The Book of Shadows, and why it might not necessarily be what you think it is.

‘There must be a book, written under the influence of a powerful spiritual inspiration, which forms the permanent nucleus of any movement that is to survive it’s founder. Such a book exalts the consciousness of those who read it and puts them in psychic touch with the sources whence the inspiration came; they are then able to work independently.’ – Dion Fortune- Applied Magic p68

The Book of Shadows… This beautiful and evocative name given to the book of liturgy and rituals within the Craft conjures up all sorts of images in the mind. From a tome that flips open thrice, to hereditary books full of demons, charms and potions. Most of these images are to the credit of movies and television shows like Charmed and Practical Magic.

Don’t get me wrong, I love these images and they can sometimes enhance and inspire the creative expression that we can channel into making a Book of Shadows worthy of the beautiful rituals and lore that it contains.

The Book of Shadows in Traditional Wicca is NOT a journal wherein the witches record all their spells and rituals and thoughts and ideas, neither is it a spell book per se. It is a specific book that contains the core rites and liturgies of the Wica. An initiate would immediately be able to identify a BOS of their specific tradition, as there are some slight, but definitive variations.

After initiation into the Craft, a Witch will usually copy the Book of Shadows from their initiator. This practice has been beautifully retained in the Alexandrian Tradition, and the Book is copied by the initiate by candlelight, preferably for no more than an hour at a time.

Now, another thing about the basic Book of Shadows within the Alexandrian Tradition is that we do not add to this original book. The basic Book of Shadows remains unaltered. This might not necessarily the case in other traditions. We do however have what is sometimes called a Coven Book, in which we will record rituals and experiments and all further development of that which was done within a specific coven. These may or may not be shared among initiates for purposes of sharing knowledge, experience and wisdom, but it is the unique expression of the experiences of that particular coven, and is not added to the core BOS.

Another misconception is that the entirety of the Book has been published. It has not. In other words, you will not find a complete Alexandrian Book of Shadows online, or in print, contrary to what some have claimed. What is also misunderstood is that even if the entire Book was published today, it would be almost entirely worthless without the oral lore and training that goes hand in hand with it. The Book of Shadows can in this way be viewed as a short hand for the initiate who has been trained to work the rites.

Although The Craft is certainly not a “religion of the book”, it remains a religion with core rites and principles that has kept the integrity of the tradition, and will hopefully continue for years to come.

 

Bright Blessings

 

On Lineage

 

The concept of lineage has been a rather big headache and a cause of great confusion for a lot of people in the magickal community, especially in South Africa. There has been quite a bit of misunderstanding about what it is and how it works. This is understandable, as Traditional Wicca, as far as what is known, has only come to South Africa very recently.

Note that this statement is not referring to the many wonderful and diverse new traditions and lineages that sprang up on South African soil over the years, neither to those that may be based on Traditional Wicca, but specifically referring to legitimate Alexandrian and Gardnerian lines.

The thing is that; if you are a practicing Witch or Pagan, but not initiated into a lineaged form of Wicca/Witchcraft, there is no problem. This does not mean that these practices of a more eclectic or different path and persuasion in the great big world of modern witchcraft are any less valid. Lineage however DOES become important when some claim to be practicing initiates of traditions of, which quite frankly, they are not.

But what is lineage anyway?

At its most simplistic level, lineage is a way of confirming who initiated who, and how this initiatory line can be traced back to the founders of a tradition.

Lineage, in Alexandrian Wicca, is transmitted through the initiation rites, and would also be effected by the subsequent training. These are specific rites, containing the specific core liturgy, and specific methods of initiation into said tradition. It implies that a person was brought into the Wicca, by an already initiated member of that tradition, and that the initiator was brought into the mysteries of the tradition in the same way. As already mentioned, this also implies that this line of descent can be traced back to the founders of that tradition. In the case of Alexandrian Witchcraft, that would be Alex and Maxine Sanders.

Now in theory this should be simple, but in practice can bring quite a bit confusion.

For example, let us say A was initiated by Alex Sanders into Alexandrian Wicca. Now A works the Craft for a couple of years and initiates B. B works the craft a couple of years but then goes on to form a completely NEW tradition and changes the initiation rites, changes the names of the Gods, the components of the rite, that now barely resembles, if at all Alexandrian Craft, and initiates C into this new tradition.

Now, although B originally has Alexandrian lineage, C does not, as she was not brought into the original tradition but a completely new one. In this case, B would be the founder of a new tradition, with a completely new lineage. A good real world example would be Raymond Buckland, who brought Gardnerian Wicca to the USA, and then later found Seax Wica. A person initiated into Seax Wica CANNOT claim Gardnerian lineage, just because Raymond was one. This is the same in the case of Ordine Della Luna and Alexandrian Craft.

Another important thing about lineage that is often not realized, or perhaps not known, is that when it is transmitted properly, it would also transmit the magickal current of the tradition to the initiate, which would in turn be passed on. Without digressing into this topic, anyone who has some understanding of occult principle and the work in occult groups and traditions should realize the significance in the matter, and why it would be important in a tradition.

I hope this clarifies some of the questions about what lineage is and how it works.

Brightest Blessings