Books & Literature

Book Review: The Book of Shadows, by Anastasia Greywolf

ALCHEMY: An all-in-one journal resource for learning the basics of witchcraft and spell-casting.

A light and positive journal that serves as a solid introduction to witchcraft.

Witchcraft is a practice steeped in history, tradition, and taboo. To the modern mind, the very word conjures images of women with warts and green skin, bubbling cauldrons in woodland thatched cottages, and Hogwarts. Though these are better than the Satanic-focused allegations that have been hurled at witches throughout history, which often led to the murder of those who practiced or were accused of practicing, mainstream society still has a long way to go on the path to understanding magick.

Sources like Anastasia Greywolf’s interactive journal, The Book of Shadows, aim to educate about the basics of witchcraft and dispel some of the more persistent myths surrounding the subject. This book contains more than 40 spells and rituals that can be performed at home. The diary element allows users to record and document their spellwork, and reflect on practices which may be life-enhancing.

The spells and rituals are divided into five chapters: Healing & Harmony, Power, Protection, Luck & Prosperity, and Love. Many of them revolve around self-development and personal growth without the slightest hint of anything dark or malicious.

As a total newbie to the subject, I found that Greywolf adequately covers the basics of magick, spells, and rituals, offering a clear and comprehensive introduction. She includes instructions on how to use the journal along with sections on witchcraft essentials, crystals and stones, herbs, candles, essential oils, and other tools, before recording the spells themselves. While seasoned witches may be left wanting more, the explanations and range of spells seem like more than enough for a beginner.

The spells require quite specific ingredients and tools, such as different coloured candles and coloured pouches or particular crystals and gemstones. You may have to spend a long time searching for and gathering the ingredients that are harder to come across, such as dried betony. However, there are also plenty of ingredients that you can get from your local market, or that you might already have at home, such as cinnamon sticks and bay leaves.

The Book of Shadows is contained within a beautiful black hardback cover decorated with gold text and imagery—exactly the kind of book you’d expect to find on the dusty shelf of a thatched woodland cottage. The definitions and explanations within are delivered in bite-sized sections also accompanied by colourful illustrations, which makes the text easier to understand.

This journal is a companion to Witchcraft: A Handbook of Magic Spells and Potions, which was also written by Greywolf and published in 2016. But it works just fine as a standalone tool to introduce readers to the world of magick. The reflective journal prompts also allow room for readers to explore their own emotions and thought processes, which can be helpful even if the spells themselves don’t end up making a large impact.

Despite a name that seems to suggest darkness, the journal carries a light and positive tone. Early on, the author clarifies that the truth sometimes lies in darkness, and therefore shadows do not necessarily symbolise something sinister—just something that’s hidden.

Reviewed by Vanessa Elle
Instagram: @vanessaellewrites

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Murdoch Books
Released: November 2021
RRP: $24.99

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