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Book of Shadows

I don’t have one.  I have been on this path for 25 years or more and I still don’t have a Book of Shadows.

Why not?
Because indecision may be the basis of flexibility but it is also the bane of progress. In short, I can’t decide how to organize it, and my perfectionist streak wants it to be done right, not just done.

I do know that it is going to be in a three-ring binder instead of a journal-type book.  (So why do I own so many journal type books, including ones that actually say “Book of Shadows” on them?  Um… Good question.  Probably for the same reason that I own enough spiral bound notebooks to stock my own office supply store.)

Why a three-ring binder?  So that I can organize it and find what I’m looking for, and so it has room to grow and still stay organized.

Because my non-existent Book of Shadows has grown.  When I first started it was a “Manilla Folder of Shadows.”  Then it was “A File Cabinet Drawer of Shadows.” Then it became a “Box of Shadows” which at least had the right initials.  That, however, quickly became an “Overflowing Box of Shadows,” which grew into an “Overflowing Box of Shadows with More Scraps of Paper Crammed in Along the Edges.”  And so on.

I know what sort of sections I want, and three of them are spells, prayers, and rituals, but that’s where a large part of the problem comes in:  what distinguishes between the three?  When does a prayer become a spell and when does a spell become a ritual and when does a ritual become a prayer?

For instance, if I make an amulet of protection, and I do it inside a circle and I ask a deity for assistance… is that a spell, a ritual, or a prayer, or all three?  Which section does it belong in?

Another thing that has held me back is the fact that I have lousy handwriting. (There’s that perfectionist streak again…)  That has been more or less circumvented by the existence of computers, so it isn’t really an excuse anymore, although I do really love the idea of a hand written Book of Shadows.

And at this point, I’m wondering if it is worth it to create one.  So much of what I do is informal and spontaneous, not to mention second nature to me, that I wonder if I would even use one.

And yet, I still love the idea of having one, although I don’t know why.  Maybe just for the creativity of it?  My current plan is to use scrapbooks and make a “Scrapbook of Shadows.”  (Which, of course, gives me the excuse of finding the perfect paper for each page…)

I think I’m going to make making a BoS one of my goals for next year.

If anyone reading this has one, what is in it and how is it organized?  I’m open for suggestions.

 

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Kitchen Witch

What is a kitchen witch?  There are a variety of answers to that, but the most common is that a kitchen witch is someone who uses the kitchen and cooking as their primary focus of magic.

Many also set up a small altar in the kitchen.  (When I find the image I want, I will have one to Hestia, the Greek goddess of the hearth, on, over, or near the stove, which is the modern-day equivalent of the hearth.)

I don’t know if I am strictly a kitchen witch, but I do use kitchen magic a great deal: from my own “traditional” meals at Sabbats to daily cooking to making something special.

And, as with many things on my path, I got my start long before I had heard of any form of Paganism, and back when “magic” was just something in fairy tales and fantasy novels.

I was in high school, and was tasked with making a meatloaf for supper.  Normally I didn’t mind cooking, but for some reason lost in the halls of time I really didn’t want to do it that night and was feeling somewhat resentful.

I asked my (paternal) grandfather why his meatloaf always tasted better than mine:   after all, he was the one that I had learned from.

He said he didn’t know, but he would watch me make it and see what I was doing that was different than the way he did it.

Ground beef in a bowl, salt and pepper added, eggs added, I started tearing bread into chunks and dropping them into the bowl, all under his watchful eye.

“It’s the way you’re tearing the bread,” he said, reaching out and taking it from me. Strong gentle fingers broke the bread into pieces.  “You have to do it with love.”

And in those words is the key to kitchen magic – to any magic, really:  intent.

Many years later those words still guide me in my cooking and I am aware of when I am not cooking in a spirit of love and nourishment, but doing it with an attitude of resentment.

I try to remain focused when cooking. (It’s not always possible, but I try.)

I stir widdershins to banish illness if cooking something when I’m sick (or for someone else who is sick), and deosil to draw in health and prosperity.

Of course, the direction you move the spoon isn’t all there is to it:  there is also the focus, intent, and visualization – illness leaving, or abundance and health coming in – imbuing the food with magic.

And, truly, it is the intent that makes the magic…

“You have to do it with love.”

Religion or Magic?

I love synchronicity.  So often it seems that I’ll be thinking about a subject, or talking about it with a friend, and suddenly that same topic seems to turn up in half a dozen different ways in vastly different areas of my life.

The two current topics are finding time for spirituality, which has been cropping up a lot for the last month or so, and, more recently, the use of magic.

And, oddly, the two are related.

When I first started on my path, I did a lot of energy work, both with and without crystals.  Healing, shielding, meditation… all were part of my daily life.  And I cast a circle for every Esbat (full moon ritual, for the non-Pagans who might be reading) and Sabbat (our eight “holy days” (in quotes, because all days are holy – or should be) that mark the turning of the Wheel of the Year.)

And I used magic.   I used it to clear negativity from my home and to keep it a safe haven.  I used it to clear my own emotions.  I used it to help in job-hunting.

I was open to energy and magic and my life was full of wonder and connectedness.

And then… something happened.

I’m not sure what, or why, but it seems as if I sort of… stopped… working.

My Esbats and Sabbats became more informal.  I rarely if ever cast a circle or even had cakes and ale.  They became more of a mental exercise, a meditation on the meaning and event.

And slowly the magic in my life began to fade away.

And I want it back.

“As above, so below,
As within, so without,
As the body, so the soul.”

Somehow I had forgotten the connection:  that what we do on this plane ripples into the others.

I always felt that magic was secondary to the religious and spiritual aspect of my path, but now I am beginning to realize how completely intertwined they are.   When one of them fades – becomes less important in your life – the other fades away as well.  And when I let magic fade — because it was the religion that was important — ritual observances faded away as well, because, after all, it’s what’s in the heart that matters most, right?

I’ve been feeling as if I’ve lost my way, and now I’m beginning to see why:  it’s not magic OR religion, it’s magic AND religion.   And with that realization came the understanding of how to get back on track.

I need to get back to basics, to bring the spiritual into the physical.  That was sort of the point of this blog – that spiritual life was taking second place to physical life and I wanted to correct that, to bring spirituality back into my life.

But I’ve been going about it the wrong way:  instead of trying to bring the spiritual into the physical, I need to start by taking the physical into the spiritual.

“As the body, so the soul.”

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a ritual to see to…