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Ch.3 Book of Shadows (WMB 3.f)

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @


We should also point out an interesting use of terminology with regard to the Key of Solomon, as a Hebrew version of this manuscript dated circa 1700 has the sub-title of Sefer ha-Levanah – the ‘Book of the Moon’.[1] Considering the lunar emphasis in the Wiccan tradition this is another curious synchronicity. It has been suggested that this book is the same Sefer ha-Levanah mentioned by the Jewish Kabbalist Rabbi Nahmanides in the thirteenth century in his work Commentary on Deuteronomy, which potentially provides us with a significantly earlier date of origin.

Like the books of the old cunning folk, the first known version of the Book of Shadows, contained a mish-mash of material from different sources, including the Key of Solomon. It was believed to have been compiled by Gardner, and called Ye Bok of ye Art Magickal (BAM for short), a bad example of pseudo Old English which happily was dropped at some point in favour of Book of Shadows. Subsequent variants of the early Book of Shadows in the 1950s discarded much of the material in Ye Bok of ye Art Magickal, with minor changes being made to each version, which are sometimes referred to as Text A, Text B and Text C. However we will not use this nomenclature in the current volume, as the thrust of our work is in the opposite direction back in time.

As has been shown, copying a book of techniques which form the core of a system was in continuous practice from the thirteenth century onwards with first the grimoires and subsequently the Cunning folk and members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The use of the hand-copied Book of Shadows in the Wiccan tradition can thus be seen as a likely continuation of a common European magickal practice, amongst members of a variety of practices – including that of witchcraft - and suggests its use may well have been derived from such practices.

[1] Oriental MS 6360, Anon


<1> The Religion of Babylonia & Assyria, Jastrow, 1893, also quoted in The Book of Witches, Hueffer, 1908

<2> An Historical Essay Concerning Witchcraft: With Observations Upon Matters of Fact, Hutchinson, 1718

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.



My name is Sorita d'Este

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Many years ago I dedicated myself to the pursuit of both esoteric knowledge, and an understanding of polytheism, the Gods and Nature.  I have been a full-time writer, author and publisher, specialising subjects linked to the occult, witchcraft, Paganism, mythology, ancient religions and magic - and all kinds of things in between since 2003. 


I live on a hill in Glastonbury, overlooking the marshes of Somerset,  a place of myth and legend, and a crossroad for many different religions. Here I am frequently found digging and growing, serving my fluffy rescue cat and navigating the unknown with my teenage son.  

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