I recently finished reading BOOK OF SHADOWS, A MODERN WOMAN'S JOURNEY INTO THE WISDOM OF WITCHCRAFT AND THE MAGIC OF THE GODDESS by Phyllis Curott.
I loved it.
It's a memoir of Phyllis Curott's spiritual journey and initiation as a High Priestess in the Wiccan community. Originally published in 1999, we meet Phyllis as a young attorney in Manhattan who follows a friend into a mysterious shop and unwittingly finds herself being invited into a women's circle or witches' coven. Phyllis is very skeptical at first, looking to historical texts to corroborate what she's learning in the circle, weaving in history and myth for the reader. She describes what happens in many of the gatherings, how she and her fellow members are affected by it, and what changes happen in her life as a result.
Meanwhile she's also working overtime as an associate in a firm specializing in entertainment law, which in the 90's is rife with sexism. I started my music business career in the late 90's in Austin and Manhattan, so I found this aspect of the book interesting and the sexist condescension, threats & roadblocks all too familiar. Her male-dominated workplace is a stark contrast to her experiences of growth, support and empowerment in her circle. I loved reading how she had to learn to navigate both worlds, and eventually integrate these seemingly separate parts of herself.
Witchcraft has been around for longer than we know but it seems to be experiencing another surge in popularity. I'm thinking of all the witchy things I see on Instagram: a young girl showing off a T-shirt that says WITCH on it, someone selling a bunch of pretty crystals, or a carefully designed photo spread featuring a deck of divination cards. Is everyone with a crystal or tarot deck investigating the deeper spiritual meaning behind it all? Maybe! Beyond the surface level trend there's a current of curiosity, and I suspect a lot of women have a yearning to go deeper.
Phyllis' memoir is a fantastic exploration of initiation and female empowerment. True female empowerment is still elusive in the critical mass. I've met a few empowered female individuals in person, but how many do we have in popular culture? In our culture, female empowerment is still met with mockery or mistrust, and is often achieved by developing masculine traits and subverting our more feminine energies. Power means more than sex, money and image. It means to know yourself, to commune with nature & her forces, to direct your own consciousness, to listen to yourself, to hold space, to shine your light for the benefit of all.
If any of this sounds compelling to you, I know you'll enjoy Book of Shadows.