By Judy Ann Nock
Adams Media/Provenance Press 2005
246 pp., $12.95
According to the web site www.religioustolerance.org, â€œthe fastest growing religion (in terms of percentage) is Wicca â€“ a Neopagan religion that is sometimes referred to as Witchcraft. Numbers of adherents went from 8,000 to 1990 to 134,000 in 2001. Their numbers of adherents are doubling about 30 months.â€ The author of A Witchâ€™s Grimoire, Judy Ann Nock, is a Wiccan high priestess who shares her extensive knowledge and experience in this pagan primer â€“ a sort of witchcraft 101.
However, we first have the question of â€œwhat exactly is a grimoire?â€ Nock describes a grimoire (or book of shadows) as â€œa sort of Wiccan recipe book that includes spells and incantations, but also much more. A book of shadows may also contain dreams, poems, invocations, revelations, inspirations, and lore.â€ In some ways, it is also a journal where one can record impressions as they follow the pagan path, a nature-based religion.
If one is new to the Craft, he or she can use A Witchâ€™s Grimoire as a workbook â€“ there are plenty of exercises suggested, with room in the book to write individual answers to the thought-provoking questions that are presented here. For example, calling the directions is a basic skill in the Craft. Nock gives plentiful information about the unique attributes of the east, south, west and north and urges the reader to acquire experiential knowledge and not just book-knowledge.
More advanced teachings, such as channeling and various meditations, are also shared in what is evidently a sincere, from-the-heart book in which Nock clearly wants the reader to grow spirituality as a result of carrying out the exercises. This text is also jam-packed with new age knowledge, including touching upon the chakras, magical qualities of gemstones and crystals, the ritual use of herbs, and even dream interpretation. For those wanting information on more crafty things like spellwork and candles, itâ€™s all there as well â€“ a full table of color correspondences for candlework along with what days of the week are most conducive to specific needs.
Now back to that â€œcreate your own book of shadowsâ€ part of the titleâ€¦Nock takes that quite literally and gives detailed instructions to making your own recycled paper and binding your own special book! However, the author also takes into account that even a three ring binder purchased at a stationary store will be sufficient as long as the magical intent is there. Nock also provides various secret alphabets such as the Faerie Runes for those to help create a more mystical-appearing book of shadows. And speaking of physical appearances, Nockâ€™s book itself is just gorgeous â€“ ragged-edged pages are wedged between an antiqued cover, suggesting this is a tome filled with ancient knowledge which, in this reviewerâ€™s opinion, is indeed the case.
Review by Diane Saarinen