Book of Shadows and Light, by Lucy Cavendish
Llewellyn Publications, 9780738756226, 268 pp., 2017
As a child the only place I was allowed to go to after school was the library. It was there that I found a series of books on the unknown and magick that eventually led me to the world of witchcraft. My journey extended beyond the library and into the one or two occult bookshops in the city. Back then, these were the only places you could find guidance in Wicca. Nowadays, everything occult is at your fingertips via an internet search or a stroll through a regular bookstore. But while time has technically advanced and popularized what was once hidden, a modern day Wiccan practitioner prefers creating their individual spell books and collecting actual books for their personal collections. Lucy Cavendish’s Book of Shadows and Light is an illustrated journal that provides a private space, as well as guidance for a novice in the world of magick.
The book opens up off with a note, “You, yes you — you bright, brave, soul…” and a photo of a woman (I believe it’s Cavendish by the silhouette), welcoming the sun. It is a warm greeting, like a hug, and it sets a tone that permeates the rest of its pages. There are detailed explanations of the lunar phases, solstices, and a mini glossary that creates a foundation for the magical practitioner. These are informative insights that anyone could find in a witches’ how-to, but Cavendish personalizes the text by addressing her writing with awe and reverence for the craft. Symbolic filigree frame the pages that are to be filled by the owner with observations and spells — these pages also contain inspirational quotes by Cavendish, as daily encouragements and focus for the reader.
Book of Shadows and Light is beautiful. It has a purple and black cover (wisdom and grounding colours) that fold in, thereby creating spaces for keepsakes. There are gorgeous illustrations and sections of the book which act like meditative breaks. Since there are no instructions on what to do with the blank spaces provided, the owner is free to creatively express themselves however they wish. The last pages contain basic spells curated by Cavendish to align with the spirit of the book as a formative self-created textbook for a witch’s work.
I wish I had a notebook like Lucy Cavendish’s Book of Shadows and Light when I first got into collecting spells and journalling. I can see myself personalizing it with doodles, thoughts, and drawings. You can use it for almost any sort of intuitive or meditative writing, even though the pentagram on the cover suggests its official use. However, if you are of a sorcery mindset and looking to confidentially store spiritual musings and charms, this book could be a nice addition or foundation for your collection.
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