Let’s Talk Witch – Ever Wonder Where The Grimoire Came From & Why We Keep One?

Magic of Dragons

Ever Wonder Where The Grimoire Came From &  Why We Keep One?

The religious practices upon which Wicca is partially based were primarily an oral tradition passed down to neophytes by more experienced practitioners. It’s said that small groups of practitioners met in secret and would possess little knowledge of the whereabouts or practices of other groups. This was done for protection, so that if one group was discovered there would be no way for the members to reveal or disclose the whereabouts of other practitioners. Unfortunately, this fragmented approach has left us severely wanting in the area of verifiable information. It is very difficult to piece together the rites and rituals of an oral tradition when the practitioners are scattered and disjointed and few written records exist. Consider this excerpt from the Preface to the Book of Shadows as recorded by Doreen Valiente, who adapted selected works of Gerald Gardner, considered by many to be the father of modern Wicca:

Keep a book in your own
hand of write. Let
brothers and sisters copy
what they will; but never
let the book out of your
hands and never keep the
writings of another, for if
found in their hand of
write they may well be
taken and tortured. Each
shall guard his own
writing and destroy it
whenever danger
threatens. Learn as much
as you may by heart, and
when danger is past,
rewrite your book if it be
safe. For this reason, if
any die, destroy their book
if they have not been able
to for an’ it be found ‘tis
clear proof against them,
and “ye may not be a
witch alone,” so all their
friends be in danger of
torture. So destroy
everything not necessary.
If your book be found on
you ‘tis clear proof against
you alone and you may be
tortured. Keep all thoughts
of the cult from
your mind an’ say you had
bad dreams, a devil
caused you to write this
without your knowledge.
Think to yourself “I know
nothing. I remember
nothing. I have forgotten
all.” Drive this into your mind …

While this preface has never been proven to be authentic, it is certainly a fascinating representation of the threat of capture that many witches experienced.

When so much information is missing, it becomes our responsibility to rewrite the rituals and legends as they relate to our modern experience. We may never go back, only forward.


Judy Ann Olsen, A Witch’s Grimoire, Create Your Own Book of Shadows