Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Teen Book of Shadows: Star Signs, Spells, Potions and Powers (Book)

The Teen Book of Shadows: Star Signs, Spells, Potions, and Powers (Book) Release date: 2004. Author: Patricia Telesco. Publisher: Citadel Press. ISBN: 9780806524108.

Plot summary: The purpose of this book is to act as a guide for teens who are interested in learning more about Wicca, magick, or becoming a witch. The book is divided into chapters, beginning with the history and overview of wicca, magick and witches. The second chapter instructs readers on making their own “Book of Shadows” which is essentially a magical diary where witches keep a record of their spells and charms as well as their journey with magic. The guide lists quite a few things that can be recorded in your own Book of Shadows including prayers, visualizations, divination methods, herbal recipes, favorite quotes, dream work, potions, festivals and gatherings, and magical self-defense. The next two chapters cover getting started and list spells, meditations and visualizations for witches to try. The chapter on getting started does include some typical witch tools like a cauldron, candles and a broom but also some more unusual items like a horn and knots of string or rope. The spells are all positive in nature (there are no curses or hexes) and typically involve the saying or chanting of words while holding an object. This will empower the object to be used at a later time. For example in the “Friendship Key” spell, witches are to gather an old key and rub it with lemon juice. The juice acts as a way to attract the right people, and the key opens doors for friendship. To empower the key the following incantation is recited twice: “Open the way, open the way, friends to find by night or day, those who will listen, the ones who’re sincere, those who are fun, from out of my peers, when I touch this Magick key, by my will this spell will be freed!” (103). The witch then takes the key with her and mentally recites the incantation to release the magick. The final chapters deal with star signs, divination, feng shui and magical rituals. Star signs are the typical astrological symbols and the chapter on divination offers many methods for looking into the future. Magical rituals are special ceremonies different from those spells that are conducted on a daily basis.

Critical evaluation: Even for those readers who are not interested in practicing Wicca or becoming a witch themselves, The Teen Book of Shadows is a very interesting and often informative read about a form of religion that has been practiced for centuries. The book is very much geared towards teens. The author frequently refers to “people your age” in describing the potential applications of Wicca, talking about typical teen problems like making friends, getting bullied, or entering into romantic relationships. The majority of the advice provided is not particularly fantastical in nature. All of the spells involve common household objects and chanting incantations. Whether these things, or anything in the book for that matter, actually works is another story. Belief in Wicca aside, the power of suggestion alone could potentially cause teens to feel more confident, for example, when believing they have released magick that will help them do so. There is also a lot of history in the book that is quite interesting to read. Telesco discusses the various denominations of Wicca, how some, but not all, Wiccans have polytheistic beliefs, the history of the pentagram and more. While it will certainly receive a lot of criticism from religious individuals, there is no mention of “the devil” or “Satan” in the book. There are also no hexes or curses that people often associate with witches or Wicca. Overall, the book is very interesting and entertaining for teens who want to learn more about the subject matter.

Reader's annotation: This book acts as a guide for teens who are interested in learning more about Wicca, becoming a witch and common practices and rituals for those who practice magick.   
About the author: Born in 1960, Patricia “Trish” Telesco is an author and Wiccan priestess. In her career as an author, she has written over sixty books about Wicca, magic, self-help and religion. She was initially self-educated about Wiccan beliefs and practices but in later years was initiated into the Strega tradition of Italy. She is now a trustee for the Universal Federation of Pagans and continues to write works about her beliefs. Some of her books include The Cyber Spellbook: Magick in the Virtual World (2000), Futuretelling: A Complete Guide to Divination (1998), Kitchen Witch’s Guide to Brew and Potions (2005), The Language of Dreams (1997), Mirror, Mirror: Reflections of the Sacred Self (1999), The Teen Book of Shadows: Star Signs, Spells, Potions and Powers (2004) and The Witch’s Book of Wisdom (2003). She lives in New York with her husband and two children and regularly gives lectures and workshops around the country. (

: Non-fiction

Curriculum ties:
History of witchcraft/magick/wicca

Booktalking ideas:
Impact of Wicca on society
Truth behind the teachings of Wicca

Reading level/Interest Age:
Grade 8 and up.

Challenge issues:
Conflicts with several religious dogmas that view Wicca as demonic or Satanic

Challenge counterpoints:Recommended for grades 8 and up.
Recommend parent look through book and decide if suitable for child.
 Recommend parent and child discuss book with religious leader.
Remind parent that there are many different religions practice regularly in the United States that don’t necessarily agree with one another.

Reasons for inclusion:
From prolific and award-winning author.
Fills hole in collection (not many books available about this subject for this age group.)  

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