"An emotionally satisfying, riveting read, arguably the best--certainly the most unusual--memoir of the year. One might even be tempted to call it 'bewitching.'"
--Sonoma County Independent
"An engaging memoir of magic and self-discovery . . . [Book of Shadows] presents some fine insights into the role Witchcraft plays in the complex milieu of American religion."
"Wise words from a smart and savvy priestess of the Goddess; the writing is beautiful, the rituals deep and compelling."
--Margot Adler, Drawing Down the Moon
"Most people know intuitively that when you fall in love the world is full of magic. What they don't know is that when you discover the universe is full of magic, you fall in love with the world."
When high-powered Manhattan lawyer Phyllis Curott began exploring Witchcraft, she discovered a spiritual movement that defied all stereotypes. Encountering neither satanic rites nor eccentric spinsters, she came to know a clandestine religion of the Goddess that had been forced into hiding over the course of history. Book of Shadows recounts Curott's remarkable initiation into Wicca (meaning "wise one") and shares her insights as a high priestess of an elegant, ancient spirituality that celebrates the magic of being alive.
An Ivy-league graduate and promising lawyer, Curott was a typical young woman in her twenties, determined to forge a law career within the burgeoning, male-dominated music industry. But when she began having prophetic dreams and mysterious visions of ancient female figures and unfamiliar symbols, she discovered an unexpected world of magic and began searching for a rational explanation. When her friend Sophia--a practicing Witch--suggested having her cards read by a Wiccan High Priestess, Curott instinctively dismissed the idea, but then forced her natural skepticism aside on the chance that this age-old practice might help her understand the unusual occurrences in her life.
Thus begins her journey into the magical world of Witchcraft, a religion originally practiced by priestesses, shamans, and healers that empowers our lives by working with the natural cycles of nature. Fascinated by this pre-Judeo-Christian religion that honors women as the embodiment of the Goddess and emphasizes respect and love for the natural world, Curott began attending a local coven's weekly circle to learn the sacred arts. Her Book of Shadows chronicles her ascent to the position of Wiccan High Priestess and her efforts to reconcile her newfound spirituality with her struggles as a woman rising through the ranks of the corporate world. Along the way, Curott relates the history of Witchcraft and shares many traditional Wiccan practices, such as casting a circle, drawing down the Goddess, harnessing the powers of the natural world, and casting spells for health, prosperity, and love.
Engagingly written and rich with detailed rituals and techniques, this inspirational book traces a modern woman's spiritual journey into a realm of extraordinary experience and enlightenment. Book of Shadows provides us with the keys to discover an enchanted world of divine empowerment so as to unlock the power that lies within us all. --
© Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Thousands of years ago, the Sumerians created a legendary collection of invocations to the Goddess, ordaining their magical corpus of poetry and songs a "Book of Shadows." Over time, Book of Shadows has come to refer to a Witch's journal, a record of spiritual wisdom, a diary of spells, songs, chants, rituals, and invocations. This is my Book of Shadows, the story of my first encounter with the ancient ways of the Goddess. It is the true story of a modern woman's spiritual journey into a realm long forgotten by Western culture. It is a chronicle of discovery, challenge, and transformation…
Like most people, there was a time when I thought Witches existed only in the realm of make-believe. Whether they were real, and whether they actually had magical powers, were not questions I even considered as a philosophy student at Brown University, and certainly not later as a young practicing Manhattan attorney. After all, why would a well-educated, professional woman be interested Witches, let alone willingly become one?
Then, twenty years ago, a series of mysterious coincidences led me to a world where I discovered the answers not only to these questions, but to questions buried at the center of my soul--questions, it turns out, millions of people also want answered, for the answers are the hope for humanity's future as we enter a new millennium. How are we to find our lost souls? How can we rediscover the sacred from which we have been separated for thousands of years? How can we live free of fear and filled with divine love and compassion? How can we find and fulfill our magical destinies? How can we restore and protect this Eden, which is our fragile planet?
The answers were not found in the domain of make-believe, but in the place one might least expect to find them--in the hidden world of real Witches. But contrary to the cliches in fairy tales and Hollywood films, Witchcraft is not a subculture of satanic rites enacted by wacky spinsters or mad demonologists. It is an ancient, elegant spirituality that revives the magic of being alive--the kind of magic we have always longed for, but sadly assumed only came true in storybooks.
Wicca, as Witchcraft is most often referred to by contemporary practitioners, is the renaissance of a pre-Hebraic, pre-Christian, and pre-Islamic Goddess spirituality. The word Witch actually comes from the old Anglo-Saxon word wicce, meaning "wise one," a seer, a priestess, or shaman who is able to work with unseen, divine forces. Witches were the singers of sacred songs, the midwives and healers, guides and teachers of the Goddess's spiritual wisdom. Like Native Americans, Taoists, Australian Aborigines, the Yoruban tribes in Africa, Eskimos, Hawaiians, Lapps, and other indigenous peoples, the people of old Europe and the Fertile Crescent lived close to the earth and respected their relationship with nature as sacred, for they experienced their world as the embodiment of the divine.
The shamanic practices of the Old Religion enabled women and men to attune their psyches and their daily lives to the cycles of nature and the mystical wisdom found in the earth's profound rhythms. A spirituality of divine empowerment, the holy magic practiced by Witches, shamans, priestesses, and mystics celebrated an enlightened connection to the earth...
We are entering a new era, an age of the Divine Feminine, when the illumined power of women and men will bring new life to a dying world. It is a time of critical change that depends upon our spiritual awakening, a collective epiphany, a summoning of the sacred into our lives. Now is the time for the Goddess's return, for the return of our lost souls. For the return of life to a world laid waste by spiritual and environmental crises. Through the re-empowerment of the feminine principle, our world can become a holy vessel of connectedness, grace, and joy for all. With Her return, we will rediscover the Paradise which dwells within and which encircles us on this sacred, beloved planet.