I’m sure I’m not the only one who has fallen madly in love with the Book of Shadows from Practical Magic or Charmed. There’s something about old tomes, full of age-old wisdom and ink drawings that appeals to a witch’s heart. You just want to bury your nose between the covers and breathe in the wisdom.
Of course, real life Books of Shadows rarely look like they do in the movies.
What is a Book of Shadows?
A Book of Shadows is something Gerald Gardner included with Wicca, and it’s intended to be a ‘magical cookbook’ of personal spells. This isn’t the same as a grimoire, which is technically more along the lines of a ‘how to’ guide or text book. A Book of Shadows is a personal account of magickal workings.
Although the term ‘Book of Shadows’ seems to be a product of Gardner’s creation, it is something that appeals, and is useful, to the magickal community at large, and not reserved just for those who follow Wicca.
What does a Book of Shadows look like?
A Book of Shadows can take any for you choose: notebook, journal, ring binder, a blog, computer file, smart phone app, bits of paper strung together, or a book made especially for the purpose. Choosing your Book of Shadows shouldn’t be a case of keeping up with the Jones’s – if you like a practical 50p notebook then don’t worry that it might not be ‘witchy enough’. The journey of witchcraft should always be personal, go with what you like and can afford.
My Book of Shadows is a folder that my friend Wendy from The Year of the Cats sent me from America. It’s perfect for me because I can add or subtract pages as I need, and if I make a mistake then I can easily remove a page (I can be a little anal!). I also have many notebooks, half-filled with my crazy notes, scattered around the house.
What goes in a Book of Shadows?
What you include in your Book of Shadows should also be meaningful to you. That gives you a wide range, and admittedly, it can be a little intimidating if you’re new to a witchcraft orientated path.
Remember, it’s YOUR magickal cookbook and journal. It’s about YOU.
Of course you can write down spells or rituals you come across in book or on the internet, but add a little of your own flavour too. If there’s something you copied and tried, note the results and any tweaks you want to make.
My Book of Shadows includes mainly my ‘recipes’ of potions, lotions, powders and charms, with lots of scribbles and crossing-outs as I’ve enhanced my recipes. I also have my tarot keywords in a chart, a current list of the herbs and oils in my witchy cupboard, a novena to Saint Martha, and several pictures. I also have the following quotes, because they touch my soul:
“The place where light and dark begin to tough is where miracles arise”
“The moon is always jealous of the heat of the day, just as the sun always longs for something dark and deep”
Here are some suggestions for what you could include in a Book of Shadows:
- Magickal observations
- Information you don’t want to lose
- Divination diary
- Dream journal
- Magickal scrapbook
- Poetry, quotations or artwork that connects you to the Divine
How many Books of Shadows can you have?
You can have as many Books of Shadows as you like. You could keep one for spells, one for dreams, one for divination etc.
Keeping a Book of Shadows is a personal choice and you don’t need one to be a witch. Fill it with things that are meaningful to you and enjoy your book as it should be a pleasure, not a stress. Your unique and so too should your Book of Shadows be.
Do you have a Book of Shadows? Do you have more than one? What do you include in your book?