Long before the public inception of the Systemology Society, or even the Mardukite Research Organization, Joshua Free maintained an underground occult presence in the 1990’s as “Merlyn Stone.” Thousands of copies of his works began circulating during an era prior to the type of commercialized self-publishing and “print-on-demand” distribution prevalent throughout the “New Age” market today. At the time, it was still quite a prestigious feat to see hundreds of hand-made books reaching new readers each month—but what’s more amazing is that Joshua Free (then “Merlyn Stone”) was only a high school teenager. [This blog post excerpts portions of Rowen Gardner’s foreword to “The Witch’s Handbook” by Joshua Free/Merlyn Stone.]
Although it is quite common for writers to maintain an archival stock of unpublished notebooks and manuscripts, “The Witch’s Handbook” is unique for the fact that its existence as the “1998 Book of Shadows” is not altogether unknown.
But since it was rarely referred to and never officially circulated outside the personal contact of its author, we can now finally treat this complete version of the work as a “lost classic restored” more than two decades since its first underground presentation. It is also unique fro the fact that it is the only book ever written by Joshua Free dedicated exclusively to Wicca and Witchcraft.
Once intended a sequel to “The Sorcerer’s Handbook” by Joshua Free while writing as “Merlyn Stone” in the 1990’s, his “notebooks” composing the historically legendary “1998 Book of Shadows”—and eventually “The Witch’s Handbook”—were only released privately to members of his own Coven operating in Colorado, and other groups he networked with, during a peak period of development for the modern “New Age.”
Within these pages, you will also encounter the complete structure of the original century-old “Book of Shadows,” illuminated for the first time with a new revolutionary never before published presentation of concise descriptions and references that uncover influential sources behind-the-scenes of many contemporary Wiccan and traditionalist Witchcraft movements. It’s all here.
It is already established in other works that the “1998 Book of Shadows” was intended primarily for “Outer Court” or “training” purposes of the Elven Fellowship Circle of Magick and other networking groups; but Joshua Free also prepared and released each of the main sections—as it appears in The Witch’s Handbook—separate from one another as incremental installments throughout 1998 for inclusion in the greater body of the “EFCOM” Book of Shadows.
This premiere edition of “The Witch’s Handbook” is based on the original notebooks, offering far greater detail than the literal hand-written hardcover “1998 Book of Shadows” that was copied and circulated nearly a quarter-of-a-century ago. This special release is also dedicated by the author to Fairuza Balk and, as a bonus, features Joshua Free’s original tribute to “The Craft” movie, including a previously unpublished treatment of its practical witchcraft as “Nancy’s Book of Shadows.”