Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Krause-Loner, "Be-Witching Scripture"

Shawn Krause-Loner, in “Be-Witching Scripture: The Book of Shadows as Scripture within Wicca/Neopagan Witchcraft,” Postscripts 2 (2006) 273-292, describes the history, contents and ritual function of grimoires in Neo-Pagan/Wiccan practice. Through a review of their history, form and uses, he employs the three-dimensional model of scriptures to show that the Book of Shadows functions for practitioners analogously to how other scriptures function for their religious communities. Shawn argues that, despite the fluid and personalized contents of a Book of Shadows, its iconic status is rapidly promoting the textualization and fixation of this primarily ritual tradition. Thus the development of the Book of Shadows in contemporary Neo-Pagan/Wiccan traditions parallels the development and social function of the Torah in ancient Judaism, when it also evolved from an iconic ritual scroll to become a fixed text with authority over much more than just ritual practices. I find this conclusion particularly intriguing, because it shows the value of comparative scriptures studies by illustrating some of the models of scripture formation in antiquity with much more easilty documented contemporary examples.

The full article is available in .pdf from Equinox publishing.

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