This year I am participating in the Pagan Blog Project, a weekly posting challenge discussing our viewpoints on faith. For those unfamiliar with this project, the prompts follow the letters of the alphabet – two weeks per letter, on any topic of the writer’s choosing provided that the blog entry has a spiritual focus. I’ll be using this project to do some introspection, re-evaluation, and recentering of myself as I approach my 20th anniversary of my dedication on Lughnasadh this year. They are intentionally written raw, with little editing – so please take any weird grammar, spelling, or jumbled sentences with a bit of a grain of salt. Also, any “you’s” should be viewed as me talking to myself rather than directed at any other person.
Sorry for being a bit late this week. Friday ended up being an insanely busy day at work with a massive amount of typing, and when I got home I just wanted to detach from all things electronic for the evening…
This week, the Pagan Blog Project is focusing on the letter B. I’ll be discussing what my Book of Moons (known to most as a Book of Shadows) means to me, how it’s evolving, and what I hope to do going forward.
Obviously, I don’t use the normal name for my spiritual book. Rather than Shadows, which implies it should be hidden, I prefer to call it a Book of Moons as a symbol of illumination, of shining light on the path I choose to take. I confess it came from less than spiritual beginnings… when I was new to Paganism, I read a novel by Rosemary Edghill called The Book of Moons and loved the title. As with many things in my life, it just sort of stuck around in my brain. So Book of Moons it became. For sake of common terms, however, I’ll be referring to it as the Book of Shadows (BoS) below.
Each Pagan who chooses to write a BoS develops it in a different way. Some may be strictly ritual books, others may be strictly spellbooks. Some are handwritten. Some are purely digital. There’s really no right or wrong way to create one – it’s the practitioner’s way of organizing their notes and experiences as they choose.
Mine is a hodgepodge of everything – rituals, prayers, meanings of colors/runes/astrological signs/etc., experiences I’ve had along the way (either in ritual or mundane life). There are even quotations from books, TV shows, and movies from which I’ve found inspiration. If I were to crack it open, I’m sure I’d find things among the pages that would make me a bit embarrassed. I have to remind myself – it’s where I’ve been, not necessarily where I thought I was going. At the time, it felt important and that’s what matters.
The problem with my personal BoS is that it’s a heavy, impractical thing to physically use during a ritual. When I started my path, I was in college. I really wanted to find THE perfect book to use for my BoS. There are some gorgeous books out there, and like many newbies I had this perfect image in my brain of some heavy old tome filled with the knowledge and inspiration I’d find along the way, complete with dust and crackling pages. You know the ones I’m talking about – those hand-stitched leather jobs with the aged parchment pages that came right out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (or Charmed). What can I say? I was being a silly collegiate romantic. Reality, of course, dictated that I could not blow $300 on one of those insanely gorgeous – but highly impratical – tomes that were handmade. My options were to buy the classic black journal with a big pentacle on the cover, sold at every single Pagan shop in Salem, Mass for the great price of $14.95… or come up with my own idea. I chose the latter. On my collegiate budget, I grabbed a three ring binder that wasn’t being used that semester and started adding pages, mostly printed on some leftover resume stock that was rotting in the journalism department at my university. I developed a huge binder of material over time that’s way too heavy to put on my altar if a candle’s lit, but also uncomfortable to sift through due to its 4″ thick size. About a decade ago I began an attempt to scale down to a smaller BoS, filled only with the standard Sabbat rituals and some basics… but I never got very far. Now the rituals I was going to put into the new copy don’t quite fit me anymore. While I feel it’s important to keep them as part of my personal spiritual history, there’s no need for me to recopy them into a new book unless I find myself wanting to use them again in the future.
Needless to say, I’m over the romantic idea of a huge dusty, secret-filled tome. I need something lighter and more comfortable. My current idea is to fill a comfortable sized journal, then buy another… and maybe keep a separate one to index everything as I go along. Having something that’s portable – perhaps a Moleskine (or similar) is a better choice. I can carry it and add as my whims take me. With indexing, I can pull the right edition from the library if I have that many books written. And I never have to worry about a ritual becoming outdated… it just will sit in its particular book, collected as a footprint of mine along my path.
Surprisingly, this method may bring me closer to that romantic idea of a huge reference than that original $300 book.