A Book of Mirrors is another word for a Witch’s personal journal, with entries that document their spiritual awakening. It is highly recommended that you maintain a regular practice of writing down your thoughts and experiences as they happen. You’ll find this practice to be invaluable as you look back on your progress, and begin to see patterns and themes emerging. But most importantly, regular written reflections within a witching framework can teach critical thinking.
These entries are a ‘reflection’ of where you are along the way–a snapshot in time–but they become the mirror in which we can see ourselves more clearly. Like the moon reflecting the sun, this process helps bounce our conscious thoughts off of our subconscious depths, illuminating our path more clearly. In this article, I will provide the framework I created for myself and my students.
Critical Thinking Skills are a Witching Requirement
Since Witchcraft instructors won’t tell you what to think, it’s up to the student to apply the praxis, along with critical thinking skills, and derive their beliefs on their own. But our American society doesn’t teach us how to think critically – not unless you were super-privileged to attend a liberal arts college – so, unlikely. I’d go so far as to say that “critical thinking” is actively discouraged by public schools and mainstream religion. So, how is an adult witchcraft student to overcome this lack? Daily and periodic written reflections.
We recommend that our students complete two types of written reflections throughout their Year and a Day of witchcraft training:
- A daily reflection: like a personal journal entry that would record their daily lives in a witching context.
- A periodic reflection: that critically addresses their spiritual studies and practices.
Since witchcraft is an orthopraxy, meaning right action (rather than an orthodoxy, meaning right belief) it is imperative that we actually DO THE THINGS – simply reading the textbook and regurgitating it back at us, won’t cut it. Neither will mindlessly following directions without truly understanding them, and following the effects those actions have on our subtle selves. So, it’s going to be subjective. But you have to subject that experience to some scrutiny, otherwise, what is the point of doing it?
The course in witchcraft that my coven offers to seekers is divided into 8 sessions of 6 weeks each. Each session is neatly arranged by subject matter. So, we have a neatly defined regular interval, after which we ask that the student complete a special type of Periodic Reflection entry in their journal. They then share that with our instructors, so we can offer feed back, answer questions, and ensure that they are “doing the work” and making progress in a helpful direction. This is how we keep each other from careening off the rails.
Applications for Solitary Witches
But how could this apply to the solitary witch who, for one reason or another, is training themselves out there in the spiritually barren wilds? There are many excellent self-guided books now on the market. This is how I originally trained myself! Whether you have a mentor or not, it behooves a student witch to regularly check in with themselves, and their Divine Guides.
My recommended reading list to accompany our course includes five such books:
- Paganism: an Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions by Joyce and River Higginbotham
- The Inner Temple of Witchcraft: Magick, Meditation and Psychic Development by Christopher Penczak
- Wicca A year and a Day: 366 Days in the Craft of the Wise by Timothy Roderick
- The Outer Temple of Witchcraft: Circles, Spells and Rituals by Christopher Penczak
- Teaching Witchcraft: A Guide for Teacher and Student of the Old Religion by Miles Batty
Each one of these guides provides an established framework divided into intervals: sabbat cycles, lunations, or sections? It really doesn’t matter how you divide things, just that you regularly check in with yourself about what you’ve studied and experienced. We integrate the data and Personal Gnosis shared in all five works, which often-times contradict each other. That is the best part! It reinforces that there is NO ONE RIGHT WAY, nor even one right idea, there are only suggestions. Then you must form your own personal practice based on what works best for you.
So, the most important purpose of these reflection assignments, is that they offer a framework that we hope will spark that critical thinking process. It gives the student sacred permission to question everything they’ve read, heard and done.
Daily Reflections Assignment: Personal Journal
In your Book of Mirrors every day, make note of dreams, synchronicity, recurring numbers, etc. and then do a quick reference search to make notes of the metaphysical/occult meanings behind those things. Pay attention to see if that “medicine” applies to the goings on in your life. I suggest also making note of the moon phase, and which sign the sun is in at the time of each entry. For this, having a Witches’ Daily Planner or Astrological almanac for the year will be helpful.
For Example: “May 25, 2016, Wednesday, Sun in Gemini, Waning Moon
Dreamed of a Heron wading through the water, then saw one fly overhead as I drove to work.
Heron Medicine: Discernment. Speak your truth, even when it isn’t popular.
Had a tense moment with a friend this afternoon, but I didn’t back down and said what needed saying…it worked out OK in the end.”
Periodic Reflection Assignment: Academic Journal
After reading through the related subject material from several different authors, consider what you have learned. The framework for critical analysis that I use, breaks it down based on the inner and outer elemental mysteries found in the Witches’ Pyramid of Power.
Record your thoughts. It could be just a sentence for each consideration, or as much as you are inspired to document.
From Water: To Dare and Accept
How did you feel about this subject of the lesson? What emotional reactions to the reading material came up for you?
Which author’s position did you agree with the most and why? (sometimes they contradict each other) I encourage you to question everything, and critically weigh each new concept against both your own experience in the world, and your gut reactions and intuitions.
Which things are easy to “accept?”
Which things do you DARE to challenge? OR, are you challenged to DARE to overcome?
From Fire: To Will and Surrender
Which one of the many exercises that are offered in the reading did you choose to complete on your own? You need to choose a minimum of one exercise, or do as many as you choose.
How did you apply your WILL: what did you do? What prompted you to choose that one? What was that experience like for you? What worked, what didn’t, etc.
Was there any expectation, assumption, fear, or bias that has to be Surrendered?
From Air: To Know and to Wonder
What is the most important tidbit you learned from this lesson? What do you now KNOW, that you didn’t know before and makes a big impact for you?
Did you find anything in the reading that you REALLY disagree with? Why?
Now, ask at least one question of yourself, your Divine Guides, or your teachers?
What do you now WONDER about? Consider providing a quote of something that sparked some wonderment, or new interest that you intend to explore further?
From Earth: To Be Silent and to Resonate
Now that the work is done, stop and pay attention to what is going on it your life. Has this work affected your perception or actions in your daily life? Your dream life? Omens you’ve noticed, or other synchronicity?
How are you now applying this new information in a practical way?
What changed for you? What do you plan to do next with this subject or praxis to “resonate” its lessons into your life?
Moral of the Story: Just Do the Thing
Regardless of what you do, or how you do it, or what books you read, or who you talk to, unless you DO THE THINGS, you aren’t practicing Witchcraft. Avoid falling into the trap of empty religiosity by scrutinizing everything. Then record your thoughts and experiences along the way.
You can bitch all you like about how you hate writing things down, but I can back my position up with neuroscience. By picking up any analog writing instrument…say, a pen… and scratching out words in your favorite language, with your hand, on old-fashioned paper…using your body to SPELL out non-material thoughts, with SIGILS, which tap an egregore of power fed by billions over a millennium…forming words that transmute thoughts into form, embedding that power here in the middle world…you will create some much-needed change! Sound familiar? <cough<magick>cough>
This magick we call “writing things down” will create neurological changes in your actual brain. Digital formats, or using a voice recorder may create a record you could reference later, but the other half of this particular magick, is the change created physically within you as you write it down. Typing or listening, just doesn’t work the same way. Plus, witchcraft is quaintly anachronistic for reasons. So, get yourself a good pen and composition notebook, and get to scribblin’! <whipcrack>
Half our students resent the hell out of us for asking them to write things down. Some simply don’t do it, and I can tell the difference in their progress in a BIG WAY. No one ever said Witchcraft training would be pleasant or easy. Any witchcraft teacher worth their salt is going to ask terrible things of you at some point – like owning your own bullshit, and removing your head from your ass.
Ask yourself: If you can’t handle writing in a journal, what are you going to do when “defeating your demons” is next on the witching agenda?
Think about it! (critically, lol)