It was a clear night and I had been waiting twenty eight days for this night, hoping that the British summer would be kind and stay clear and dry and the Goddess had responded to my wishes. Now I hoped She would also respond to my fervent wish for metamorphosis.
You see, I am a witch and for so long I have been trying to achieve something my ancestors had almost achieved and perhaps I had achieved in lives past. I wanted a temporary physical change, a change that would help me along the next step of my growth. I had been guided to an old Book of Shadows that had somehow gone unnoticed when I was packing away my late grandmother’s things and had only in the last 6 months been found again after being urged to look for something lost. It might seem a strange heirloom in today’s world but it had been passed from mother to daughter for as far back as I could trace my family tree, a few hundred years or so. I had read through it over and over, seeing the changes in handwriting as daughter took over from mother, seeing the progress of spells like a scientist overseeing the progress of experiments…
Sorry, perhaps I should explain what a Book of Shadows is. I suppose you could call it a diary of sorts, or perhaps a history book. It is a sacred book amongst witches. The matriarch, or the furthest female ancestor in a direct line, makes a book by hand. She takes an animal hide and tans it herself then cuts the hide to form the cover. Then she takes a sheaf of paper, which may also have been made by her, and binds it within the hide cover. The cover is then embossed or burnt or etched with sacred symbols. The matriarch then consecrates the book to her Goddess and her God in a ritual. She lays the book upon her altar, lights the candles to represent the quarters and the Divine, places herbs in her cauldron and burns them as an offering and to change her state of mind. Now she casts the circle thrice around her workspace, sprinkling sanctified water round once, then marking the ground with her sword then finally marking the air with her athame. This ritual is the first that is written by her hand in this newly consecrated Book of Shadows, writing only her coven sisters and her daughters would see. And I will not break that tradition. It is called a Book of Shadows for one reason only; a witch casts spells as shades, or shadows, of what she wants to see in this realm and the Book is a record of those Shades cast and the results so the descendants of the matriarch can learn from her mistakes. It is also a book that records the witch’s journey to the realm of shadows, or her meditations and communion with her deities. This particular Book of Shadows is large and heavy, covered in leather blackened by soot and oils and shiny from being handled, filled with dry and brittle parchment. It smells musty and dusty but it also holds the sweet scents of herbs and the cloying scent of rose water. Sadly there is only one more page free to be written on so I guess I must make a new one when I have filled this last page with the result of tonight’s ritual.
One spell in particular had caught my eye and that was one in which a witch could transform herself into any form she desired. A glamour spell with a seemingly impossible goal. The notes from the matriarch and down through the daughters all noted failure after failure. Not complete failure I should say, there were notes of whiskers growing on the face, nails hardening, eye teeth seemingly longer, changes in eating habits, changes in sleeping habits. The components listed for the spell appeared to have no hallucinogenic properties, no Belladonna or Aconite (which is fortunate as they are very hard if not impossible to obtain through honourable means), in fact none of the components were ingested by the caster. I had attempted the ritual 4 times now with absolutely no result, a complete failure and I was beginning to doubt myself and my abilities as a witch even though I had seen remarkable results from equally large spells before.
I have a notebook with me listing all the spell components and describing the ritual from the first “I call upon this watchtower” to the last “so mote it be.” I have the spell components, my altar (a large naturally rectangular granite rock in a little known spot in the woods close to my home), I have my sword, athame and wand, I have my cauldron and my pentacle, quarter candles, Deity candles, incense, water and salt. I am wearing my ritual robe of white and a circlet of silver upon my throat. I have tied to my arm fur which I brushed from my familiar and saved before he passed to the shadow lands. I have filed my nails, dipped them in oils and they shine as bright as the Moon herself. My hair is brushed smooth and is unbound, falling around my shoulders like a cape. I have cast the circle thrice about, the candles are lit and the incense is burning in my cauldron, the watchtowers are invoked and I am safe. I have chosen Egyptian deities to watch over my ritual tonight, I feel they are closest to the animal I wish to transform into. And finally, I have a figurine of Bastet in the centre of my altar resting upon my pentacle. All is set, let the magick begin.