The ‘Book of Shadows’, although intimidating, hold nothing more than a witch’s spellbook, ritual journal, and a collection of one’s spiritual journey. It holds all personal experiences and moments of enlightenment. Regardless of whether it is written on a beautifully bound notebook or typewritten on a computer, a book of shadows play a major role in witches’ practice.
The meaning behind the ‘Book of Shadows’
The book of shadows is not a possession only reserved for witches who practice dark or shadow magic. The term is born from past witches’ history, during a long time ago when witches were condemned and persecuted by religious communities. The word ‘shadows’ represents the sacredness and secrecy of each spellbook. In the early times, spell books were even made with special codes and alphabets that only witches could understand. Books were either burnt along with the death of their owner or passed on to the next generations. Today, although some witches still prefer their book of shadows as a private possession, a lot of spell books are shared among other practitioners through printed books and blogs by others.
Grimoire vs. Book of Shadows
Another common misconception is the similarity of a Grimoire to the Book of Shadows. While it is actually quite similar, a Grimoire is a more public version of the BOS. A BOS is more personal, like a diary or a journal that includes records of one’s magickal workings. On the other hand, a Grimoire is a collection of ritual how to’s, including general spell research, crystal magical properties, and herb correspondences.
How to start your Book of Shadows
First of all, there is no standard rule in starting your book of shadows. It is common for a beginner witch to think that a BOS should readily have spells in it even if you are not in that stage just yet. Your BOS may simply be a companion to your magical practice. If you got that, we can move on to the next steps ahead!
#1: Prepare your journal
Your BOS can be any notebook you see lying around the house or the common ones you see at the stationery section of your local shops. If you’re feeling extra, you might want to get a beautifully bounded journal, like the leather ones, or anything that simply lights you up every time you see it. Also, it matters that if you like the paper you’re writing on so a little research helps before ordering or buying a journal for your BOS. If you’re not into journaling or storing hard copies, you can opt for an alternative, such as a tablet or a computer. Prepare your tablet or computer BOS by making a secured folder and storing it where it is less likely to be opened by other users.
#2 Identify where you are in your practice
The witchcraft practice is very diverse and you have to know what sets you apart from the whole community or what niche you belong to. Of course, not all witches can solely be one type of witch (e.g. kitchen witch). Some witches prefer to be kitchen witches and green witches. Others can be kitchen witches and hedge witches. Now, note down everything you know about the practice, including spells, rituals, and notable correspondences. This helps you keep track of what you already know. Later on, you can list your curiosities and continue moving forward with the practice.
#3 Cleanse and bless your book
Blessing your book with a consecration or protection spell is essential to keep unwanted energies and negative people from this sacred possession. You may write it down on the first page of the book or visualize it with the help of cleansing tools such as sage or self-cleansing crystals like selenite.
#4 Do your magic
Below are some of the things you can make of your Book of Shadows.
Wheel of the Year Reflections
In a year, there are eight sabbats to look forward to, including the following: Imbolc (Feb 2), Ostara (March 20-23), Beltane (April 30), Litha (June 20-23), Lammas (August 1), Mabon (September 20-23) and Samhain (October 31). Each Sabbat is an opportunity to reflect on one’s spiritual journey with the energy each season of the year holds.
Although Tarot reading is usually companioned by the help of written guides, Tarot can be redefined by witches in their practice using their own context. If you come across a card in a reading, you can record how you felt by adding it to your BOS until you complete all 78 cards. Now, if you feel blocked during a reading in the future and written guides just don’t feel right, you can always check your book of shadows.
If you do daily divination practices, make use of your BOS to record and keep track of your meditations, manifestation rituals, visions, and Tarot readings.
Full Moon Journal
What most witches do not know is the fact that full moon journaling is as important as self-reflection. Full moon holds strong reflective energy that encourages self-awareness and brings forth opportunities after you have cut ties with habits that blocks you from achieving a peaceful, bright, and joyful life. Journaling brings about subconscious thoughts, both negative and positive, which you can finally release and be aware of.
Depending on how you like your Book of Shadows to be, adding separators, such as bookmarks, can easily make your BOS organized. Somehow, it also makes it easier to follow a practice if you can readily see where you left of. If you also prefer to keep a mix of everything in one notebook, that’s no problem at all. What makes witchcraft open, unique, and inviting is the fact that you can be who you are and do the practice your own way.