Book of Shadows for Kids
I have been looking high and low across the internet for a Book of Shadows (or as we call them here, ‘Shadow Books’) for kids. I’m not looking for a ‘story book’, but an actual list of things to include that would be useful for kids – spells and simplified versions of things that I might have in mine.
Once upon a time, there was a series of printable books for pagan kids by Eliza Fegley available at sacredspiral.com. There were several basics – one on the Elements, one on the Magic Circle, and one on Seasons, I think. Now, that site re-directs to sacred-texts, and you can still find some of the other sacredspiral pages up (like the Pagan Patterns and Design book) but I cannot find those books anymore. (update: I did manage to find a couple of them on the Austin Pagan Kids site and linked to them from there).
So, (before I found them) like many people who can’t find what they’re looking for, I wrote my own versions: The Young Pagan’s Book of Seasons and The Young Pagan’s Book of Elements and Directions. They’re relatively simple in format and I just pulled clipart pictures to illustrate them. I am uploading free pdf versions of them for general use. They’re inspired by Eliza Fegley’s similar books, but I have changed them to reflect my own path and correspondences (which means that they may or may not work for you). I wanted something that was simple, but with more content than Eliza’s books since my kids are a little older. I think they turned out nicely! I am also working on a book for tools and am considering creating a kids’ tarot – but that’s a pretty big undertaking (but I did find the printable and color-able Hello Kitty tarot – too cute!)
While the traditional Shadow Book is hand-written, I don’t know many Pagans who keep that ‘rule’ as unbreakable. I don’t consider myself a ‘techno Pagan’ and still follow the old rules about not having electronics in Circle, but I do rely heavily on the internet and on printing rather than writing things that I add to my book. In my Teaching Circle, we regularly have printed hand-outs that we use and most people add them to their Circle Book of Shadows. With my kids, asking them to write out long lists of correspondences and associations isn’t practical. So I ended up finding some really good resources for my kids’ books and printing them. We’ll also add handwritten things, but as they’re interested with an eye towards personalization with drawing and note-taking.
One source I found years ago that I just love is the Pagan Moonbeams newsletter. At one point, it was a large undertaking with multiple authors, covering things like ‘Focus on Faith’, which explored different religions, ‘School Bell’, which is a homeschooling lesson plan section, and sections for ‘Wee Pagans’ and ‘Teens’, ‘Beginner Magic’ and ‘Middle Magic’. As many publications do, it has waned as contributors have drifted off but they are still publishing it and the archives are posted. There are many pages that work well in a child’s Shadow Book, including a section on creating a correspondence journal (or just print the pages). My kids are very interested in the dream signs and animal messengers so they’re able to look up the things they see in their dreams and make connections on their own.
As a parent, one of my favorite features of the PM newsletter is the Focus on Faith section. There were only a handful of them written, but the format makes it easy to research, write (and maybe submit) additional religions for inclusion in their books. I think that it’s my duty to educate my kids rather than indoctrinate them, and so we approach religion as a bit more of an academic topic than some do. I want my kids to be familiar with my faith, but feel free to choose something else and be knowledgeable enough about other paths to make the choice that is right for them.
Another great resource for parents and pagan kids is the Pooka Pages Magazine. It’s an online magazine that is published before each Sabbat and focuses on Elsie and her little cat, Pooka. Each issue has stories, crafts and recipes for your child to try, and has a section that is printable for your child’s Book of Shadows with spells or information about the Sabbat. In one issue, there is a Full Moon Esbat rite story that Winnie the Pooh and friends participate in (led by Tigger). It’s cute, and nice to read about mainstream animated characters doing thins that are ‘normal’ to Pagan kids!
There are also kids’ pages at http://austinpagan.com/kids/ – coloring pages, binder covers and spells/ritual information.
For my kids’ Shadow Books, I started with a 1″ 3-ring binder. That’s what I use for my books, and I like being able to add things into the proper sections and move them around when needed. Using a loose-leaf format also makes it easy to divide my binders when the time comes. I currently use 3 binders – one for my ‘working book’, one for Esbats and Sabbats and ritual/family information, and one for my Teaching Circle. Eventually, I’d like to consolidate everything into a ‘pretty’ scrapbook style boud-by-loose-leaf style book, but not yet.
Back to the kids’ books… 1″ binder. I included a ‘what is a Book of Shadows’ page that I found on Pooka Pages in the Imbolc 2010 issue. There’s also a BOS craft page so the kids can make their own books later on if they choose. Since we are somewhat secular, I included the 15 Guiding Principles of Secular Paganism. I also included the Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru, and the Golden Rule as it is explained in other various religions.
I included the books that I made on the seasons and the directions/elements (linked to above), and basic information on what ‘ritual’ is, the power of positive thinking, altars and making them, the poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, and some other ‘food for thought’ that were printed from the Pagan Moonbeams newsletter.
The next section is for magick and rituals. I included things that we’ve made together – dream pillows and other charms, and a birthday ritual, and some family rituals that we’ve done. Everything in this section is age-appropriate and written ‘for kids’. Several spells are also printed from Pooka Pages’ ‘A Little Book of Spells’ section. I also have a section with simplified information on each Sabbat and rituals that are associated with each of them.
Next, they have correspondence tables – moon, animal messengers (dream), dream symbols, planetary and vegetation alignments, gem & stone correspondences.
Then is a section on Gods and Goddesses. There are only a few here, mostly added as we come across them of if they ask about a particular deity. Some information is printed from the PM newsletter, too.
Up next is a section on divination – basic rune and tarot information. Since I read cards and my kids are familiar with seeing them, I included a section that is easy to understand for them. There is also a page on drum divination from Pagan Moonbeams.
Then I printed the Faith Focus pages from Pagan Moonbeams for the kids. As I have mentioned before, we choose to present all faiths and all paths as viable for our children, and equally respected. With that in mind, we want our kids to have information on different belief systems at their disposal. I feel that having this information included in their Shadow Books is a good way for it to be accessible without having to ‘ask mom’ and a good jumping-off point if they are interested enough to pursue research on their own. Though we did print the PM pages, I will be adding additional, similarly structured pages and hopefully uploading them here in the future.
These books are a work in progress, like most Shadow Books, to be added to and changed as the kids get older and things become more or less important to them.
If you’re a Pagan parent, do your kids keep a Book of Shadows? Did you help them, initially? What did you include, and why?