Building a Book of Shadows as a Broke College Student
Article ID: 15022
Age Group: Adult
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Posted: September 9th. 2012
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Given how much I’ve rambled about being Pagan as a “broke college student” (by the time most of you read this, I’ll probably be a broke college graduate) , I’m a little surprised I haven’t gotten to this topic sooner. Really, it probably should’ve come right after the “Building a Wiccan Library” essay that was my first essay published on the Witches’ Voice. Still, most of the topics I write about tend to relate more to what’s going on in my life at that point in time, and my book of shadows… It’s coming along, but it’s nowhere near where I’d like it to be. Still, I have the beginnings of one, and that, for me, is more than enough reason to write this.
So, buckle up, broke college students and all those interested everywhere! Here we go!
Probably one of the most important tools a Wiccan has is his or her book of shadows. I mean, let’s think about it. Before Pagans (Witches included) began to write things down for future generations, everything was taught through the oral tradition. Now, I see nothing wrong with the oral tradition; in fact, I love and respect it. But there are some times when just passing things down through the generations by word of mouth alone is not enough. For many of our ancestors, this became their reality, and they began to write books of shadows to keep the traditions safe for us. Unfortunately, not everything about the Old Religions has survived to this day, and there are some times where we can only guess what our ancestors would have used/done/ etc. Still, we can’t deny the enormous value of our books today, particularly our books of shadows.
For us today, the book of shadows is still a very important tool. It holds all of our knowledge, from the aspects of the God and Goddess to how to cast a circle, from the Sabbats to information on herbs, plants and flowers. Each one is unique to the individual Witch/Wiccan/Pagan (however you prefer to identify yourself) , crafted and written with love and magick. Each tradition might have multiple, perhaps one for the circle or coven, one for the family, one special to the high priest or priestess of the coven, and one made just for you. No one can’t deny that the book of shadows has taken on a culture all its own.
However, there is a good portion of us that don’t really have a book of shadows yet. Most if not all of us probably want one, but for some reason (doesn’t matter what it is) it’s just not feasible yet. Maybe you don’t have the funds towards a physical book of shadows, or maybe there’s people who might find it that you’d rather not have see.
I’m no exception, really. Most of you know that I only came out of the broom closet to my parents (who took it much better than I expected) just within the last year, and much of my family still doesn’t know (I think some, like my Grammy, might be close to figuring it out, but it hasn’t come up) . Even if I did just keep my book of shadows at home—well, for those of you who read “Building a Wiccan Library as a Broke College Student, ” you know my dad’s views on magick (and magic as found in the fantasy genre) . I’d most definitely be keeping spells in there, and if he found them, he’d probably give me a strict lecture at best or take me in for counseling at worst (he accepts the religious aspects of Wicca, but he’s convinced any form of magick/magic doesn’t exist) .
Okay, I’m restricting the doom and gloom to the previous two paragraphs. There are solutions out there that many college students (and those older and younger) can definitely make use of. And, if you’re reading the Witches’ Voice right now, you probably have a good idea of what I’m about to say.
Yup. Good old computers.
I don’t think I know many (if any) college students who don’t own a laptop or have access to computers. I mean, we live in an age where computers reign supreme, and, if you don’t have one or have access to one, you just don’t know what’s going on or what’s out there. Even those who haven’t considered college yet have access to a computer or tablet (my little cousin just got an iPad 3 for his birthday yesterday) , and I doubt any adult in the working world doesn’t own a computer of some kind. Even many of our elder generations are working with technology, and some have become quite proficient with it. Getting back to college students, your laptop is something that you can easily work with and keep safe, as I don’t know of anyone who has friends or parents search through their personal files on their laptops (for those of you who’ve had this happen, you have my sympathy—and I’ve got a solution for you in a minute) . And even if all you have is an Internet browser and a word processor, that’s enough to get started.
Why do I say that, though? What can you do with just an Internet browser and a word processor? Plenty. With the Internet, you have access to a growing plethora (fun word, plethora) of information about Wicca, Paganism and many other spiritual topics. You can likely find most of the books you want to look at in some form or another. For example, many of you who read “Building a Wiccan Library” sent me numerous websites where I could download older books legally and free of charge (thank you, thank you, thank you!) . And, in the exact same essay, I mentioned Google Books, my literary savior on many an occasion. They have so many Pagan books available in an online preview format and available for purchase as e-books. And you have access to the Witches’ Voice (obviously, else you wouldn’t be reading this) , which is filled with wonderful essays from Pagans young and old, from a variety backgrounds and traditions.
With the word processor, you can begin building your own book of shadows the way you want it. Those of you who’ve submitted essays in the past know Wren and the other administrators prefer that you save your work in a word processor file to avoid losing it – a good piece of advice, and not just because the submission form can time out. These essays that you write can even be the start of your book of shadows!! I mean, why not? They deal with Paganism-related topics, are often wonderful to read and deal with issues that relate specifically to you. In other words, they’re perfect for a book of shadows. Heck, I renamed the folder where I keep my essay files from “Creative Essays” to “Book of Shadows, ” and it just keeps growing by the day. If you have a word processor, you can even start a journal that you can definitely incorporate into your book of shadows. It can be one file that you update constantly or a ton of small files, one for each entry. With a word processor, the possibilities are limitless!
Now, what about those of you who either don’t own a computer or have to deal with people looking through your files? Fear not. I have a solution, one from personal experience. I’m talking about the humble flash drive (jump drive, zip drive, USB drive—well, however you want to call it, but I’ll refer to it as a flash drive) . The flash drive is an easy way to store many if not all of your files that will make up your library or book of shadows without needing a computer. Most of them these days are fairly cheap, and they can store large amounts of data (many of the cheapest store up to one gigabyte or more) . Best of all, no one can look at the files unless they plug it into a computer, and they’re small and easy to hide. When my parents got me my second laptop, back before I came out of the broom closet to them, I was worried about them finding my PDFs and all of my Wicca materials on my laptop and hard drive. So what did I do? I moved everything to an eight GB flash drive, deleted the files from my laptop, and backed it up again as it was. All of my stuff was safe, and I transferred all of it to my new laptop later once it was ready.
So, for those of you who are still waiting to make your book of shadows, what are you waiting for? There are plenty of options readily available to you, free at best and slightly cheap at worst (not counting the expense of a computer) . Honestly, unless you have a situation that I haven’t listed here, I don’t see too much reason for you not to get started. And I’m applying this to myself as well. With all of the options out there, it’s a wonder to me that I didn’t get started soon. Plus, once you’re ready, you can print out or copy from everything you have for the physical book of shadows you’ve always dreamed of, no matter how you choose to make it.
To all of you working hard on your book of shadows, I wish you the best of luck and a heartfelt Blessed Be!!
"Building a Wiccan Library as a Broke College Student" by Luna
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