Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
View your shopping cart Shopping Cart | My Account | Help | Become a Fan on Facebook Become a Fan | Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us | Watch Us on YouTube Watch Us | Subscribe to our RSS Feeds Subscribe
Browse ProductsAuthorsArticlesBlogsEncyclopediaNewslettersAffiliate ProgramContact UsBooksellers
Article Topics
List of Articles
RSS Data Feeds
Mission Statement
Use of Our Articles
Writers' Guidelines

Email Exclusives
Sign up to receive special offers and promotions from Llewellyn.

Get the Latest Issue of New Worlds

September/October 2016 Issue

New Worlds Catalog

Get the FREE app for your tablet and mobile device. Now available in the iTunes Store and the Google Play Store

Also available as a PDF File.

Click for more information about New Worlds or to receive issues via mail.

The Llewellyn Journal
Print this Article Print this Article

Out of the Shadows, into the Light: Lady Sheba's Book of Shadows

This article was written by Llewellyn
posted under Pagan

In dark ages past, those who worshiped the Goddess as well as the God found themselves in danger of being tortured, stoned, hung, or burned by those who would rule by fear. Those who followed the ways of Nature found the need to practice their religion and craft in secret... in the shadows, so to speak.

Since many of them were unable to read or write—those privileges were reserved for the clerical and monied classes only—their faith and traditions were passed down orally, from mother to daughter, father to son, priestess to coveners. The Laws, Rituals, and Sabbats were carefully taught and memorized during that darksome time. Always in secret and always with one eye and one ear open for the oppressor.

In time, Witchcraft—as far as the non-Magickal world was concerned—passed into the realm of the fairy story. Still the Children of the Goddess remained quiet and hidden. Even though many dismissed the Wicca as myth, the practitioners of the old religions still found themselves pursued, harassed, and murdered if they were discovered.

As they learned to read and write, they began committing the old ways to paper and ink. Still fearful, and rightfully so, they were careful to copy the laws and sacred rites word for word from their priestess’ book of Magickal Arts, which had become known as the Book of Shadows. These Books of Shadows were protected and kept well hidden. They knew that if the Books were found, it might mean an untimely and excruciating end to them and possibly their families and friends.

In the early 1950s, England’s harsh anti-Witchcraft laws were repealed, and the Wicca began to let themselves be known to the worlds. Still, they faced opposition, fear, and anger from those who had no understanding of the ways of the wise. Witches such as Sybil Leek, Gerald Gardner, and others began a long crusade to educate the world as to the truth of Witchcraft today.

In 1971, Lady Sheba, a self-described Witch by tradition and a Gardnerian by choice, allowed Llewellyn to publish her own hand-copied Book of Shadows. Even though it was controversial and there were those who accused her of violating her “Oath of Secrecy,” she claimed the time of secrecy was past. She published it in the hope that it would bring to light the authentic beliefs of Witchcraft and reestablish the respectability of the ancient arts.

And apparently it was time. Lady Sheba was among the first to register Wicca as a legally recognized religion, inspiring many others to do the same. Such was the response to Lady Sheba’s Book of Shadows that Llewellyn had to reprint it again in 1973. Now, thanks to the bravery of Lady Sheba and those few before her who had the courage to “come out of the broom closet,” there are hundreds of groups and organizations with tens of thousands of openly magickal Wiccans and Pagans practicing their faith throughout the United States and abroad.

The Book of Shadows is more than a simple collection of spells. It is a repository of the key tenets of the Wiccan religion. It is an invaluable guide on the journey to spiritual fulfillment. If your only exposure to a Book of Shadows has been on television shows such as Charmed, or Sabrina, the Teen-aged Witch, you’ll be astonished at what a true Book contains.

The Book of Shadows is in three sections: The Laws, The Rituals, and The Sabbats. The Laws contain the description of the High Priestess and Priest, and the 162 rules of conduct for Witches. The Rituals describe the rites of initiation, consecration, and worship. Included are the actual chants and dances for calling on the Goddess and Gods. Finally, the rites for the Eight Sabbats—the most sacred of times for the Wicca—are revealed in their entirety in The Sabbats.

In spite of its success, The Book of Shadows has been out of print for over twenty years. Copies were guarded as jealously as the Books of Shadows of old. Rare and valued, they provided guidance to thousands of Witches throughout the world. Now, a new generation can study an authentic Book of Shadows and rediscover for themselves the truth of the Old Ways.


Please note that the use of Llewellyn Journal articles
is subject to certain Terms and Conditions

While most people are probably familiar with legendary creatures such as Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Chupacabra, and Jersey Devil, there is a myriad of weird beasts that are less known, but equally as elusive. What is surprising is that there are accounts of modern encounters with these enigmatic monsters on record, indicating that there... read this article
Four Powerful Ways to Live a Joyful Life Today
A Tarot Built for Magick: Modern Spellcaster's Tarot
Exercise: How to Feel Good
Investigating Haunted Bridges
Bodies of the Gods

Most recent posts:
The Biggest Challenge
Psychic Tarot by Nancy Antenucci and Melanie Howard In Psychic Tarot, Antenucci and Howard tell us that integrating the wisdom from a reading...

Author Michael Newton Has Passed
Today we sadly mark the passing of author Dr. Michael Newton, who authored several bestselling books, including Destiny of Souls, Journey of Souls,...

Demons and Pagan Gods: Re-evaluating My Stance
Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Aaron Leitch, author of several books, including Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, The Angelical...

Llewellyn's 2017 Witches' Datebook Llewellyn's 2017 Witches' Datebook
By: Llewellyn
Price: $11.99 US,  $14.99 CAN
Easy Tarot Easy Tarot
Learn to Read the Cards Once and For All!

By: Josephine Ellershaw, Ciro Marchetti
Price: $19.95 US,  $21.95 CAN
Wheels of Life Wheels of Life
A User's Guide to the Chakra System

By: Anodea Judith
Price: $21.95 US,  $25.50 CAN
Llewellyn's 2017 Witches' Calendar Llewellyn's 2017 Witches' Calendar
By: Llewellyn
Price: $13.99 US,  $16.99 CAN
Pacific Homicide Pacific Homicide
A Mystery

By: Patricia Smiley
Price: $15.99 US,  $18.50 CAN