A Book of Shadows (BOS) is a very personal item. It can be written as a journal, recording your thoughts, feelings, spells and recipes and how they turned out or it could simply be a place to keep all the things that have sparked an interest in you. The BOS can also be referred as a Grimoire, but this is more often just used for spells.
My first Book of Shadows (sadly now falling to pieces) was a large hard backed notebook. I divided it roughly into sections by use of sticky notes. I filled the first section with all sorts of basic info, facts and phrases that I thought I needed to know to be a good Pagan/Witch. Much of this was things I had printed off the computer, cut out and stuck in.
Some pages had information about the Sabbats, moon phases, elements and the meanings of pagan symbols. Other pages were more personal to me such as a page dedicated to everything associated with my birth date, like my Celtic birth sign, birth flower, birth stone and all the other info I gathered. This got added to with little sayings that I saw and liked, with doodles and sketches. The sayings soon became quite a major part of this section. If ever I felt down I’d just go and look at my BOS and instantly have my mood lifted.
I also had a section of Spells, one for herbs, remedies, essential oils, crystals and divination. All with my printed cut outs, hand written things and my own little doodles. I loved that book and still do.
Some years after I started my BOS I met and became friends with a lovely lady who is also pagan and shares lots of similar interests. As we were sat having a cuppa one day, she asked if I would like to see her “Grimoire”. I was delighted! Her Book of Shadows was absolutely beautiful. It was all very neatly laid out, everything in order with lots of factual info. She really could put this book into print just as it is and it would sell. It was all hand written and illustrated. The edge of the pages were all coloured, to define the different sections. Everything you could want to know was in this beautiful hand bound little book. I held and read this book in total awe. It was Perfect!!
I have often read that your BOS should be ALL handwritten. Well, I kind of had to cheat on that one. I have trouble writing as it causes quite a lot of pain in my hand, arm and shoulder due to an old injury caused by a road accident. Plus I have to confess it’s boring hand writing everything and I have never had good handwriting anyway ! Well they are my excuses and I’m sticking to them. So if I can type and then print…….. seems logical to me. I have read many things about what your Book of Shadows should and shouldn’t be and well mine, was ermm … my own interpretation! It was quite some months before I set before my friend my “quirky” hard backed BOS notebook, with it’s different coloured scruffy writing, stuck in printouts, lack of order, odd little phrases, sayings and many doodles!
To my surprise my friend was fascinated and told me she loved it, as it was so personal to me and no one else. I like to believe she meant it and wasn’t just being polite. She has since started her own more personal version, which I hope I have inspired. I too have started a new Book of Shadows after Hubby bought me a beautiful hand made book, especially for that purpose. I have tried to make it neater and more traditional but it’s not really me and eventually I just lost interest. So I went back to my own way of creating my BOS. It maybe different, a bit disorganised and definitely not perfect but it has lots of inspiration, the right intentions and lots of happy hippie things … a bit like me ;-).
So if you want any advice on writing your own Book of Shadows, I would definitely encourage you to just do it your way. If you want to be traditional, be traditional. But if you want it to be personal, make it uniquely your own. If you see something that you love, that inspires you or just something you want to remember, use it! Print, hand write or both. It’s your book!
If you are stuck about what to add to your Book of Shadows or Grimoire, here are a few suggestions:-
- Spells, incantations and prayers
- How to cast and close a circle
- Sabbats and other important dates
- The wheel of the year
- Moon phases
- Rituals for sabbats
- Crystals – Meanings and uses
- Herbs and their magical uses
- Herbal remedies
- How to dry herbs
- Recipes for cooking, tinctures, salves, lotions and potions.
- Candle colours and their meanings
- Sigils and symbols
- Witches Alphabet
- Runes and their meanings
- How to Scry
- Recording readings
- Things that are personal to yourself such as birth stone, zodiac, totem animal etc and their meanings
- Gods and Goddesses that interest you, what they represent and what their powers are
- Inspirational quotes
- Altars, how to set up for different occasions
- Magickal tools
The list is endless and will be very personal to you. Pick the things that interest you most. Make it to suit you.