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Review: The Witch’s Book of Shadows

Jason Mankey is an amazing researcher and writer – always easy to follow, informative and entertaining. His latest book, The Witch’s Book of Shadows: The Craft, Lore & Magick of the Witch’s Grimoire exceeded my expectations. I mean, what can you say about a Book of Shadows that would fill a whole book, right? Well, Jason did it. This is THE book on Books of Shadows.

In the book he thoroughly examines the different uses of Books of Shadows – from a personal spell book and magickal reference to the spiritual journal to the Book of Shadows of various witchcraft Traditions and Covens. He explores the pros and cons of different types of Books of Shadows including the handwritten, the cut and paste collage style, using three ring binders and more modern digital methods such as flash drives, cloud services and using print on demand services.

The book contains advice, tips and tricks on crafting your Book of Shadows and organizing the contents within them. Most of all, he helps you make your Book of Shadows your very own. He provides magickal ink formulas, different alphabets, symbols and shorthands traditionally used in Books of Shadows as well as his personal favorites. Jason also provides different rituals, blessings, cleansings and empowerments for your Books of Shadows to truly make it a magickal tool.

Throughout the book are beautiful illustrations and short pieces written by guest contributors called “Every Trick in the Book”. My personal favorite was by Laura Tempest Zakroff called “No Fear Grimoire Crafting”. I am a perfectionist when it comes to my Books of Shadows, grimoires and journals. Laura talks about how she thinks of the Book of Shadows like she does the cookbook that is passed down through her family. Part of the sacredness of her family cookbook is the history within the hand written notes and the various food stains of trial and error attempts. The idea really struck a chord for me, viewing the Book of Shadows as a messy recipe book of experimentation and less as an illuminated manuscript that must be perfect.

My absolute favorite part of the book was his exploration of the history of the Books of Shadows from the grimoire traditions to the very first publicly made Books of Shadows and the drama and evolution of Books of Shadows that came along with that. Much of the historical information I had never come across before and the pieces of information I did know were put together into a nice comprehensive timeline to help me understand the history of the Books of Shadows traditions much more thoroughly. I would recommend this book to any magickal practitioner who wants to give their grimoires and Book of Shadows more life, whether they be seekers, neophytes or adepts.