Book of Shadows [NOOK Book]


Since Phyllis Currot first published Book of Shadows, the story of her spiritual journey and initiation as a High Priestess in the Wiccan community, Witchcraft has captured America's imagination as a theme for fiction, television shows, and films. Now America's highest-profile Witch returns to dispel more myths and misrepresentations of her faith, and to share a practical guide to the beautiful spiritual rituals and philosophies behind Wiccan tradition.

Rich with enchanting ...

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Book of Shadows

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Since Phyllis Currot first published Book of Shadows, the story of her spiritual journey and initiation as a High Priestess in the Wiccan community, Witchcraft has captured America's imagination as a theme for fiction, television shows, and films. Now America's highest-profile Witch returns to dispel more myths and misrepresentations of her faith, and to share a practical guide to the beautiful spiritual rituals and philosophies behind Wiccan tradition.

Rich with enchanting stories from Currot's own experiences and detailed advice for creating potions, working with Nature, and finding the Divine within, Witch Crafting is much more than just another superficial recipe book. Curott's unique guidebook integrates the inspiration of religious wisdom with sound, practical information. Witch Crafting reveals how to: incorporate Wiccan practices into your daily life; master the secret arts of effective spell casting; create sacred space and personal rituals; perform divinations for insight and success; and tap the magical power of altered states, such as dreaming meditation, prayer, and trance.

Perfect for beginners or seasoned practitioners, Witch Crafting is the ideal handbook for anyone seeking to unlock the divine power that makes real magic happen, and to experience the power and gifts of the universe more fully.

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Editorial Reviews

Lisa Carver

In Book of Shadows, Phyllis Curott takes us along on her double journey -- she's rising in the music business, doing legal work in New York for huge stars she doesn't name, while simultaneously going down into the underworld of dreams and witchcraft and yellowed books about Egyptian goddesses. Neither world, she discovers, is what it appears. But when she starts talking about the scent of apple blossoms filling the air, or about bonding with good, strong female mentors with names like "Nonna," or about facing her inner shadow, your mind may wander off as you try to figure out who the unnamed stars are.

Curott and her fellow witches use the word "sacred" so often that it feels like Chinese water torture, and they frequently proclaim their outrage over the persecution witches faced 500 years ago (as if they were the only religious group whose members got killed and called names). Curott never comes out and says that men are evil, and two or three of the peripheral male characters seem kind enough, but it's implied that most men throughout history got their power by stealing it from women. Like on Lifetime, the TV channel for women, almost all the females in Book of Shadows have been sexually assaulted or stalked. They sob a lot and comfort each other. They join hands in a circle; they learn to accept their bodies. They each take one bite of an apple, which represents forbidden knowledge, and say things like, "I honor the nourishment and the strength the Goddess has given me -- she sustains me with the fruits of life." After they've all bitten into it, they linger in the circle for hours, and Curott asks Nonna, "May I take the remnants of the apple?" Nonna "wrapped them carefully in a napkin and hugged her." Way too much yin.

If only the author had a sense of humor, Book of Shadows wouldn't be so unbearable. (Curott claims several times that she does have a sense of humor -- a dead giveaway that one is terribly, terribly unfunny. You learn that from personal ads.) It's not that I'm uninterested in magic or the true nature of chaos. It's that I get uncomfortable when Curott marks a pink candle with her name, the astrological symbol for Venus and the word "love." Her life grows steadily more gentle and steadily more scented. Her research is scented, too, even though her publishers have made a big deal out of the fact that she's a Harvard grad. For instance, she claims that in the "patriarchal religions" -- Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- "the father God [is] transcendent and removed," while in witchcraft "the mother Goddess [is] immanent and present in the world." She's largely right. But there have always been mystical strains within those Big Three where God was so "immanent" some people actually died from being overfilled with glory. I could go on about this -- and so could Curott, who's now the president of the world's largest Wiccan organization.

One thing you have to hand to her: This good-looking, high-powered Manhattan lawyer re-created her life. When she didn't find a path that suited her, she paved her own. That it looks corny to people like me means, in the long run, absolutely nothing. -- Salon

Library Journal
Over time, "book of shadows" has come to refer to a witch's journal, a diary of spells, chants, and rituals. Here Curott, a high priestess of the New York City-based Circle of Ara & the Minoan fellowship and a practicing lawyer, uses 13 chapters to tell the story of her personal encounter with the ways of the Goddess, with insight into the contemporary practice of witchcraft, or Wicca. The helpful appendix includes a table outlining the goddesses, gods, animals, and zodiacal signs connected with Wicca; spells, charms, and magical potions; special events of the Wicca year, with a resources section; and a list of books that provide further insight into Goddess and Wiccan practice, witchcraft, and white magic. Libraries seeking current material dealing with modern witchcraft will find this a helpful addition. Though no footnotes support any of the characterizations or opinions offered, the personal story will appeal to some readers.--Leroy Hommerding, Citrus Cty. Lib. System, Inverness, FL
Deepak Chopra
A modern-day Persephone myth full of magic and mystery, Book of Shadows transcends the bounds of its genre.
Kirkus Reviews
An engaging memoir of magic and self-discovery, by Wicca high priestess and entertainment attorney Curott. Curott has lectured nationally on the renaissance of witchcraft in America, and here she offers a treatment of magic's role in her own spiritual journey and professional life. Curott wisely uses the genre of autobiography to introduce readers to witchcraft gradually, as she herself was introduced to it. She first describes her visions of an Isis-like figure in her final year of law school, and her sudden development of extrasensory talents. A bit later, she met a self-described witch and through this friendship began attending her first "circle" meetings, which sound a lot more like a feminist consciousness-raising group than a coven. Which is precisely Curott's point: the book's chief function is to dispel Christian-based stereotypes about witches, who don't worship Satan (he's not a figure in pre-Christian traditions) or cast spells on people (Curott insists that witches seek to establish harmony in the world, not to be masters of others or of nature). But in her well-intentioned efforts to rehabilitate witchcraft, she occasionally succumbs to perpetuating rather ridiculous inaccuracies about its detractors (as when she repeats the claim that the Catholic Church was responsible for the Black Plague because it had killed off all the cats, thinking they might be witches' familiars). And at times her rhetorical devices are not too subtle—she gives her lecherous boss the pseudonym Hades, symbolically casting herself as the ensnared Persephone, who must utilize female magic to escape from his underworld. However, Curott also presents some fine insights into the rolewitchcraft plays in the complex milieu of American religion, including her observation that Wicca is appealing because it does not demand exclusive devotion (one enchantress calls herself "an Episcopagan"). Though jagged, Curott's book stands as a unique first-person account of more than 20 years as a practitioner of Wicca.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307832276
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/3/2013
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 317,359
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Wiccan high priestess PHYLLIS CUROTT is an attorney and author of Book of Shadows (Broadway Books, 1998). Currot was named one of the 10 gutsiest Women of the Year 1999 by Jane Magazine. She has been profiled widely in the media, lectures frequently, and is widely respected for her work promoting civil rights and religious freedom. She lives in New York City.
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Read an Excerpt

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.

Over the past two decades, as a High Priestess and a teacher of the Old  Religion, I have found when I mention the word Witch, it often  brings to people's minds images of hurly-burly hags casting spells,  licentious young women consorting with the devil, and wizards commanding  supernatural demons to appear. On the lighter side, they might think of  glamorous Veronica Lake in I Married a Witch, sexy Kim Novak in  Bell, Book and Candle, or the adorable TV Witches in Bewitched  and  Sabrina lending some desperately needed excitement, as  well as some unexpected morality, to the American suburbs. Or perhaps they  will remember, with a child's delight, The Wizard of Oz and Glinda,  the Good Witch of the North, who tells young Dorothy the power to find her  happiness, and her way home, has been with her all along. This last image  comes closest to capturing the real and unknown truth about  Witchcraft.

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 clichÚs 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.

Their sacred truths have been passed down by magical orders and within  families, who carefully preserved the religion of the great Goddess. Those  who practiced the old ways--in southern Italy, in the small towns of the  British Isles, and, several centuries later, in rural parts of West  Virginia and New England--were forced to do so secretly, having been  driven underground nearly five hundred years ago, when accusations of  Satanism first arose. From these accusations came the "Witchcraze," the  Church's crusade to suppress the  Old Religion of the Goddess and  establish religious hegemony in Europe.  Hundreds of thousands were killed  in an unholy campaign, most of whom were women, who suffered great losses  in economic and social power. But this was not the only wound to Western  culture. The ancient knowledge of the village wise woman, and man, was  nearly lost, as the sacred rites that maintained the connection between  people, the earth, and the divine were rent asunder.

Hundreds of years after the Witchcraze, the archetype of the horrific hag  continues to hold tremendous power as a repository for modern culture's  fear of women, sexuality, and individual freedom. The repulsive crone has  become our guardian at the gate, challenging our readiness to enter a  world of ecstasy and enchantment. Those with courage, curiosity,  compassion, and a taste for adventure may confront her, and when they do,  behind the mask of the wicked Witch, they will find the beatific face of  the Great Goddess.

As a young woman at the start of my career, I began studying with  priestesses of the Goddess. They introduced me to the timeless arts of  spiritual transformation, imparting tools and techniques that anyone can  use to experience the divine within themselves and in the world around  them. I entered a realm of magic that was as ancient as the history of  humanity, and as modern as the theories of quantum physics. And their ways  enabled me to see the world as vibrantly, divinely alive, rich with wisdom  and beauty.

Since I first began practicing the secret arts of the sacred earth,  Goddess spirituality has emerged from the shadows of misunderstanding as  the fastest growing spiritual practice in the United States. I have  addressed the public, the media, the legal system, Church congregations,  the Parliament of the World's Religions, and United Nations conferences. I  have taught the wisdom of the Great Goddess. I have found a beacon of  truth, a torch that I offer for your journey into the future, into realms  of wonder, magic, and divinity.

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.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2004

    A book that reminds you why you chose Wicca and witchcraft

    I found this book while browsing through the New Age section; at the time, I was having some problems with my belief in Wicca. I bought it on a whim and began reading. This book, once I finished reading it, changed my thoughts on both religion and life in general. It makes you start seeing the intricacies of how our lives work, and it definitely makes you trust your instincts. Regardless of how corny other reviewers may find the story and its precepts, this really is a very accurate account of how a normal person might encounter the Divine Goddess - by pure chance. The best part is, Curott even relays during what times in her journey she faced self-doubt and fear about witchcraft. I love it. Whenever I feel like I'm being attacked for my beliefs, or whenever I feel as though I can't handle something, I start reading that book and it makes me feel closer to my religious community and to the Divine elements in my life. An excellent story that lends hope and courage to its readers regardless of gender - a lot of men, if reading with an open mind, could very well find enlightenment in this book just as easily as I did. If I had more hands, I'd give it more than just two thumbs up - but two thumbs will have to do for now. ^_^

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Strong spirituality, but this book still does not work on many levels.

    I came to this book after seven years of practicing in the craft. I saw the book sitting on the library shelf during those nervous first few months of study, but felt I needed some more accessible how-to books. Today, it stands as a refreshing format in a market dominated by how-to books. However, I am glad I read it now when I have some perspective of my own to draw off of.

    I will say this book offers a very poignant look into the world of Earth-based spirituality. I recognized some hard-learned lessons along my own path reflected in this book. Curott does an excellent job of conveying the heart of Wicca: the ever-present energies in the Earth and ourselves that unite and bind us all. It is up to us to use those energies towards positive ends. There were some excellent rituals and spells that would serve any Wiccan/witch/pagan well.

    However, these positives are tinged with plenty of garbage stereotypes about the faith and life of a witch. The magic is expressed as being a more participation focused form of prayer, which is it is, but some of her magical workings seem overstated for the sake of excitement and shock value. During a banishing ritual, she actually sees a dark shadow hovering by the door. She sees light shoot from her hands during spells and books float out of shelves to land in front of her when she needs answers. If you come to the path looking for these things to actually happen, you will be sorely disappointed. These overstatements only serve to confuse new spiritual seekers. I hope this was added by editors looking for zest and not something a self-respecting Wiccan would put in text.

    The book is also diminished by the over-the-top feminism. I understand that she is coming from the point of view of a single woman trying to make it in a man's legal world in the 1970's or thereabout. I get that she personally needed to get in touch with her feminine side on a spiritual level. Sometimes we all need that, even men. But Curott makes the assumption that Wicca is a goddess cult practiced in secret during Christian times and dates back to an ancient era of flowers and love. Back in the day, when all was sunshine and roses because societies were more matriarchal, everyone worshiped the Great Goddess, according to this book. Curott goes on to assert that all the world's problems could be solved if the world would just get back to nature and embrace their feminine side. It's not that simple. Women are capable of evil, just as men are. Power corrupts anyone.

    In reality, Wicca is a modern faith pieced together by Gerald Gardner in 1950's England. The idea of a beautiful goddess cult surviving through the ages and coming to us in the form of Wicca has been historically debunked time and time again. Wicca is what it is today because of MEN as well as women. Wicca is about balance in all things, including the feminine and masculine. While this was an interesting look inside a Dianic Wiccan coven (the type of tradition she follows, though she never outright states this for some reason), and indeed a fascinating example of coven life as a whole, the blatant bitterness didn't sit well with me.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2003


    If you are a solitary practitioner or just interested in learning more about Wicca or witchcraft, this is an excellent book to read. Written very well as a literary work, besides being a great source of information.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2001

    A Wonderful and Wise Account of Meeting Magic

    Ms.Curott, using an autobiographical format, manages to elucidate the inner workings of Witchcraft and entertain the reader with beauty and suspense. There's no other book on the subject as mature and as genuinely informative of the real substance beneath the surface. Well done!! Highly recommended to anyone at any level.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2002


    what a wonderful book, I couldnt put it down, read it in two days, a highly recommended read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2001

    What a compelling read.

    I have read memoirs in the past and have always enjoyed them. This book surprised me however with its suspense. An amazing life story of discovery and acceptance that should be read by those who believe in magic and for those who don't.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2000

    A Must Read!!

    Even though I've been studying Wicca for the past 8 years I believe I haven't read a book as informative and enjoyable as this. The author gives her detailed account of her transcendance from skeptic to believer in what her heart and dreams have been telling her all along. She gives information throughout the book, but gives it in such a way that I do not have to read it several times to try to figure out what she's trying to say. I've enjoyed the book immensely and recommend it as both an informative and pleasure read for those interested in Wicca or who just want to know some about it and how a person, who did not grow up in the faith, found her path in Wicca.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2000

    This book showed me how interesting witchcraft can be!

    That book inspired me to do witchcraft and now I have one book of spells and I'm hoping to buy this book to keep my collection going instead of having to call my friend and asking her to tell me about it. I may be 10 years old but I still like this book and any other book thats based on witchcraft!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2000

    The most inspirational book I've ever read

    This book has really inspired me to become even more involved with the Craft and with nature in general than I am right now. All the details in this book really created wondrous images and sensations for me. It was so mind-blowing that the moment I opened it I felt compelled to read it every day, every moment I had free. Every time I closed the book I looked forward to my next opportunity to open it and read even further. I was disappointed when I was done reading it because I wished the story would continue; I was hungry to read even more. There is so much information as well as plenty of resources added at the back of this book. I feel this book is a true inspiration for any Witch who is looking for their way in this world. If you don't already have this book, get it, read it, really experience it for yourself and you'll see what I mean.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 23, 2012

    This is a spiritual adventure akin to Eat, Pray, Love, except th

    This is a spiritual adventure akin to Eat, Pray, Love, except that the journey happens without leaving home in New York city, and it involves a whole gaggle of wonder-filled women. There's lots to love about the tale--the enthusiasm of youth, the thrill of spiritual discovery, the growing confidence in self-mastery. This is religion by women, for women. It's beautiful, creative, and brave. The only problem for me was that the spiritual practices seem to produce dramatic results rather too immediately. Surely, I pondered, it takes more practice than that. Even so, I don't want to complain when somebody gives a powerful call to home-grown spiritual adventure like this.

    --author of A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2000


    This book is the best i love wicca,and learning about it,i love doing spells this book is the best me and my friends all do spells we call the corners and every thing this book told it all i highly think you should buy this wonderful book of wicca.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2000


    Book of Shadows is an extremely well written and interesting book of a women's journey into Wicca and how she changed. I would recommend this book for anyone into Wicca and the Goddess!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2000

    light of wisdom

    this taght me every thing i know. it changed my life. witch craft is what i want to do and this has helped me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2000

    Great Book

    This book is wonderful!! I would highly recomend it!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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