Begins

High Priestess

All through the first half of the year, since his birth at the Winter Solstice, the God has been growing into this life in the visible, tangible world. Now, at the Summer Solstice, he transforms. The daylight is longest and strongest at this time, but now the power of night must begin to grow again. Everything and everyone who fulfills their purpose must change. The God dies in this world in order to be born into the Otherworld. Before, he was awake in this world and asleep in the Dreamworld. Now he becomes the Dreamer, asleep in this world but awake in the world of dreams and visions, the seed of what will come to be in this world. He becomes the Messenger, carrying our hopes and prayers to the spirit realms.

Blessed Be!

High Priest

Behold the God and Goddess, Lord of the Forest and his Bride, once again the Earth is blessed by their presence.

So mote it be!

High Priestess

This is the time of purification, and a renewing of life. This is the time of the quickening. At this time and in this place between the worlds, I come into the presence of the Lord and the Lady that I may gain wise and truthful counsel.

Blessed Be!

Together

Every beginning has an ending, and every ending is a new beginning. In Life is Death, and in Death is Life. Watch over us, loved ones, and all of our Brothers and Sisters, here and departed, who, tonight are joined together again for fellowship and celebration. Bless us all as we light our bonfires, our hearth fires, and the eternal fires in our hearts. Guide us and protect us, tonight and throughout the coming year.

Blessed Be! Blessed Be!

High Priest

Places a pinch of salt on each member’s tongue. My body is salt, taste the breath of death.

High Priestess

You are entering a space of perfect freedom as each visualizes their hopes for their life to come with the coming of the Sun, places a drop of honey on each member’s tongue. Taste the sweetness of life.

Together

Looking at the candle I who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday! (repeat)

This is the birthday of life and love and wings, and the great joyous happening inimitably earth. We are born again, we shall live again! (repeat).

The Sun Child, the Winterborn King!

High Priest

Lord, You who is the freedom of the wild things, the bright sun that lights the day, the mystery of the forest, he resolve in the heart of humanity, we welcome you in our midst for you are the body of nature who gives life to the universe. We thank thee for all the good and the bad that happened to us in the past year. The good as it makes our lives happier. The bad as it makes our souls stronger and strengthen our resolve to do better.

So mote it be!

Together

So mote it be!

High Priestess

The old solar year has run its course and completed its cycle. So has some of our habits or traits completed their cycles and outlived their usefulness. This is a time for shedding that which is no longer needed. Take a few moments now to consider which things you would leave behind as you go into the coming year.

So blessed be!

(Pause)

As the old year dies away so to will these old ways will fade into memory.

So mote it be!

Together

So mote it be!

Together

(Consecrates the assorted small candles with oil and then light them)

Water, Air, Fire, Earth
We celebrate the Sun’s rebirth
On this dark and longest night
We burn the sacred candles bright

We thank thee for the light of the sun
Hail to thee, O Great Horned One

So mote it be!

Spellwork

(Spellwork & Magic are anything but supernatural for most Wiccans and Pagans. Learn about magical theory, how energy is manipulated, choosing your magical name, herb and candle magic, and protection rituals. Also covered: should you pay someone else to cast a spell for you?)

(This is a Midsummer Charm to help bring abundance to your kitchen, joyous celebration, bonfire, barbeque and feel free to include dancing, clapping and music)

Conclusion

High Priest

May the rest of this year bring us happiness! We shall never forget the turning of the wheel, only then in the forgetfulness and neglect will it fail us.

So mote it be!

Together

So mote it be!

High Priestess

By earth and water, air and fire hearken onto my desire my home be charged by magic charm safe protected from all harm blessed with health, vitality by Sun and Earth, by three times three in love and trust.

So mote it be!

High Priest

By this act of faith I proclaim my belief in my place on the Eternal cycle of life blessed be the Great Rite the God and Goddess reign eternal.

Dismiss Watchtowers

Together

We thank you for joining our ceremony today. As ye depart to your mighty realms, we bid thee Hail and Farewell, and harm ye none on your way.

So Mote It Be

North (Earth)

Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtowers of the North.
The powers of earth.

We thank you all for joining our ceremony today. As ye depart to your mighty realms, we bid thee Hail and Farewell, and harm ye none on your way.

So Mote It Be!

West (Water)

Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtowers of the West.
The powers of water.

We thank you all for joining our ceremony today. As ye depart to your mighty realms, we bid thee Hail and Farewell,aAnd harm ye none on your way.

So Mote It Be!

South (Fire)

Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtowers of the South.
The powers of fire.

We thank you all for joining our ceremony today. As ye depart to your mighty realms, we bid thee Hail and Farewell, and harm ye none on your way.

So Mote It Be!

East (Air)

Hail to thee Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East.
The powers of air.

We thank you all for joining our ceremony today. As ye depart to your mighty realms, we bid thee Hail and Farewell,and harm ye none on your way.

So Mote It Be!

Open The Circle

Together

(First cut the knot. Walking counterclockwise from East.)

By the air that is her breath
By the earth that is her body
By the living waters of her womb
And by the fire that is her bright spirit
The circle is open but not unbroken.

May the joy of the Goddess live in our hearts
Merry Meet,
Merry Part,
And Merry Meet Again!

The Lost Bearded White Brother

Modern Wicca and Neo-Druidism

In Wicca, the narrative of the Wheel of the Year traditionally centres on the sacred marriage of the God and the Goddess and the god/goddess duality. In this cycle, the God is perpetually born from the Goddess at Yule, grows in power at the vernal equinox (as does the Goddess, now in her maiden aspect), courts and impregnates the Goddess at Beltane, reaches his peak at the summer solstice, wanes in power at Lammas, passes into the underworld at Samhain (taking with him the fertility of the Goddess/Earth, who is now in her crone aspect) until he is once again born from Her mother/crone aspect at Yule. The Goddess, in turn, ages and rejuvenates endlessly with the seasons, being courted by and giving birth to the Horned God.

Many Wiccan, Neo-Druid, and eclectic Neopagans incorporate a narrative of the Oak King and the Holly King as rulers of the waxing year and the waning year respectively. These two figures battle endlessly with the turning of the seasons. At the summer solstice, the Holly King defeats the Oak King and commences his reign. After the Autumn equinox the Oak King slowly begins to regain his power as the sun begins to wane. Come the winter solstice the Oak King in turn vanquishes the Holly King. After the spring equinox the sun begins to wax again and the Holly King slowly regains his strength until he once again defeats the Oak King at the summer solstice. The two are ultimately seen as essential parts of a whole, light and dark aspects of the male God, and would not exist without each other.

The Holly King is often portrayed as a woodsy figure, similar to the modern Santa Claus, dressed in red with sprigs of holly in his hair and the Oak King as a fertility god.

Litha (Midsummer)

Midsummer, also known as St John’s Day, or Litha, is the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, and more specifically the Northern European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice or take place on a day between June 21 and June 25 and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary between different cultures. The Christian Church designated June 24 as the feast day of the early Christian martyr St John the Baptist, and the observance of St John’s Day begins the evening before, known as St John’s Eve.

These are commemorated by many Christian denominations. In Sweden the Midsummer is such an important festivity that there have been serious discussions to make the Midsummer’s Eve into the National Day of Sweden, instead of June 6. It may also be referred to as St. Hans Day.

Midsummer is one of the four solar holidays, and is considered the turning point at which summer reaches its height and the sun shines longest. Among the Wiccan sabbats, Midsummer is preceded by Beltane, and followed by Lammas or Lughnasadh.

Some Wiccan traditions call the festival Litha, a name occurring in Bede’s Reckoning of Time (De Temporum Ratione, 7th century), which preserves a list of the (then-obsolete) Anglo-Saxon names for the twelve months. Ærra Liða (first or preceding Liða) roughly corresponds to June in the Gregorian calendar, and Æfterra Liða (following Liða) to July. Bede writes that “Litha means gentle or navigable, because in both these months the calm breezes are gentle and they were wont to sail upon the smooth sea”.

The Lost Bearded White Brother