May the words in this book be my wisdom,
May the words in this book be my guide.

About


A Book of Shadows (BoS), or Grimoire, is a is a traditional book of magical practice, containing teachings and lore, rituals and recipes, spells and songs, and anything else suitable to the purposes the author has in mind.  Sometimes they are handwritten while in this modern day, you can find many on a CD or disk (Disk of Shaodws).  They can be either for an individual, a family or even a coven and can be passed down.



"GREAT GOD!  I'D RATHER BE A PAGAN SUCKLED IN A CREED OUTWORN; SO MIGHT I, STANDING ON THIS PLEASANT LEA, HAVE GLIMPSES THAT WOULD MAKE ME LESS FORLORN; HAVE SIGHT OF PROTEUS RISING FROM THE SEA; OR HEAR OLD TRITON BLOW HIS WREATHED HORN..."
-- William Wordsworth
 


 

MAKE YOUR OWN

So where do you begin?  We would all probably love to have a large, leather-bound tome with metal latches and buckles filled with parchment paper.  Though books like that are available, they are not cheap.  Truth be told any blank book will do, even an artist's sketchbook.  You can find many suitable notebooks at places like Barnes and Noble. Binders can be a practical choice, because you can move the pages around as your collection of information grows. Some very modern Pagans use a DoS (Disk of Shadows) and keep their material on computer.

So what do you write with?  Some want to keep a beautiful and traditional book, and think the best writing utensil is a quill and ink. While this may be a good idea, you don't want it to be too time consuming to take notes or record information. Your book just won't get used. A fountain pen is a good compromise, but any pen or pencil is fine.

What Goes in It? You decide. It can be  anything you want. Your BoS is a very personal book, and it is completely up to you what goes in. The kind of material tends to fall into 2 categories: reference or personal. Reference material may include words to rituals, poems, chants, songs, stories, even favorite quotations; vital facts about herbs; recipes; astrological or symbolical correspondences; moon phase dates, sabbat information, spells you might like to try, etc. You can find good reference material from books, the Internet or  members of your own coven, family or even friends that share your beliefs. Personal material might be a dream journal, poetry or artwork, results of spells you've done, recordings of astral work, chronicles of your experiences; ideas for future activities, etc.

Personally, I have two books. One is a large leather bound book with La Primavera etched into it with Handmade paper.  I also keep a smaller, pencil or pen written book for my personal notes, dream journaling, quotes, etc. It is a bit more informal and prone to misspellings. *smile*

If you have a teacher in a BoS-using tradition, he or she may allow you to copy items from his or her own BoS (or DoS), or may read aloud sections for you to write down. (There are strong injunctions in some traditions to never let your own BoS out of your own hands, so don't insist on borrowing someone else's BoS, and NEVER pick up or read one without the owner's permission!) Perhaps you have favorite passages from published books -- write them down. (Copyrighted material should not be republished or distributed... but this is your own private copy.) If you learn worthwhile things from ANY source -- write them down. If you get completely original ideas -- write them down. There is no One True Way to write a Book of Shadows, although a given coven's members may choose to follow a consistent format. If you do belong to such a group, remember that nothing prevents you from having more than one BoS, and the OTHER volumes can have whatever you want.

Don't let yourself get caught up in putting together the perfect Book of Shadows. If you start it and don't like how it's turning out, start another one. As time passes, you'll find it an invaluable tool.