A Book of Shadows is a book containing religious texts and instructions for magical rituals found within the Neo-pagan religion of Wicca. The first Book of Shadows was created by Gerald B. Gardner, (an author as well as an amateur archaeologist and anthropologist), in the late 1940's or early 1950's, which he used in his Bricket Wood coven and then in later covens which he founded. The concept was adopted by other traditions. The current Book of Shadows is a compilation of manuscripts found in his museum after his death.
Gerald Brosseau Gardner (author and amateur archaeologist and anthropologist) was born in 1884, at Blundellsands, Lancashire, to an upper middle class family. Much of his childhood was spent abroad in Madeira, (a Portuguese archipelago). In 1900 he moved to colonial Ceylon, (now Sri Lanka), and in 1911 to Malaya where he worked as a civil servant. While there he developed an interest in the native peoples and wrote papers and a book about their magical practices. After retiring in 1936, he settled in New Forest, (the south of England) and joined the occult group, the Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship, through which he claimed to have encountered the New Forest coven into which he was initiated. He believed the coven to be a survival of the pre-Christian Witch-Cults as described in the works of Margaret Murray. He decided to revive the Old Faith, adding to the Coven's rituals ideas borrowed from Freemasonry, ceremonial magic and the writings of Aleister Crowley. From this he formed the Gardnerian tradition of Wicca. He was known by the craft name of Scire. He died in 1964.