Book of Shadows: A Modern Woman's Journey into the Wisdom and Magic of Witchcraft

( 1 )

Overview

When high-powered Manhattan lawyer Phyllis Curott began exploring Witchcraft, she discovered a spiritual movement that defied all stereotypes. Encountering neither satanic rites nor eccentric spinsters, she came to know a clandestine religion of the Goddess that had been forced into hiding over the course of history. Book of Shadows recounts Curott's remarkable initiation into Wicca (meaning "wise one") and shares her insights as a high priestess of an elegant, ancient spirituality that celebrates the magic of ...
See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (59) from $1.99   
  • New (4) from $9.95   
  • Used (55) from $1.99   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$9.95
Seller since 2005

Feedback rating:

(51)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

New
1998 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Brand new hardcover, First Edition stated, in brand new dustjacket, no remainder mark, packaged carefully and shipped promptly(s12-14) ... Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 320 p. Audience: General/trade. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Deerfield, NH

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$18.56
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(46)

Condition: New
Hardcover New 0767900545 FAST shipping. New Unread Book. (Thank you for shopping from us. Order inquiries handled promptly. )

Ships from: FORT LAUDERDALE, FL

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$30.76
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(273)

Condition: New
Brand New Item.

Ships from: Chatham, NJ

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$50.00
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(162)

Condition: New
Brand new.

Ships from: acton, MA

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Sending request ...

Overview

When high-powered Manhattan lawyer Phyllis Curott began exploring Witchcraft, she discovered a spiritual movement that defied all stereotypes. Encountering neither satanic rites nor eccentric spinsters, she came to know a clandestine religion of the Goddess that had been forced into hiding over the course of history. Book of Shadows recounts Curott's remarkable initiation into Wicca (meaning "wise one") and shares her insights as a high priestess of an elegant, ancient spirituality that celebrates the magic of being alive." "An Ivy-league graduate and promising lawyer, Curott was a typical young woman in her twenties, determined to forge a law career within the burgeoning, male-dominated music industry. But when she began having prophetic dreams and mysterious visions of ancient female figures and unfamiliar symbols, she discovered an unexpected world of magic and began searching for a rational explanation." "Her Book of Shadows chronicles her ascent to the position of Wiccan High Priestess and her efforts to reconcile her newfound spirituality with her struggles as a woman rising through the ranks of the corporate world. Along the way, Curott relates the history of Witchcraft and shares many traditional Wiccan practices, such as casting a circle, drawing down the Goddess, harnessing the powers of the natural world, and casting spells for health, prosperity, and love.
Read More Show Less

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.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767900546
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/6/1998
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 302
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 1.19 (d)

Meet the Author

High Priestess Phyllis Curott is president emerita of the oldest and largest international religious organization in the Wiccan tradition and has been widely profiled in the media as a public figure and advocate for Wiccan Spirituality.  A graduate of Brown University, she holds a law degree from the New York University School of Law and is a practicing attorney.  She divides her time between New York City and Long Island.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


The Dark Side of the Moon


* * *


If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream,
and have a flower presented to him as a pledge
that his soul had really been there,
and if he found that flower in his hand when he awoke
--Ay! and what then?

--Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Anima Poetae


In dreams begins responsibility.

--William Butler Yeats, Responsibilities


Moonlight filters in through the city skylight. The air is fragrant with the scent of flowers and the smoke of burning incense. Candles flicker and glow, bathing our bodies in golden light. Holding hands, we begin a quiet chant: "Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hecate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna...." Singing the names of ancient goddesses, our voices blend and rise, our bodies sway and dance, faster and faster we circle.

    The room around us blurs, the earth slips away beneath our feet and we are spinning together, weaving a wild and timeless web of energy. Suddenly the circle stops. Our arms fly upward, the power we have raised shoots from our fingertips into the night sky above. A shout explodes from our lips, then disappears into the thinnest whisper of breath.

    I inhale slowly, feeling the energy rushing through me. I have never felt so alive. I look around the circle of women who stand with me--their eyes full of fire, skin flushed and glowing, their hair dancing about their radiant faces. "Thou art Goddess," the woman next to me says. "Thou art Goddess," I reply and turn to send the blessing around our circle.

    Our magic is done.


I awoke that Monday morning to the perfume of roses filling my room, a silver mantle of moonlight draped across my bed. I reached for the pen and notebook on my nightstand. The images were already disappearing as the words appeared on the page. I sat, head in hands, grasping for wisps of my evaporating dream. Isis! There it was again--the name had been floating in and out of my sleeping and waking consciousness for weeks, weaving a spell of strange anticipation. I knew only that Isis was an ancient Egyptian goddess, but her name reverberated inside of me, as if it were a magic word that could unlock the doors of paradise.

    Outside, a siren shattered the sleepy morning. I threw off the covers and went to my window. Across the street, an ambulance and a police car pulled to the curb, their red lights flashing. A small crowd gathered on the sidewalk below, drawn by the magnetism of calamity, or the fear that it could be someone they knew. Though it was early, New York never fully slept and I could see those who'd been up all night, or who had reason to rise before dawn--Mr. Rocco on the way to his bakery around the corner on Bleecker Street; Mr. Tomanello coming home from the late shift; and the old women, in their black dresses, clustered like crows portending a final journey.

    A feeling of sadness pressed in upon me as I pictured a man, perhaps in his late sixties, or just prematurely aged by a hard life of too many disappointments, a weekend's worth of grizzle still on his chin, an old T-shirt stretched across his belly. His wife stood in their bedroom doorway wearing a robe covered with vivid roses. She shook with grief as two young men in white uniforms settled a clear plastic mask over her husband's face. A name flashed in my mind: Paul Berzini. As a student, I lived on the periphery of this community, but two weeks ago, my neighbor Renata had told me that Berzini's wife was afraid he was going to lose his job as an insurance salesman. He'd worked thirty years for the company, and was too old to be hired by another. The recession of the seventies was still taking its toll.

    Somehow I knew what I had imagined was real. Staring at the old apartment building, a wave of fear overwhelmed me. It was too much pain and I pushed it away, raising my eyes westward, toward a river I could not see. Scanning a black asphalt landscape, I looked for the few rooftop gardens that grew red tomatoes, yellow sunflowers, and hope, until the sense of panic faded. A vivid blur of blue landed on my fire escape--the blue jay that visited every morning, screeching exuberantly for crusts of bread.

    I checked the clock and realized I had only twenty minutes to get to class. I rushed through my shower, threw on my clothes, and raced down the stairs, almost crashing into Renata on the front stoop.

    "Don't run like that, you'll live longer," Mrs. Tomanello chided me. She was a tough old bird, dressed in her perennial widow's garb. Her husband had been a stonemason, and she lived in my building, in the same apartment her husband had grown up in.

    "So, Mikey's one of the cops, he told Tony it's Pauli Berzini--a heart attack. Poor Maria, what's she gonna do? Two sons dead in the war and now this?" Renata crossed herself, a gesture quickly copied by the small gathering of women who turned, as I did, to see the figure of a man, strapped to a gurney, being lifted into the ambulance.

    "Blessed Mother," Mrs. Cardozi murmured, and the little prayer, like the invocatory gesture, rippled through the group.

    "They'll be O.K.," I tried to reassure Renata. She nodded sadly and, knowing there was nothing to be done, I left, running down the block toward New York University Law School. Knowing my vision of what had happened to Mr. Berzini was real, I felt myself caught between the pleasure that came with my strange new talent, and repulsion for what it had shown me.

    The visions had started a few months back--coming in psychic flashes, premonitions, and even precognitive dreams. It was 1978, my final year in law school, and while most of my fellow students were narrowing their sights on which corporate or tax law firm they wanted to work for, my world was expanding in ways I could not comprehend.

    My sixth sense had begun with small things--like knowing that the phone was going to ring before it did. And then knowing who was on the other end of the line. I knew the answers to a professor's questions without having read the assigned case law or text, and I often sensed what people were going to say before they spoke. And though it was temporary, I had developed a photographic memory that allowed me to scan pages with tremendous speed, later calling them to mind as if they were lying right in front of me.

    I rushed beneath an arched gateway and through a courtyard into the large brick building that housed the law school. Standing before a bank of elevators in the lobby, instinctively knowing which set of doors would open before me, I entered the elevator feeling as if the "normal" world had once again shifted, showing me a side of reality ordinarily hidden from view. This ability to see the dark side of the moon was thrilling, even when it was disturbing. It was the provocative opposite of the rules and regulations, the laws and codes that had, until recently, held my complete attention.

    Perhaps it could be traced to the old Sicilian lady who lived and died in my building, the one Mrs. Cardozi called a strega, whose powerful and mysterious presence seemed to linger long after her soul left her body. Perhaps it was triggered by the little bundle of blue corn and strange herbs given to me by a young man who taught on a Hopi reservation. He had called it a medicine bundle, and told me it was given to him by an elderly woman, with instructions to give it to the butterfly girl who came to her in dreams seeking justice. There were times when I thought it came from my practice of yoga, or from a contact high from the sweet-smelling marijuana smoke that curled out from beneath my roommates' doors when their boyfriends came to call.

    It may have all started because deep within me, hidden somewhere beneath my well-trained, analytical mind, an instinct was guiding me to break out of the chrysalis of my rational self. And perhaps it was all in the timing, for I later learned that others underwent similar epiphanic experiences at that remarkable moment in time, when Jupiter and Saturn were about to conjoin--an astrological occurrence that happens once every twenty years, bringing a new spiritual vision.

    Memory selects events with significance, discerning a pattern that is invisible in the moment. I now know that my shift in consciousness came from a magical combination of all of these things, stirred together in the cauldron of a young woman on the threshold of life. What was unique was not the latent gift, for I now know it resides within all of us, but my ability, my willingness, my desire to pay attention to the signs and summonings that drew it forth. But that year, all I knew was that amazing things were happening, and the universe seemed alive and aware of my existence. It seemed to be sending me messages, as if to guide me in a direction I'd never considered. The question was: where?

   Once in class, I pushed my musing aside and concentrated on mastering the intricacies of pension and welfare plans, for I had some plans of my own. I had accepted a position as legal director for a rank and file union reform group fighting against organized crime in their union. In a few months, after I passed the bar, I'd be heading to work in the group's main office in Washington, D.C.

    But the name Isis continued to echo through my mind, haunting me as I walked down the busy streets of Manhattan. She was a mysterious figure that beckoned to me, summoning me to steal an hour here or there, during the day, between or after classes, to search for her name, her face, a clue to her meaning. I soon found myself among the ruins and artifacts in the high marble halls of the Egyptian collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    I stood for hours in a gallery of beautiful frescoes that climbed to the ceiling. The colors were breathtaking--sea green and lapis lazuli blue, honey gold, and carnelian red. Women with wide jeweled collars and long black hair, dressed in sarongs of pleated white linen, stared at me with their large almond eyes across the abyss of time. I could hear the hypnotic shaking of their rattles, the sistrums in their hands, the ting of golden finger cymbals, the provocative, soul-summoning thock of drums made of hammered silver, ceramic fired mud of the fertile Nile, or carved from the trunk of the fragrant myrrh tree in the shape of the full moon or a woman's body, and covered with antelope skin.

    I envisioned these graceful women in their ancient serpentine dances of sex, death, and rebirth, the mysteries of the moon, of desire and the womb so powerful in its summoning forth. I longed to dance with them in the presence of grand ibis, the birds with black beaks that curve like scimitars spearing fish in the emerald waters of the Nile. I saw men with crescent horned oxen plowing brown fields, and everywhere, lotus flowers in colors of a desert rainbow. It felt vibrantly alive, the energy as vivid as the colors that dazzled me, and I was inexpressibly happy. The beauty there made it difficult to return to the canons of law, which seemed as dead and dusty as I had once thought the world painted on the museum's walls.

    Long before I dreamed the name Isis, I had longed for the colors of the Nile. When I first moved into my West Village apartment over a year before, I had painted my bedroom the very same coral I found on these walls. I hung posters on my wall with portraits of Egyptian priestesses and queens, papyrus fronds billowing in unseen breezes, and lotus buds looking like spherical dreams waiting to be opened. I slept on terra-cotta-colored sheets marked with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. These silent symbols of venerable magic, these incantations of reincarnation and ecstasy, which I could not read with my waking mind, summoned the part of me that walked in dreams each night.

    In those dreams I found truths and precognitions I could not have logically foretold--the sudden death of a beloved aunt, the return of a long-lost friend, my father's recovery from a coma. There was also a terrifying nightmare about an accident that appeared in the headlines the next morning. And several times I had the same mysterious dream in which I felt more awake than asleep: Each time it began, I was alone in a great hall. Music like rippling water filled the room, and a woman sat before me. Her face was pensive and serene; a book lay open in her lap. A shining light crowned her head and a necklace with a six-pointed star hung at her throat. The power that radiated from her crown and her throat became so bright I was momentarily blinded. I blinked and she was gone. Who was she? I wondered. Could she be Isis?

    I searched my memory for answers, but it seemed they came to me only in the dark cave of sleep, when the portal opens into a mysterious realm of power. In our dreams, we willingly pass through to the other side, journey to far-off places, encounter demons and lovers, fly like birds, and swim like dolphins. We learn a language of symbols, and spirits speak to us, guiding our waking days, though we may not remember when the sun rises why we suddenly know the truth or choose an unexpected path. We are rewarded with signs and talismans that transform our waking world with the magic of dreams come true. And one day, we awaken at the precise moment when the moon sets and the sun rises and we realize that new life begins with a dream.


I turned twenty-five during my last term of law school, and among my birthday gifts I received a biography of the actor James Dean, who was also born on February 8. I longed to sit in the park and read, but it was a bitter cold day and so I took it with me to the Metropolitan Museum. I sat in the cafe, reading, when a quote from The Egyptian Book of the Dead rose startlingly from the page: "Give to me my mouth that I may speak with it. May I follow my heart at its season of fire and night, they come forth the souls upon earth...."

    I felt as if I'd opened a time capsule and found a note from Isis with my name on it. And the added coincidence of finding those words at the museum thrilled me. From the collection's statues and artifacts, I knew that Isis was a mother who suckled her son as she sat upon a throne, she carried emblems of divine power, wore a crown of vulture's wings and a serpent's head, was glorious and beautiful. But I longed for more.

    The next day, during a break between classes, I ran to the undergraduate library and quickly prowled between the bookcases until I found my quarry--The Egyptian Book of the Dead, translated by E. A. Wallis Budge. The leather binding of the ancient edition cracked open, and the afternoon quickly fell away. I missed my classes, caught in the spell of the enchanting prose. Carefully turning the yellowed pages, I read of how Isis--goddess, wife, sister, and Witch--journeyed to the Underworld and by her magic restored life to her beloved husband, the lost and sundered god Osiris.

    My law books remained closed that night as I read Isis's lamentation for the death of Osiris. I traveled with her into the nether realms to heal his wounded form, journeyed through the rich Nile valley and through the desert gathering the thirteen pieces of Osiris's body that had been torn asunder by his envious and angry brother, Set. I watched as she knelt above his lifeless body, heard her voice singing riddles of rebirth, saw her hair spill forth to shield them from view as she worked her magic. I marveled at ancient mysteries and the magical powers of love that could summon back life from the realms of death. But still I wondered what these lost miracles had to do with me.

    In the past, everything about my life had been thoughtful and sensible. My parents were intellectuals who had left the superstitious constraints of religion behind them long ago. As a young girl, I remember asking my mother whether we believed in God. She replied that we believed in the goodness of the human heart and, when I grew up, I could find out for myself whether God existed. I was satisfied with her answer and lived my life as I had been raised--by the Golden Rule and the basic conviction that human beings were responsible for their own destinies. Life was what we made of it and it was up to all of us, together--not some distant God--to create the promised land here on earth for everyone.

    But though my parents' moral beliefs were founded in reason, they were still two of the most spiritual people I had ever known. I'd learned from example as they practiced their beliefs. My father, who'd gone to sea at the age of twelve, was a union organizer; my mother was a diplomat who, despite her wealthy upbringing, was part of the early fight for racial equality. I'd been raised with Woody Guthrie and the Metropolitan Opera, John Steinbeck and William Shakespeare, in a family that defied the boundaries of class, religion, and race. As my parents had, I defined myself by my intellectual capacities and convictions. I studied philosophy at Brown University and attended one of the top law schools in the country.

    My idealism, and my career choice, seemed resolutely sensible: Democratic unions meant a democratic society, and an agenda of social justice was the only rational course for a great nation. My recent psychic experiences, however, were not "sensible." They were extrasensory, and the world I lived in had no explanation for them. And so I kept my secrets to myself.

    I was unaware that I was experiencing a shamanic break--a break with the socially defined reality opening to the greater reality of a sacred, living universe. Some Native Americans, and Witches, would describe it as "a calling." Aldous Huxley referred to these experiences as an opening of "the doors of perception." In other cultures, other epochs, I would have been swiftly sent off to study with the village shaman, or to attend the college of priestesses. Or I might have been burned at the stake. But this was New York City in the 1970s. I'd been too young for the psychedelic sixties, I'd never read Carlos Castaneda, and Esalen was a world away in California. I had no frame of reference for understanding or cultivating what was happening to me. Yet because my psychic flashes were objectively borne out by events, I turned to science for sensible and rational explanations.

    Between classes I returned to the undergraduate library. In books on physics, the original "natural science" devoted to the study of matter and energy, I read that physicists had discovered a new level of reality. Underlying the three-dimensional, physical world described by Newton's Laws, they found an "invisible" realm, a quantum level of subatomic particles and energy. It is a realm that underlies, pervades, and forms the world we "see" and live in each day.

    At the quantum level, everything is interconnected energy, even matter. Quantum reality is another level of existence, another dimension. Here the energy field is the underlying order, a hidden or shadow reality of our daily lives. We see solid material objects as separated from one another--a rock, a table, a human being--but on the quantum level, they are all actually bundles of vibrating, interacting energy. And though we perceive them to exist separately, these energies--the rocks and tables and ourselves--are interconnected. As Einstein said, "Our separation from each other is an optical illusion of consciousness."

    Even more extraordinarily, I learned that quantum physics experiments have shown that we can influence objects, even people, and events in ways I never imagined. Science opened the doors of my perception to an astonishing reality: The role of the human mind in this realm goes far beyond that of an analytical tool. Experiments have actually proven that we can influence the movement of subatomic particles. In other words, the experimenter can directly affect the outcome of the experiment, through thought and will alone. Our simple observations and our expectations of subatomic particles will alter their course. The magic of yesterday is today's science.

    I sat at my desk with a pile of physics books to the right, law books to the left, and The Egyptian Book of the Dead in the center. Though it was three o'clock in the morning, I was unable to sleep, awestruck at the implications. With unrealized powers, we create our reality in virtually magical ways. But what of the longings of the heart, and the fears that lurked in the shadows? What realities would they create?

    With growing excitement I learned that my experiences reflected an entirely different set of rules about reality. These rules defied the expectations with which we were all raised, and by which we lived. And more important, physics provided a hook for me to hang up my skeptic's hat. Like a child whose storybook had suddenly come alive before her, I had stumbled into a universe of astonishing possibility. Still, science couldn't help me explain the quality of my experiences--why the world was now intoxicatingly alive, full of wonder and miracles, strange events and shimmering beauty. Most exhilarating of all was the unshakable feeling of a presence observing, accompanying, and even guiding me. I began to sense I was in touch with an élan vital, an intelligent and creative universe.

    There were times when I felt the universe come to me like a mother's encompassing embrace, and other moments when it seemed to be the enchanting magnetism of a lover's presence. But why these events were happening to me, what they meant, and what role I played in them as the "experimenter," remained a mystery.


After my graduation, I studied intensely for the bar exam, marveling at the usefulness of my enhanced memory. When the exams were over, I packed and left for Washington, D.C. But, once there, I missed New York and soon realized I dearly missed the magic I had left behind, for the premonitions, dreams, and insights had stopped. Pushing aside my disappointment at having the door to this other world closed, I hoped it was only a matter of time before it would open again. In the meantime, I threw myself into my work with complete devotion. Like so many young idealists who head to our capital, I was determined to help make a difference for those who lived in the shadow of the American dream.

    With a religious zeal, I lobbied Congress, counseled drivers with problems in their locals, and testified before congressional committees on the appalling absence of truck and bus safety and the devastating damage to the health of drivers. I consulted with lawyers about litigation to clean up the union, dealt with the press, worked on grant proposals and legislation for workers' health and safety, and traveled the country on organizing drives, urging union members to battle for change. Unfortunately, less than a year after I'd begun, the Washington office was closed and my job was sacrificed in a merger of reform organizations, victim to budget cuts, differing priorities, and most of all, politics, of which sexual politics was certainly a part.

    A shadow had fallen on my idealistic expectations, and though disappointed, I was also relieved to return to New York City. I now knew life without magic was no longer enough for me. So I settled into a tiny studio apartment, and waited for the magic to begin. I went back to the foundation I'd worked for in law school. I filed briefs to democratize corrupt unions, wrote articles, organized plaintiffs from around the country for lawsuits. And I waited.

    Months passed without sign or stirring of enchantment. Maybe the magic needed jump starting, I thought, so I began to hang out at rock and roll clubs like CBGB's and Max's Kansas City, rubbing elbows with the Lower East Side's black-clad punks and rockers. It was a culture of rebels who knew that music could be a magic carpet to a world of passionate intensity. And there was always the hope that my romantic dreams might materialize in human form, wearing old blue jeans and a beat-up leather jacket, with a light in his eyes and a heart full of poetry. It was an instinctual choice to roam among this crowd, and though I couldn't prove it yet, I was certain that passion, music, and magic were inextricably interwoven.

    I soon found myself managing a band. After finishing up work, I would head for the Music Building, an old warehouse on Eighth Avenue, alive with the sounds of all kinds of bands rehearsing: heavy metal, rhythm and blues, punk, new wave, and rockabilly. It was a scene, vital and alive, full of raucous jubilation and the rapture of amazing harmony. I accompanied my band to gigs or hung out with musicians until dawn. Many nights I crashed on a mattress on the floor of the rehearsal studio, and made love with my new boyfriend, a volatile and handsome left-handed drummer. In the morning, I donned my business attire and raced off to fight corruption in trade unions. But though the music was magical, and the work was gratifying, there was still no magic within me.

    And then the music brought Sophia to me. She arrived in the Music Building like a messenger sent to set me back on course. We hit it off right away, hanging out on the third floor where the band she managed rented a space. Equipment was jammed all along the walls and there were piles of clothes scattered around the floor, soda bottles, the usual mess made by lost boys. Sophia and I were a couple of Wendys, but we drew the line at cleaning up after them. Sharp as a tack, Sophia was funny and hip. But there was one odd thing about Sophia: She called herself a Witch, a white Witch.

    My parents had taught me not to judge by labels, for beneath stereotypes there was often a very different reality. I decided to ignore this one, to dismiss it as an idiosyncrasy. And then one afternoon while we were waiting for the roadies to load her band's gear for a gig downtown, my curiosity overwhelmed me and I finally asked her: "So exactly what is this Witch thing?"

    Sophia dropped into the sagging couch at the front of her studio and a cloud of dust lifted into the air.

    "First of all," she said, "before I can tell you what it is, I have to explain what it isn't. It has nothing to do with Satanism. That was a completely false accusation made by the Church in an effort to suppress the Old Religion. They called it Satanism and that justified their use of torture and violence to do away with the competition."

    I nodded. I was all too familiar with the practice, and consequences, of witch-hunts. "Go on."

    "The word Witch comes from an old Anglo-Saxon word wicce." She pronounced this word just as she said the word Witch, adding a soft a to the end of it. "It meant a wise one, a seer, a shaman. And, it may also reflect an old Nordic word, vitke, which meant a singer of sacred songs. The Old Religion is a lot like Native American spirituality--it's the indigenous earth religion of Europe. There's a Goddess as well as a God, and everything that exists in nature is experienced as sacred, as part of the Goddess, and the God. There are also remnants of the Mystery Schools of ancient Greece and Egypt in Wiccan cosmology."

    "Mystery Schools?" I asked, my attention caught by her mention of goddesses and Egypt. I thought of Isis, my dreamkeeper.

    "Yes, they were the dominant religious traditions for several thousand years throughout Greece and the rest of the Fertile Crescent. The Mystery Schools centered on the worship of the Great Goddess. Their primary mythos was the story of the Goddess's descent into the Underworld and her divine gifts of restoring life to the world."

    It was Isis's story. A thrill shot through me with the hope that my magic was returning.

    "Anyway, the way we practice now has remnants of ceremonial traditions that sought to preserve those mysteries, and the folk practices which are very shamanic."

    "Shamanic? You means like shamanism, European shamanism?"

    Sophia nodded.

    I knew from my college anthropology classes that shamanism was an ancient religious practice that enabled the shaman, or "medicine man, or woman" to enter a state of ecstatic consciousness. He, or she, would then receive the aid and guidance of spirit helpers, who often came to the shaman in the form of an animal. My excitement grew as we discussed how, in this state of ecstatic consciousness, the shaman could diagnose and heal illness, commune with the divine, and receive information about practical matters such as where to hunt, plant, or live. I had read that shamanism was practiced throughout the world by indigenous peoples, such as Native Americans, Aborigines, Africans, the Inuit (Eskimos), Lapps, Siberians, Hawaiians, Tahitians, Japanese, and others. But I'd never realized Europeans had also practiced shamanism.

    "Do you belong to a ... coven?" I hesitated saying it, anxious at how quickly dark and frightening images came to my mind.

    Sophia shook her head. "No, I prefer to work alone. But I know some other Witches, if you'd like to meet them. They're mostly hidden, for obvious reasons, but there are certain ... portals."

    I smiled. "No thanks. One Witch in my life is more than enough for me."

    "You'd be surprised," she said mysteriously, and got up to let the roadies in.

    I let the subject drop, feeling too awkward to ask more questions in front of others, unable to understand how a bright person like Sophia could be involved in anything so ... offbeat. I could accept her explanation that it had nothing to do with Satanism, but what about casting spells on people, and riding on broomsticks, and magical potions, and ... still, I respected her and enjoyed her company. Who knew, maybe there was more to Witchcraft than met the eye. And certainly, when I thought of Witchcraft I thought of magic--perhaps knowing Sophia would lure the magic back into my life.

    A month later, I woke up with a stiff neck to the sound of unfamiliar voices and the smell of strong coffee. Where am I? I wondered, groggy with sleep. And then it came back to me with a rush of sadness: Last night I'd finally broken up with my boyfriend and Sophia had let me crash on her couch. She was standing over me with a cup of steaming java.

    "Good morning. I've got an idea. Have you ever had your cards read?"

    I shook my head. It was too early for this stuff. It was too early to be conscious. It was Saturday, and I just wanted to sleep.

    "Well, I want you to meet Maia. I called her and she says she can read you this morning."

    Too tired to protest, I murmured my assent, then left the room to take a quick shower. I want to go home, I thought as I dressed. Actually, though, I didn't want to be alone. We were headed out the door when I remembered my silver and jade ring. Sophia had taken it from me last night to "charge" on her altar and, while it sounded a little weird, I humored her. I had watched as she slipped it onto a long willow branch tied with feathers and bells that jingled softly as she handled it. She placed the wand, with my ring, on a small table beside her bed. It was low to the floor, covered with a pink silk scarf. Spiraling nautilus shells and roses, gemstones, crystals, and a statue of a female figure were also carefully arranged on the table. As I drifted off to sleep on the couch the night before, I could have sworn I heard the sound of women's voices singing, and laughing.

    "Here it is." Sophia raced back and handed my ring to me. I slipped it on the third finger of my right hand. I shook my hand, my eyes opening wide in disbelief--my finger was tingling with electricity.

    "Come on. We don't want to be late," Sophia said, smiling at my astonishment. She lived in the Village, not far from my old apartment. We quickly walked up Sixth Avenue, turning off onto a block in the upper teens.

    We stopped in front of the last place on earth I would expect to find myself--on an incidental side street, in front of a dusty storefront window, and beneath a long green banner with large, gold, Gothic lettering: MAGICAL CAULDRON. I peered into the dusty window and saw a small black cauldron, a statue of an Egyptian goddess, and bookcovers with strange markings. There were decks of Tarot cards, an odd assortment of silver jewelry, green stone scarabs, and a large crystal ball. A broom with a rough-hewn handle and long yellow straw leaned against the glass. And in the middle of all this was an apparition, a face that appeared and disappeared as swiftly as the clouds racing across the sky. I blinked, and there it was staring back at me--my own startled face reflected in the plate glass. Joke's on me, I thought. Then I looked down and found myself standing in the middle of a large symbol that looked like a medieval number four surrounded by indecipherable characters all marked in green chalk on the sidewalk. I heard the sound of bells and saw Sophia disappearing through the old front door. What the hell, I thought, think of it as an adventure.

    I walked into a perfumed cloud of smoke that hung in the air like drifting cobwebs. I surveyed my surroundings uneasily. It was unlike any bookstore I'd ever seen. Instead of being brightly lit, the shop was dark, illuminated only by a few dim bulbs hanging from the tin ceiling high above. Along my left, running down the center of the store, was a long, crowded bookcase. To my right, a brick wall was lined with large glass jars of strange herbs, twisted roots, dried flowers, and powders the color of the desert at sunset. I hurried to catch up with Sophia and found her at the back of the shop, sniffing the contents of an exotic little bottle with a red jeweled top.

    "Mmmm, a new oil. Smell." She waved it under my nose and images of tigers and elephants, crowded open air marketplaces, and billowing curtains of pink and saffron silk blew past my mind's eye. I smelled the spices coriander and cardamom, then ginger, cinnamon, and flowers I did not know.

    "It makes me think of India."

    "Very good--it's a Lakshmi oil. Lakshmi is an Indian goddess of fertility and love."

    Dark brown and cobalt blue apothecary bottles filled the narrow shelves along the back wall of the shop. "Oil Office" noted a little calligraphied sign. Several leather-bound books with yellowed pages sat open on a wooden table, next to funnels of various sizes and scores of tiny clear glass bottles.

    "I wonder where Maia is?" Sophia asked, and smiled at me reassuringly.

    "Maybe she's invisible," I quipped. The bookstore was just a little too peculiar for me. "Listen, I'm perfectly happy to come back another--"

    The wall in front of me started to shake and the colorful robes hanging from a wooden pole began to dance as if ghosts had jumped into them for a midnight romp. The wall wrenched open and before me stood a small, olive-skinned woman with thick raven hair and a lovely round face.

    "I keep telling Herman we've got to get this damned door fixed."

    Hugging Sophia while laughing warmly, she turned to me.

    "I'm Maia. So, Sophia told me you need to have your cards read? Sit down." Waving me to a seat at a small table, she carefully began to unwrap something from a purple silk bundle.

    It was a deck of Tarot cards. They were larger than playing cards, with an elegant blue and white mosaic pattern on the side facing me. She began shuffling them nimbly and I glimpsed flashes of color as they flew from one hand to the other.

    "Have you ever had your cards read?" she asked, her voice rich and full, with the earthy tinge of a Bensonhurst accent.

    I shook my head.

    "Ah," she murmured, a little smile appearing, and nothing more was said.

    My gaze shifted to her face--she was the image of a Sicilian madonna. Though her movements were quick and energetic, her composure was tranquil. She looked up, her deep black eyes meeting mine. "What's your question?" she asked.

    My mind flashing on carnival gypsies, I ran through a sensible list of possibilities--Will my grant be renewed so I could stay at the foundation? Will I find true love? Should I continue managing my band?--as if this were a mere sideshow game, but I had been yearning for more of the magic that had invaded my life. And in spite of my skepticism, I found myself speaking from the heart.

    I asked: "Where does the path lie?"

    Without hesitation she replied, "It lies within."

    "But how do I get there?" This was no minor question, for the one thing I knew with certainty about myself was that my life had always been thoughtfully directed toward the outside world--to get good grades, work hard, fight for social justice, try to make the world a better place. The idea of an inner life was only just beginning to take shape in my mind. But events had awakened my heart to its unsuspected capacity to know this hidden realm of being and I hungered for a portal back to the magic that had enchanted my life.

    She replied by shuffling the deck of Tarot cards and smiling.

    "Cut the deck into three piles, then put them back together, any way you want, into one pile."

    I could feel by their well-worn edges that the cards had been used in many readings. Thinking of all the fortunes they must have foretold, I wondered about mine as I lifted and rearranged the piles. Maia picked them up, held them between her hands, closed her eyes, and sat for an infinite moment.

    She opened her eyes and, very slowly, turning over one card at a time, spread sixteen cards in an intricate pattern on the table before me. Though they were upside down as I viewed them, I could see brightly painted images of people, animals, cups, staves, swords, and shining disks. I watched and wondered if it was possible that the unconscious powers of the mind--my mind--could instruct the placement of these cards. Would this ancient set of symbols fall into patterns that revealed more truth about me to a complete stranger than I knew about myself? Would the laws of quantum mechanics work as my expectations influenced the movement of energy, and particles, and cards?

    The answer went beyond my conscious anticipation. But it wasn't Maia's prophecy of a new job where I would make a great deal of money, or her insights into my restless heart, that persuaded my skeptical soul that this woman had a talent for the truth. As she interpreted the cards' meaning for me, Maia spoke of things I had told no one, small things that astonished me--like my missing carnelian ring, which I usually wore on my left hand, taken from me by Antonio, a man I'd met at a party, to ensure that I would see him again. Maia could have known about my work as a lawyer, my family background, dozens of things from Sophia. But no one knew about Antonio and no one knew about the ring. I couldn't help but wonder whether it wasn't just a lucky guess, despite the precise details with which Maia described both my ring and Antonio. But then she paused, as if startled, and said, "There's a spirit that leads you ... the woman with the star."

    A chill ran up my spine. How could she know? I'd never told a soul about my dream.

    "You've met her, haven't you? In your dreams."

    I nodded, knowing some force of mystery and intelligence was at play in the field of my unspoken consciousness.

    "You've been wise to follow where she leads you."

    I stared at the brilliant array of cards that illuminated and bemused me. Closest to me, at the top of a line of four cards, was the picture of a woman. She was seated beneath a large tree, and a shield that bore the symbol of Venus rested by her side. She was pregnant and sat, smiling beatifically, working at a spinning wheel. A basket filled with fruits and grains also rested beside her and in the background was a vast and fertile landscape. Beneath it was the Roman numeral III. I later learned this is the Empress card, the card of the Goddess. As I stared at the image, suddenly, somehow I knew: Things didn't just happen randomly, but were the extraordinary effects of a force of destiny, or desire, so profound that it could animate a lifeless universe.

    Events were spinning like silken threads from a cocoon of longing, and unseen hands were weaving them into an enchanted tapestry. Sitting in front of me was a woman at ease with the spinning of the wheel and the mysterious movements of the shuttle that flew through the loom of life. Here was someone who understood there was meaning in the pattern. Perhaps she even knew the weaver.

    In the space of less than an hour, my perception of the world, like the cards spread before me, had again been turned upside down. Topsyturvy, I thought, and in the instant I thought it, Maia had me pull two final cards from the deck. She handed me the first one--it was a man hanging upside down from a tree. Beneath the man were the words "The Hanged Man."

    "This is the god Odin."

    I felt my heart race, for I already knew of the Scandinavian god Odin. My father passed on tales from his Norwegian ancestors, and Odin was a principal divinity of the Norse pantheon. I remembered my father's bedtime stories of Odin, his wife, the goddess Freya, and Thor, Loki, and the other Scandinavian divinities. Odin had suffered for nine days, hanging upside down from the Yggdrasil tree, helpless and alone, until a raven plucked an eye from his head. He lost the ability to see "normally." In exchange for his sacrifice, Odin was given the runes, the first letters of a sacred alphabet, which enabled him to see within, to see into the past, and into the future. Without the runes, there would be no language, no poetry, no stories of love and valor. And there would be no prophecy, for each letter bears a magical meaning. To win the power of wisdom and the gift of inner sight, Odin had to be willing to sacrifice the way in which he had always seen the world.

    "In some readings, it is a card that can mean selfishness, but in others it means sacrificing for wisdom." Maia pulled the card from my tight fingers. Our eyes met as she asked me, "Can you make this sacrifice?"

    I knew that I had to be absolutely truthful. "I don't know," I replied.

    Maia grinned. "Honest--that's good. You just might find the answer to your question." She handed me the second card. "Do you know what this card means?"

    I looked at the tiny painting in my hand. It was gorgeous--a mysterious woman, dressed in a white gown embroidered with dark red pomegranates, sitting between two poplar trees, one white, the other black. Behind her was a shining moon, and in her hands she held a scroll. Across the bottom of the card were the words "High Priestess" and the Roman numeral II. I thought of the mysterious woman in my dreams. "The mysteries of life?" I asked.

    Maia nodded. She seemed satisfied, as if my reply had answered more than the question she had asked me.

    "And she who seeks them," she added. I felt her study my reaction and sensed in her approval a heightened curiosity. As quickly as Maia had handed the card to me, she now took it back, pushing it into the deck, then giving the cards a quick shuffle. She wrapped them carefully in the silk cloth and put them aside.

    "I've just started a women's group. It meets once a week," she said matter-of-factly. "Why don't you come? Who knows, you might find the answers you're looking for."

    "Thank you," I said. "The reading was amazing. And thank you for the invitation, but I may have to work."

    I felt dazed as Sophia and I emerged from the quiet cave of the dark shop into the frenetic blare of the street.

    "So what do you think?" Sophia was dancing around on the sidewalk like a schoolgirl after her first kiss behind the bleachers. "Is she amazing or what?"

    "Are you going to this thing tomorrow?" I asked, avoiding her inquiring look. Back in the usual world, as we struggled just to cross the street without getting run over by terrorist taxis, Maia's spell was rapidly breaking.

    "I'm really not into group stuff, I prefer working alone, but if it'll make you more comfortable, I'll go with you. You know, just to get you started. There aren't many opportunities to work with someone like Maia. I wouldn't say no 'til you've at least checked it out."

    I hesitated. In the stark light of day, I was starting to feel uncomfortable with the idea of going to a meeting of strangers--and Witches at that. "Mmm, I guess I have to think about it."

    We hugged good-bye and I headed off to the office to restore my sense of normalcy. At the tiny nonprofit organization I worked for, we had to make the most out of every penny, so the office was small, cramped, old, and donated. I put the reading out of my mind as I settled behind my battered desk. Work kept me busy, and I lost track of time. Finally, I switched off my desk light and leaned backward as far as I could in my chair. Stretching my aching neck and shoulders, I watched the brilliant blue Manhattan dusk fill my office with stillness. I closed one eye and squinted at the upside-down world out my window. Upside-down and one-eyed like the Hanged Man. How could I approach the world like that and survive? It sounded more like a prescription for cracking your head open than finding your way. I doubted I'd return to that strange little shop.

    On any other night I would have headed to my rehearsal studio at the Music Building. But that night I felt as though the world had slipped out from beneath my feet, and somehow, I needed to get in touch with magic again.

    The path lies within.

    "CBGB's," I told the cab driver.

    The club down in the middle of the Bowery was crowded and loud, but the pressure of people and noise wasn't enough to push Maia's words out of my head. Looking around the room, I saw a legion of young men dressed for a part they didn't know how to play. I had given up looking for my incarnated rebel, my other half, my unknown love, my god-come-to-earth in a pair of old jeans and a fast car. I was tired and bored with looking on the outside. Somehow I knew what I needed had to be found within myself. I finished my drink, said good-bye to my pals, and headed home.

    I showered off the smell of smoke and climbed into bed. I thought I was awake when the dream came again. She was seated beside me, and larger than life, with a blinding light emanating from a star at her throat. Then, suddenly, I was awake and the magic was gone yet again.


A year had passed since my return to New York, and the universe was forcing me to surrender another set of expectations. It was clear I had to find a new job with a salary I could live on, since there wasn't enough money to renew my grant. Calls, interviews, lunches, and coffee with partners at various progressive labor law firms and unions had left me with statements of respect, accompanied by polite apologies of nothing available except shared office space.

    But I didn't give up. I wore my banker's gray suit, the pink silk blouse with the bow tie, and a string of pearls my mother gave me. I pulled my hair back into a neat chignon. I carried letters of recommendation from congressmen and civil liberties lawyers who'd made history. I waited in reception areas larger than my apartment, sat on slippery leather chairs, gave firm handshakes, and made steady eye contact. The futility of my efforts escaped me until finally a lawyer who had worked in the labor movement for years clued me in. I was looking for someone to help me fight on behalf of the rank and file, against the mob, against corrupt leadership. No large firm wanted to take on that battle. I was feeling lost and without direction, but events were conspiring to teach me an important lesson: You cannot have the great adventure of finding your way until you've gone astray.

    I headed home, with tears of frustration shattering a dam of control I'd kept in place for weeks. I wept, and just as I was climbing into a tub of steaming water to soak away my sadness, the phone rang. I wrapped myself in a towel and raced down the hall to answer it.

    "Did I dream that I took you to see Maia? Or were you there too?" Sophia asked.

    "Yes--it was a dream and yes, I was there too."

    "So, what's the deal? You've had plenty of time to think it over--are you going to her women's group or what?"

    "Well, I've been a little busy with unimportant matters like survival, you know."

    "Well, it's your decision. Maybe you've been hunting for the wrong thing. I mean, you can survive, or you can thrive--it all depends on which path you choose. Call me when you make up your mind. If you can't trust yourself to decide, maybe you should trust fate. Some opportunities come along once in a lifetime--carpe diem, darlin'."

    Make a decision. That sounded good--as though I had control, as though I could choose, instead of waiting to be chosen. Or maybe Sophia was right, and fate had already chosen me. I had been, after all, learning to do nothing if not follow signs over the last couple of years. Was the decision to try this circle, as Sophia called the women's group, so difficult to accept because it had been placed directly in front of me? Or because it was such a damned strange choice to make? After all, they were Witches. I pulled out my diary from the drawer of my nightstand, opening it to record my thoughts. When I looked down, I found myself reading from an entry written years before: "Moonlight filters in through the city skylight.... I look around the circle of women who stand with me...."

    A shiver passed through me. I scrambled into my comfort clothes--jeans, T-shirt, and leather jacket--and headed for my Egyptian oasis at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, remembering how it had nurtured me through that last strange year of law school. I relived my fascination with the images of Isis and the ancient invocations of Horus, the mysterious little amulets, and the grand Temple of Dendur. And then I took a detour, leaving the Egyptian collection behind and wandering into the American Wing, which I learned had a new garden extension. I pushed open the large glass door, entering a beautiful glass-enclosed greenery.

    Set within a niche, formed by the outer stone walls of the museum, the garden's gracious proportions were grand, cleverly combining the neoclassical architecture of the original building with a modern encasement. A glass wall, running along the northern side, was several stories tall and allowed soft light to fill the space. Through the glass I could see the rolling green of Central Park. Along the walls were Arcadian Tiffany panels, a statue of a bacchante feeding grapes to an infant, and an enormous fireplace held aloft by caryatids. The pieces were as majestic in scale as the garden itself. Four squares of English ivy divided the space, tall papyrus fronds grew from a rectangular reflecting pool, and in the center of it all was a golden statue of Diana, goddess of the hunt, naked, standing like a ballerina on one pointed foot, her bow pulled taut.

    I walked slowly, allowing the beauty of the sanctuary to fill and soothe me, strolling from one great marble statue to another, not thinking about my decision, just enjoying the silence and magnitude. And then I saw her--crown upon her head, six-pointed star at her throat, seated with a book in her hand--a luminescent white marble statue of the woman in my dream.

    I felt as if I would choke on my own breath, my heart missed beats and a terrific pressure squeezed my temples. The room became blindingly bright and a wave of dizziness hit me as I sank into a chair beside my miracle.

    I was almost afraid to look at her, astonished to see my dream come to life. I looked instead at the discreet little plaque by her beautiful bare toes: "The Libyan Sibyl."

    My eyes followed the graceful folds of sculpted stone draped across her lap. In her left hand she held a sheaf of papers; her chin rested in the cup of her right hand. As in the dream, she was bare breasted. Her hair fell in plaits around her bare shoulders. A six-pointed star hung from a necklace that encircled her ivory neck, and a simple triangular crown rested upon her brow. Her face was strong, intelligent, with an aquiline nose and full lips. I studied every nuance of her face, as she stared into the realm where dreams come true.

    The afternoon passed while I sat in the presence of an inexplicable revelation. At closing time, I left the great conservatory, descending the great stone steps of the Museum. I walked up Fifth Avenue and headed into the park, adoring the brilliant blue twilight and dewy green grass. I was so energized by the encounter that I practically ran all the way back to 86th Street and Riverside.

    "Sibyl, sibyl, sibyl," I sang, rushing into my little room. I pulled my favorite dictionary, the 1933 edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, from the shelf and found her name: "Sibyl ... 1. One of various women of antiquity who were reputed to possess powers of prophecy and divination ... 2. A prophetess; a fortune teller, witch."

    I decided to accept Maia's invitation.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Preface
Ch. 1 The Dark Side of the Moon 1
Ch. 2 The Hidden Children of the Goddess 23
Ch. 3 A Coven of Witches 44
Ch. 4 Magic 67
Ch. 5 Between the Worlds 90
Ch. 6 Air & Fire, Water & Earth 110
Ch. 7 Magic Mirrors and Altered States 132
Ch. 8 The Guardian at the Gate 153
Ch. 9 Drawing Down the Moon 174
Ch. 10 Cone of Power 197
Ch. 11 Enchantments 218
Ch. 12 As Above, So Below 241
Ch. 13 Crossing Over 262
Appendix 285
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2000

    The Most Intriguing of them All

    This is an enchanting story of a woman's journey to becoming a Wiccan priestess. She doesn't just focus on the 'magick', but gives us a part of her life journey and how they intertwined together. I think it is her personal story that sets the book completely apart from any other I have ever read. She painted many beautiful pictures of her journey and I could envision them, as if I was there. I highly recommend this for the goddesses; her feministic encouragement is well deserved by all women. However, this is also an excellent tool for the gods (men), for understanding the live struggles for women today. All in all, this has got to be one of my favorite witchcraft books. . . I think it will be one of yours too.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)