Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Feast!!!! Now, the subject of Grimiores and your Book of Shadows.
A grimiore is a fairly high level piece of magical writing and should be used only by experienced people. This is a book that calls upon the secrets names of gods and spirits to ask them do you a service. There are several Grimiores out there. They are very difficult to follow and call upon someone who has a very indept study of symbolism, astrology, and the occult. For the beginner I suggest that they leave grimiores alone or use them as study only. Not many witches are ready to practice the rituals set down in grimiores. For those interested in seeing what a grimiore is, look up Key of Solomon, it is a very good grimiore with excellent notes and original charts for consideration. But remember, use it for study only until you are of sufficient level to use it.
A Book of Shadows on the other hand is a wonderful thing to have. It is your magik book, where you write rituals, copy rituals from other people and record results of your magikal work. Every witch has one. It is a dedicated book, meant for only one thing and that is to preserve a witches's personal learning. When you come to certain level and have recorded successes then you can share your BOS with other learners. But as in all things, remember that ours is an esoteric practice and you should be careful who you share your BOS with. Teens should keep their BOS to themselves until they find others who are of their faith. It is not something to show around and impress people with.
Now, there are a lot of commercially published Books of Shadows on the market, in any mainstream book store you can go into the metaphysical department and buy a book of shadows. There are a lot of people who do not believe you should buy a BOS. I myself, do not mind buying them and reading them and then altering them to fit my needs and I still have a lot of success with it though I do alter it to fit my discipline. A good BOS can also help you learn to think about your Craft and familiarize yourself ritual formats and to learn about ingredients and significant symbols and colors and the times of the lunar calendar and seasons. But eventually, you should seek to write your own spells and rituals.
Many BOS are written for the coven in mind but increasingly you can see BOS written for the solitary witch. There are plusses to covenry, which is that you have the opportunity to work with others, to call upon the more experienced for help and you can share what you know. But in a coven, as with all organized human groups there can be a tendency to be fixed in one system of belief and some form of jealousy and a slight disdain for people who do it a different way. This is not an indictment, it simply is the way of human kind. So, in a lot of ways, being a solitary is much better because then you can practice the Craft on your own terms and within the limits of your own discipline.
Whichever way you go, you will want to do some sort of intiation or rite of confirmation, if you will. Many covens have their own rite and if you seek initiation into a coven, then you must go along with their ceremony. Before you decide to initiate, discuss your desires with the priest or priestess of your coven. They can help you decide when to take the initiation and what are in the rites and answer your questions.
If you are a solitary, you might write your own initiation. Some covens of various disciplines believe you can only self initiate the first level, others believe you can self initiate through the second second and third levels. Others believe you can't self initiate at all. I believe you can self initiate all the way to the third level. If you are self initiating, you can write your own rite or you can find a ritual in a book or on the web and tailor it. Do what feels right to you. You should have something for each ritual, like a ring or necklace or bracelet that you can wear all the time or during rituals to celebrate your initiation.
Next time I will discuss some terms like deosil, widdershins, and skyclad!