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Into the Coven: Writing a Book of Shadows

By Jason Mankey

I’m not sure that every coven unrelated to a specific tradition needs a “Book of Shadows.” I probably wanted one for my coven because I have strange control issues. After finding a ritual structure that worked for our circle I wanted to get it all down on paper, and share it with everyone in our little group. For our group a BoS made perfect sense because we work the same way ritual to ritual.

A BoS is not necessarily a rigid, never-changing book of instructions, but it often contains ideas that consistently work. If the quarter calls I’m using “work” why would I want to change them every month or so? I also think there’s real power in repeating a ritual structure over and over again. It takes the guess work out of ritual and creates an atmosphere that lets the mind and spirit quickly ease into ritual mode. When my coven’s opening chant starts I’m in “work mode” and instantly push outside concerns away.

Our first Book of Shadows was a pamphlet I printed up at what was formerly Kinko’s. All it included was our (then) basic ritual structure and a story I wrote years ago about the creation of the universe. Due to my long-windedness it wasn’t that short, but twenty pamphlet size pages isn’t all that much to go on. In typical Jason fashion there’s a dash of history in there too when introducing things like The Charge of the Goddess.

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