Book of Shadows

Lay It On Me!
by Natalie Zaman

If you live in a place where the weather gets chilly, you'll appreciate the power of LAYERING. You're much warmer when you wear a thermal undies and a sweater and a jacket when you go outside in the snow. The same rule works for magic too--layering makes for more potent spells. Any spell you make will work better if you... 

Write it down--because writing makes it real. Think about it. Have you ever written out a shopping list? How about a list of chores that have to be done (I love crossing off tasks that I've completed!)? Writing helps you to remember and it makes you think about your intention (do I really want this?)--and that's always important when doing magical work. 

Make a touchstone. Once you know exactly what you want, make a touchstone--a physical reminder of your intention that you can carry around with you. Think of it as a souvenir (remembrance) of the purpose of your spell. Looking at your touchstone will send instant energy to your intention.

Get physical! Adding action to a spell keeps the energy around it alive and moving--and we all know that active spells are much more effective than tired, sleepy ones. Action includes actual physical activity and speaking your intentions aloud. 

Write it down. Wait--didn't we just do that? Yes--but you always want to keep track of any changes, dreams and messages you get as an end result of your magical work. Are you ready to make some magic? 

WRITE: Draw a large spiral on a blank piece of paper (or in your Book of Shadows if you have one). Why a Spiral? Take a look at this image:


It spins inward and outward; it shrinks, and it grows. Those are powerful actions that you can put to work in your life. 

Starting at the outer end of the spiral and working inwards, on one side of the line write something that you would like to see fade in the coming year--perhaps a bad habit or feeling. Write it over and over again until you reach the center. 

Next, on the other side of the line, starting at the center of the spiral and working outwards, write something that you would like to see grow in your life over the next year. Maybe you'd like to sharpen a skill you've been practicing, or connect to a spirit guide.

TOUCHSTONE: At the entrance to the burial mound at Newgrange in Ireland is a stone that is covered with spiral carvings. One of the things that makes Newgrange a special place is that at dawn on the Winter Solstice, the sun shines into the entrance of the hill, and for a short time, it lights up the open chamber deep inside--now that's timing! The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year--one of those special in-between times of light and dark, beginnings and endings.



The intentions that you wrote along the spiral can be reinforced by making a physical reminder of that intention--a spiral stone. Find a flat stone that you can easily carry in the palm of your hand. On one side of the stone, starting at the outer edge, draw or paint a spiral spinning inwards (crayons and white out or liquid paper work really well!). While you are making the spiral, think of your fading intention. Turn the stone over and draw another spiral, this time starting from the center of the stone. When you draw or paint this spiral, think of your growing intention. Your spiral stone will be a touchstone to your growing and fading intentions that you can carry with you throughout the coming months. 

ACTION: "Labyrinth" is one of my favorite movies. It's about a girl that goes through a maze filled with tricks and traps to rescue her little brother. A labyrinth is often mistaken for a maze, but where a maze has various routes, dead ends, and several possible solutions, a labyrinth is a single continuous path that eventually brings you to its center. Take a look at this labyrinth:


If you trace the green line around and around, you can get to the center without stopping (and it looks alot like a spiral!). Labyrinths were often built into the floors of churches and were symbolic of life's journey. Walking the labyrinth is a thinking exercise--your brain works very efficiently when you're on the move! Even though the path twists and turns, it is certain, so you can concentrate on your intentions without worrying about which way to go. Go to a place where you have lots of room. Beginning at the outer edge of your space, walk in a circle. With each pass around, move inward to form a spiral. As you walk, speak your fading intention (you can read from your book, you don't have to memorize it). Keep walking and repeating your intention until you get to the center. When you get to the center, pause for a moment, and then, turn around and walk the spiral outwards, this time speaking aloud your growth intention until you reach the outer edge where you began. 

WRITE: Don't forget to keep track of what happens after you do your spell. It might be a while before you see results. Keep your eyes open for subtle signs, changes and messages.


Picture This
by Natalie Zaman

Picture This. Have you ever read a book, and when you closed your eyes—or maybe even as you were reading—you could see the action in the story as you read? Could you see what the characters looked like? What they were wearing? How they smelled? Some credit for that has to go to the writer for painting a vivid picture in words, but some goes to you too. What you are doing when you can see things in your mind without them actually being physically in front of you is called visualization—a very useful skill!

Many people who can visualize are often surprised to learn that other people have a hard time doing it. It's not the easiest thing to master, but worth the effort. Did you know that visualization can help you be a winner? Professional athletes have been known to envision themselves winning a game before they even start to play. Albert Einstein was able to picture mathematical problems in his head before writing them down. The art of envisioning can be a handy tool in reaching goals, and as with any skill, practice makes perfect:

EXERCISE: The next time you're eating your favorite food, have your Book of Shadows handy and open to two clean pages. Before you eat, look at your food. Smell it, touch it, and taste it. As you're eating, be aware of the textures—is it crunchy? Soft? Cold? On the left hand side of the page, write and draw your descriptions. Record everything about the food and your experience in enjoying it. Then, put your Book of Shadows aside for a day or two. Once you've put a little distance between yourself and the experience, try the exercise again. Picture that food in your head. What does it look like? Can you smell it? How did it feel in your hands (if you had to pick it up to eat it), and in your mouth when you were chewing. Don't cheat by looking at the other page! Write or draw what your senses show you in your mind. Now flip to a new page. Was this exercise easy or hard—and why, or why not? Compare and contrast your actual experience to the visualized one—how are they the same and different?

Practice visualizing other sense-experiences. Take a walk in the rain—how does it feel, smell taste—and how does it make you feel? Then wait a day or two and try to recapture it.

We can't always have the object we want to concentrate on in front of us, and you probably want to focus on more than just food! One special tool used for focusing is a scrying mirror. You can use mirrors like these in different ways—but they are great tools for focusing (concentrating)—an essential part of visualization.

Dream Journaling
by Natalie Zaman

It's always a good idea to keep track of any magical work that you do as it will help you to remember and connect information. A magical working that everyone does is DREAM. Think about keeping a dream journal, or if you keep a Book of Shadows, devote a section of it to recording your dreams. Recording your dreams can give you insight into things that are happening in your waking life.

When you record your dreams, write them down in detail as soon as possible after waking. Don't worry about how the dream made you feel--just get down as many details as possible: exactly what happened, as well as any sensory details--sights, smells, sounds and physical sensations of touch--that you experienced. Draw pictures and maps. The important thing is to recall as much as you can.

After you get the specifics down, THEN explore how the dream made you feel. Write about why you think you had the dream--are there any connections you can make to things that are happening in your life right now? In the past? Did anyone speak to you in the dream? Do you think there is a message there? The more you focus on your dreams and recalling them, the better you'll get at it.

Start by giving this exercise a try...



Window of Opportunity
by Katharine Clark and Natalie Zaman

AIR--the element of thoughts and ideas. Think about it: in order for your brain to work properly, it needs a steady flow of oxygen--AIR! But you can harness the power of this element in another way. When you want or need something and it seems that all doors are closed, open a window--a Window of Opportunity.

For this spell crafting, you'll need:
  • Cardboard 
  • Scissors 
  • Pens, markers or crayons 
  • String 

First, think about what you want to accomplish. Do you want to finish that summer reading so it's not hanging over your head before school starts? Or maybe you want to improve your skills at a sport or hobby. Think about what you want, then ask yourself, "Is this important enough for me to use magic to get it done?" It's a tough question, but important one. Magic isn't meant to be used for stuff like beating your best video game score, getting a new toy, or making other people do what you want. Use magic to help you focus on improving yourself, growing and being healthy. If you want to use magic to help someone else, talk to them about it first. What they need or want may be very different from what you think they need or want. 

Once you've established your need, take your cardboard and cut it into a rectangular, circular or square shape (windows come in several shapes!). Then, carefully cut out the center of the cardboard so that you're left with a frame (it should be about 1-2 inches depending on the size of your piece of cardboard). If your cardboard has printing on it, paint it, or cover it with plain paper. 

Next, think about your need and put it into a simple phrase. For example, we made our Window of Opportunity to help us finish the work that had piled up since the Summer started. We needed to stay focused and on task, so we used the phrase, "Focus, Finish and Do a Good Job." Try out a few different phrases until you find the one that sounds right to you (Hint: use your Book of Shadows for this, and try saying the phrases out loud). Keeping your goal in mind, write your phrase around the frame. Fill in both sides and concentrate while you're writing. Use colors that suit your goals. Planting a garden? Use green. Trying out for a team? Try using the team's colors. You can also add images related to your goal--the point is to have everything focused on what you want to accomplish. 

The rain washed all the writing away, but the window's still working!

Hang your window using the string (this can also be in a color that is special to your need). Make sure you place it where the Summer wind can pass through it and bring its power to your spell. 

What do you do next? Wait... and work. Never rely on magic to do everything for you--but DO keep track of your progress in your Book of Shadows. Make note of any changes in your situation. Have you seen improvements? Why or why not? If things are going well and they begin to slow down, try tying a crystal to your window and recite your phrase out loud to refocus your spell and yourself. Go on, open that window!

Crow Magic!
by Keri Lefave, Art by Morgaine du Mer

It's 5 a.m. A warm summer breeze pokes its way through the window screen, softly caressing your face. Lazily, you roll over onto your back, relishing that sleepy state of comfort. Just as you are about to slip back into dreamland, you are jolted, wide awake, sleep no longer an option. It is a new day and the messenger of such is making sure that everyone knows it!

If you haven’t already guessed it, that messenger is jet black and screeching out its throaty, unmistakable trademark of “caw-caw” - the aggravating and annoying, crow! The crow is a member of the “corvidae” family which includes magpies, blue jays and ravens. Ravens have often been mistaken for the crow because of their similarity. The only real difference between them is that the raven is much larger and found more in wilderness areas.


Not everyone views the crow just as a loud, obnoxious, black bird. In Roman mythology crows were as white as snow. One day, the crow brought Apollo (a Greek god) bad news that made him very angry. It is believed that in a fit of fury, he turned the crow from white to inky black. Native Americans believe that animals serve as “totems” or spirit guides. A totem is an object or animal whose energy attaches to someone during their life time. It is believed that if you have a crow as your totem, there are many lessons that they can teach you. Lessons such as how to be at peace when you are alone, as well as within a group; how to value yourself and give yourself the best out of life; and how to find joy in exploring new things.

With the crow as your totem also comes responsibility. When you encounter people who are in emotional pain or are bitter and do not have the intentions of doing good to others or to themselves, it is your role to guide them into a place where they can forgive the people who have hurt them. However, before you can do this for others, you must first turn your own bitterness, anger, and hurt into love and forgiveness. Native legend also states that the crow is very mystical and is able to bring messages to the living from ancestors in the spirit realm.


DID YOU KNOW... 

...the crow is considered to be the smartest of all birds. Some studies indicate that crows can even count! 


...during mating season, the male crow makes himself look as handsome as possible. When he finds that special female crow, they build their nest together. 

...the great horned owl is crows’ most deadly enemy, and at night their nests are extremely vulnerable.  

...the crow is a member of the songbird family (now, that’s hard to believe!) and has 25 different calls. 

...crows live in all parts of the world, except for Antarctica, South America and New Zealand.


If you take the time to observe the crow, you will see that they are very watchful and always have a member posted as the lookout. Their nests are made with an outer basket of sticks and then filled with mud and grass. As a finishing touch, they are lined with something soft like spongy, green moss. These large, bulky nests are built high up in the trees so they can observe their living and feeding area in its entirety. Their keen, piercing eyes miss nothing. Sometimes they have been observed to attack and kill one of their own. It is an old belief that they do this to the lookout crow who failed to warn of danger. Crows are notorious for warning other animals and birds of any threat or lurking danger. They are very social and are masters at working together.


Crows are extremely curious and they have to explore anything that catches their attention. In fact, they are thieves! Shiny things, like coins or jewelry left unattended, could likely end up in their tree top nests. They also have an insatiable appetite and will eat almost anything. It is nothing for them to steal food from other birds or whatever is lying around. Don’t leave that food on the picnic table unattended! Remember – they are watching!


When you look closely at the crow, especially on a bright, sunny day, their feathers give hints of deep blues and purples that glisten like a shiny, well polished shoe. Although the crow is a daytime bird, black is the colour of night. The colour black has long time been associated with magic (i.e. “black magic”) and traditionally it is what the crow symbolized, but their blackness is also a reminder that every pitch-black night miraculously gives birth to a brand new day.

So the next time your sleep is cut short in the early morning hours by that rambunctious, obnoxious, aggravating, big black pest, consider this: maybe he is trying to give you a message that magic is all around you and that life itself is magical!

Wands Upon A Time
by Katharine Clark and Claude Swinburne
Focusing is an important part of practicing magic, and there are a number of tools that can help you achieve this--like the wand. Wands are directly linked to Nature and the four elements, the source of all physical life. Wood wands, in particular, are quite common because they hold elements of earth, fire, water and air. In Irish myth, oak, ash, thorn and hazel are the most noble of the trees and, therefore, the best for wand making, but you can use any that “speak” to you. One of our friends, author Pauline Campanelli, liked to use a fallen twig from her favorite twisted filbert tree! The tree is anchored in earth, draws water and nutrients from the soil, releases oxygen through its leaves, and is burned for fuel. Wood naturally conducts energy.

Other materials are popular as well, and for the same reason: conductivity. Crystal wands are great at drawing energy from your hand chakra and directing it outward, as are those made of copper. Your wand can be as simple or fancy as you like. The feel is most important. How does it rest in your hand? Does it feel too light, too heavy, or too awkward? When you extend your arm and point at an object in the distance, does it seem like a natural part of you, or does your arm get weak and shaky? When you draw a pentagram in the air, can you sense your energy moving outward through the wand? These are things to consider when making your selection. Obtaining a wand can be as simple as finding a fallen branch with an interesting twig, buying one from a Craft store or festival, or making your own. Crafting a wand yourself allows you to bind your energy to the wand at all times, not just when it's in use. In fact, you can easily craft a wand that combines wood, crystal AND copper. You will need:

  • Hot glue gun 
  • Piece of copper pipe (This should be about one inch around and a foot long or less (depending what length feels comfortable in your hand). Building supply and plumbing supply stores carry this kind of pipe. They may even have scrap pieces that they will give away. )
  • Crystal point (Clear quartz is easiest to obtain and most affordable. New Age shops and Nature stores will carry them. The crystal should fit snuggly into your pipe, but not all the way. You want your crystal point to show!) 
  • Material to wrap around the pipe. (This can be fabric that you like, but scrap leather or suede work best. We got ours from an old furniture show room sample book, but craft stores also carry bags of scrap pieces. You may also find scrap pieces at fabric stores.)
  • Leather lacing, ribbon or jute string
  • beadgem stone, charm, shell (or any decoration you would like to use) to cap the end of the pipe.
  • Filling for the wand. You don't have to, of course, but you may wish to fill the copper pipe with things that will intensify the working of your wand, like sea salt for cleansing, rice for grounding, special herbs for special purposes, sea shells or bit of coral to attune it to moon magic, etc.
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First, hot glue around the crystal point as it sits tightly in the wand. You want it to make good contact with the pipe because the copper will take the energy from your hand, when you hold it, and direct it up to the crystal.

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When the glue dries, turn the pipe upside down and pour in your filling. If you decided to cap your wand with another crystal or stone, you can fill it to the top, place the stone over the opening, and hot glue all around to seal it to the pipe. 

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Your end cap bead, stone, shell, etc. should be large enough to plug the end of the wand (For this wand, three long pieces of jute were passed through the hole of the bead to make fringe. You can use ribbon or even thick embroidery floss instead). Glue the bead onto the pipe (knot side in if you've made a fringed bead).

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Now, you're ready to wrap the wand in your material. You should cut your piece long enough to cover any hot glue around the crystal point and your end cap. It should wrap around the pipe with just enough to overlap where you started. Before you start to glue down the material: decide what side of the crystal point you like best. When you point it, what side of the crystal do you want to see? This will be the front of the wand. You should start gluing down the material on the BACK of the wand. This way, the seam that will be created, when you're done, will be on the underside.

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Finally, you get to decorate! For this wand, suede lacing was used. Figure out the location of the middle of the piece (always make your length of ribbon or thong long enough to decorate the entire wand).

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Glue the center onto the top of the seam behind the crystal, then criss-cross the lacing all the way down. Glue the end pieces on the bottom of the wand, on the seam.

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You can add any special beads or charms to the body of the wand. For this piece, a bone star was glued onto the body of the wand, and beads tied to the fringe.

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Your new wand will hold the energy of the crystal you chose, but also the copper, and any filling you may have used--and, of course, your own vibrations. After all, YOU selected the stone to use, the colors, and even the purpose. Happy casting!

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