Grimoire, Book of Shadows. All fancy ways of saying “journal”. A Book of Shadows is simply put, a way of keeping a record of what you have learned and what you have done as a Pagan, whether you be Wiccan or witch, Heathen or Asatru, Gardnerian or Alexandrian, solitaire or in a coven, and whether you actually identify as Pagan or not.
A BOS (Book of Shadows) can be handwritten by the light of the Full Moon in the ancient script of the Elven-kind, if you’re so inclined. Or, it can be typed, copied and pasted, and kept in a folder on your computer. I do suggest though not writing your book in Elven unless you are fully fluent in the language. Mine is kept on the computer, but also handwritten in notebooks specific for the purpose.
The first BOS I created was a 3-ring binder. I decorated the outer cover, duly put all the appropriate protections on it, and used it to record any work I was doing.
I liked using a 3-ring binder because pages can be moved about. It makes it much easier to keep things organised in a logical fashion. It doesn’t fit into my handbag nearly as well as a small spiral bound notebook though. A cheap 99p notebook works just as well as a journal as an expensive, leather embossed journal. I’m also more likely to record mundane thoughts as they occur to me in the cheap option, something I am more reluctant to do with a “special book” that in my thinking should be reserved for deep and important entries.
My second BOS was a simple spiral bound, blank, unlined journal. I wrote my craft name on the front along with a dedication note from my coven mother-teacher. These days, I’m more likely to go for the basic notebook. I pick them up when they’re on sale and keep one by my bedside and another with my amulets, drums, and rattles. I also keep a great deal of information on my laptop. This works especially well because I can easily add photos, paste in information I’ve found elsewhere, and as the need arises, more information around.
My book is a reference, a guide, a journal, a means of record-keeping. Within it’s pages I keep details of spells cast and the results, of rituals conducted with a note of the intention and any work done, I record dreams, divinations, thoughts and ideas. Basically, anything that I find important as a Pagan or a witch. I use this book to record what I have seen and heard during shamanic journeywork. I also record Amulet readings done for myself, and for others. These writings are very important for me as my memory is not nearly as good as I think it is. Even today I can go back and reread entries from a year ago, or a decade ago, and discover important details that I have forgotten.
It is very important that I take a few minutes to record details of journey and amuley work at the time, because even an hour later I will have forgotten parts of that work. When I do amulet readings, I use a journal to record thoughts as they come in a sort of modified automatic writing. I then go back and type the reading up to make it legible for the recipient.
The Do’s and Don’ts and Might Considers of Your Own Book of Shadows
You’re going to see all sorts of rules and laws and thou must do this statements about creating a Book of Shadows.
Let me tell you straight out. There are no rules, there are no laws, and there is nothing you must do to make your BOS your book.
Some things I have seen as “Must have in your BOS”:
A dedication page – If you want to write a dedication in your book, go ahead but it isn’t necessary.
Writing in a special language – Use your native tongue. If you cannot think and speak fluently in a language, do not write your BOS in it. You’ll just end up having to go get a translation dictionary every time you want to read it.
A protection spell of some sort – Again, go ahead and put one on if you want, but for the most part the only person who is going to have an interest in your BOS is you. Unlike the fictional spellbooks found on popular TV shows, a BOS has no inherent magic, no special powers. It’s just a book. An important book, but just a book all the same. Everything within those pages will have been put there by you, they will be of importance only to you.
Having said that though, it is considered to be bad manners to touch a witch’s tools, including their personal Book of Shadows. Always ask permission first.