For me the practice of calligraphy is the most important part of creating the book of shadows. What I find so interesting about this is that it was obviously inherited by the Irish monks from the Celtic pagans. Monks created the Book of Kells, a gorgeous collection of medieval illuminated manuscripts. The idea was that by practicing calligraphy and creating these manuscripts the monks could meditate and metaphysically be with god. I hear a lot of criticism of Christianity and I wonder if it is really fair to do this. Pagans didn’t commit atrocities to level of Christians, and it was unfair how they treated the Druids, but the contributions Europeans have made in the name of god are exquisite. You don’t have to be a Christian to appreciate Mozart or DaVinci! Some people also forget that Christianity has a level of magic to it as well.
I wish more people knew what the pagans had contributed as well, and this is where our school systems really rob us. Viking runes have been left untouched, most of them in Sweden, but you can find them in Iceland and Norway as well. Unfortunately the old temples are gone. Part of the reason for this is because they made them out of wood, but the main reason is the high level of intolerance from the Christians. We do have Gardners works along with Aleister Crowley and Austin Osman Spare.
Sigils are ancient symbols that luckily have been passed down to us. It’s not hard to make a sigil, you connect three to five symbols to represent the spell you are using. I like to buy witches almanacs, they have a spell a day calender, although I have to admit sometimes it is hit or miss. The best thing is writing spells for yourself. I think some people are attracted to spell work for revenge reasons, and we have to keep in mind the law of attraction. Whatever malevolence you cast out into the universe will come back three times as strong. We should use spell work for healing ourselves and loved ones.
To learn more about the conversion of Irish pagans and Druids into Christianity I would read Confessions of a Pagan Nun by Kate Horsley. She is historically accurate, and the magic used by the druids isn’t what you would watch in Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, but actual try’d and true spells like breathing incantations onto stones to etch words into them, gathering herbs to make remedies, and memorizing stories. It is written in first person narrative. Keep in mind there isn’t that much known about the druids except what the Roman historians had written about them, but this is as accurate a story you will get.
There are a lot of historians who like to depict early medieval ages as primitive and a time of darkness, to which I must say they are mistaken. In fact part of the problem of Christianity and Islam is the intolerance for freedom of expression. For example they disparaged Galileo’s findings even though he was right. This type of intolerance we find in judeo-christian and islamic religions is a hindrance to technological and scientific advances, thankfully Christianity and Judaism went through enlightenment periods, Islam has yet to do so. The pagan practice of collecting herbs is really the earliest attempt at creating medicine, not so primitive in actuality.
Parzival is a medieval German epic that espoused tolerance between the Pagans and Christians. Too bad this mentality wasn’t more popular, it would have saved a lot of lives and lead to a richer history.