Phyllis Curott,
Book of Shadows
(Broadway Books/Random House, 1998)

Book of Shadows is subtitled "A Modern Woman's Journey into the Wisdom of Witchcraft and the Magic of the Goddess," an apt description of the book. It describes author Phyllis Curott's discovery of Wicca through a woman's study group in the 1970s. Her story is more than her spiritual journey; it also includes how her study of Wicca affected her personal and professional life.

Curott's begins this memoir in the '70s, while she is in law school. She has a series of disturbing and fascinating psychic episodes, and they lead her to intense study, especially of the goddess Isis, whose name pops into her head. After obtaining her law degree, these episodes slow, but remain part of her inner life. During this time of unconscious seeking, Curott holds a variety of jobs as a lawyer and band manager. While she is working in the music business, a friend introduces her to the women's study group that will eventually become her training circle in Wicca.

At first, Curott is very skeptical about witches in the 20th century. She has all of the stereotypes to contend with and a new job as an entertainment lawyer with a very demanding boss. However, the circle becomes a weekly safe space, where she can be herself and ask the questions in her heart.

The circle works through the wheel of the year, and Curott describes these rituals in detail and beauty. She also illustrates the power and energy in the workings of the circle. Her relationships with the women in the circle grow, and she gains a great deal of insight into the way energy and power flows within her poisonous office environment.

The book ends with Curott resolving her work situation in a very unique way, and the graduation of the circle from training to full coven. As a memoir, I found this book to be very interesting. I enjoyed seeing the way Wiccan training affected all parts of the author's life. It also had the personal touch that some "how to" Wicca books lack. This is not a "how to" book, though it does have an appendix in the back with table of correspondences, spell, charms and potions, plus a resources list. I found this book to be an entertaining read, a Wicca book with a personal touch. I would like to see more memoirs and biographies of this sort for Wiccans and pagans in general.

[ by Beth Derochea ]

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