A Book of Shadows is a journal of sorts where witches can keep track of their magical workings and spiritual journey. A grimoire is a similar text but generally less personal and may be passed down or shared within a coven or family. Some people use these words interchangeably and definitions vary. In any case, it is a very handy resource if you ever want to replicate past rituals, check the progress of a spell, or build up habits and traditions. (Or write a blog about all the magic you’ve been practicing for years!) But how do you decide what goes in it and what doesn’t?
First, you need to decide on your organization system. Will it be a traditional bound journal or a binder with removable pages so that you can group things by content instead of just chronologically? I use the former, although I can definitely see the perks of the latter. I always, always, always put the date nice and big at the head of each entry. This is the main way I find old entries, check how long ago I performed a certain spell, look back on what I did for a certain sabbat last year, etc.
Then, decide what you want out of it. Will you treat it as a diary, writing down anything and everything that relates to your practice of magic? Or would you rather something more bare-bones and polished, containing only finished spells and fleshed out rituals. I go for more detail over less, and it’s always interesting to read through past entries and see my spirituality taking shape. I write mostly during the Wiccan holidays and have filled up three-and-a-half books over the past nine years.
Here are some things I keep in mine:
- Notes I took while studying various books on witchcraft when starting out
- Lists of the crystals I own and what powers I have charged them with
- Lists of herbs that grow near my home and where to find them
- Spells I designed and the date I performed them
- Instructions on how I will celebrate each sabbat each year
- One pressed flower and some drawings of flowers with magical uses, tucked between the pages
- Incantations and rhyming phrases that I use in rituals
- Poems inspired by Wiccan myths or holidays
- Musings about spiritual topics. This really helped me work through ideas like reconciling Judaism and Wicca, and whether I believed in the Wiccan concept of reincarnation.
Do you keep a Book of Shadows or grimoire? What do you write in it? If you don’t, what would you write?