This post looks at what a book of shadows is and why you need one if you are practicing witchcraft. It also includes advice on what to include in your own book of shadows as well. Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. For more information about what this means, please click here.
A book of shadows
Also known as a grimoire, spellbook, or magical journal. Often portrayed in film as a thick, dusty old book with fancy writing, symbols, and magical locks to stop others from getting inside. The reality is much more versatile. In its simplest form, it is a place to record your spells and other correspondence that you want to remember such as uses for herbs and crystals.
A book of shadows can be as simple or complicated as you wish. It can be a basic record with no decorations or it can be a work of art. The key thing to remember is that it is yours. Therefore, you decide what you put in it and how you use it as it is unique to you. Some people have two, three, or more books for different things, while others have a one book fits all mash-up. I recommend using two, which I will go into more detail about throughout this post.
If you are practicing witchcraft then you really should have some form of a book of shadows to record the things mentioned above. No one can remember everything (unless born with an Edenic memory!).
Deciding on the format
To start with you need to decide what sorts of things you will record in your book and if you are using one or more as this will help you choose your format. I have a book of shadows where I record correspondence and spells. However, I also wanted to record more day-to-day aspects such as what magical practices I have done, and thoughts on things that I have read. Therefore I also keep a magical journal as well.
Once you have decided what you will be recording, you can now decide on what you will use. You could use a notepad and decorate it yourself or purchase one that you are drawn to. When using a notepad, think about if you want blank pages, lined or graphed. If using a bound book, you will not be able to move the pages around so that is something to think about as well.
Another option is to use a ring binder. With this, you can move pages around and add dividers to section off parts of the ‘book’. This is also useful if you are planning on using free or purchased pages which I often see advertised. Whereas in a notebook you are more likely to handwrite inside.
A more modern approach could be to create a digital book of shadows. This could easily be achieved using any word document software and you could have folders of different sections. This is useful if you are traveling a lot as well as you can access it from anywhere.
Suggestions for things to include in your book of shadows
As mentioned earlier, there is no right or wrong when it comes to the contents of your book of shadows. This list is just an ideas list that may help you plan your content.
- The Wiccan Rede for Wiccans or a poem or incantation which sets the theme for the book.
- An index so you can quickly find what you are looking for.
- The wheel of the year and information about the sabbaths.
- Moon phases
- Your own astrology signs
- Crystals and their uses.
- Herbs and their uses.
- Candle colours and their magical significance.
- Tarot spreads
- Notes on when you cast a spell and what the outcome was.
- Incense and their properties.
- If you work with any deities then you may want to record information about them in the book as well.
- Dreams you have had and what they could mean
- Divination sessions such as tarot cards
- Notes from books that you have read
Make it your own
You can choose how much decoration you want in your book of shadows. You may just want print outs or black and white text. If that is how you want it to be then that is absolutely fine. However, if you want to add colour and pictures then that is fine too. You could draw pictures or even stick in photographs and add stickers like a scrapbook.
The main point is that you are happy with it and you can use it when needed. There is no point having a work of art in a book which cost a lot of money if you are too scared to write in it or have it open when casting spells, as it would not be functional or helpful to you at all.
If are you new and not really sure what you want to include or how you want to set it out, why not buy a cheap notepad and just play around and practice until you know what you want. You can then transfer anything that you want to keep over into your proper book once you are ready.