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Book Review: The Wiccan Book of Shadows by Ambrosia Hawthorn

About the Author

Ambrosia Hawthorn is a traveling eclectic pagan, astrologer, and card slinger with indigenous roots in Yup’ik shamanism and Puerto Rican folk magic. She is the founder of Wild Goddess Magick, a witchcraft blog, and the editor of Witchology Magazine. She discovered her practice at the age of 13, and has been studying the craft and her lineage ever since. Ambrosia’s goal is to provide material for every kind of pagan, and she uses the Wheel of the Year to create and share new content about all types of magic,

About The Wiccan Book of Shadows

Equal parts informative and interactive, The Wiccan Book of Shadows is a straightforward and inviting guide to crafting your own magical practice, rooted in the tradition of Wicca. Many of us in the witching world have heard some variation of the phrase “not every Witch is Wiccan,” and depending upon the materials you’ve encountered on the subject of Wicca, you may have found yourself shying away from it in favor of a “less structured” path. However, in The Wiccan Book of Shadows, Hawthorn is extremely intentional to highlight the ways in which you can make the practice very much your own, and you may be surprised to learn just how room there is to forge a Wiccan path that is unique to you, and you alone. 

“Wicca is very diverse and inviting to those who seek a path centered around nature and the divine…there are many decisions you get to make as a Wiccan regarding the laws, beliefs, and traditions you engage with and honor.”

The Wiccan Book of Shadows

While The Wiccan Book of Shadows does contain plenty of space for journaling, reflection, and the creation of your own spells and rituals, it also contains helpful background, context, and historical information that has helped to shape the modern landscape of Wicca. Part One takes you through Wiccan beliefs and traditions, as well as provides correspondences for planets, deities, and elements. Part Two opens the door to get a bit more hands-on, with discussion around tools and symbols of the practice, in addition to a high-level overview of essential activities like grounding, centering, and circle-casting. Hawthorn shares a number of her own spells and rituals, alongside template pages to help you craft your own, using ingredients and materials that hold special significance to you as a magickal practitioner.

New Witches will Love…

…the easy-to-understand and comprehensive overview of the basics of Wicca. Of course, if you’re brand-new to the practice, or simply want to take a deeper dive into the subject, Hawthorn’s Seasons of Wicca can serve as a wonderful companion to this guide, but The Wiccan Book of Shadows stands firmly on its own as a gateway into the more formalized tradition of Wicca. Newer witches will also appreciate the individualized approach that Hawthorn takes, reminding readers throughout the book that there is no “one size fits all” approach to the material presented. Your practice is your own, and The Wiccan Book of Shadows lights the way for you to forge your own unique path, one that feels authentic to you.

Experienced Witches will Love…

… the prompts embedded throughout the text, designed to get you thinking about your practice beyond the surface level. Invitations to reflect on what initially called you to Wicca, how your relationship with it has evolved over time, what inspires your traditions, and the principles that resonate with you (to name just a few) provide an opportunity to revisit the very foundations of your practice – something that can provide refreshing perspective if it has been some time since you’ve reflected upon such topics, or if you feel that your practice has become a bit routine. Revisiting those basic “building blocks” of your practice can be an unexpected source of insight and inspiration, no matter how long you have walked your own witchy path!

This review appeared on the Witch With Me blog in December 2020.

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