A Book of Shadows can also be called a Book of magick, or a Magickal Grimoire. A Book of Shadows is very important for every witch or spiritual person to create, as this is essentially a book of records. These are personal notes, record your dreams/visions, a journal or your magickal experiences, your aspirations and affirmations etc. Simply put, a Book of Shadows is a book that is kept and used by witches to record research, thoughts, spiritual information such as spells, incantations potions and such as well as experiences.
Book of Shadows History.
As with most spiritual (if not all) texts there is a big debate as to where and how book of shadows came into play. There are those who say that the witches in the middle ages books were written in the runic alphabets simply to hide their majickal meanings. Some also say that witches during that time were illiterate and these books did not come into practices until around the 14th century. Even at that time RUnes were used to protect the owner of said book from persecution and death if it were found by witch hunters.
Since how they started is not 100% factual historically they have really had many names. The most famous is The Golden Grimoire which is one of the mythological versions of a majickal book. This is also said to have been the Book of Shadows of Merlin. Another book that is legendary is The Great Grimoire this book reportedly contains spells and incantations of the world’s first witch, this witch is said to have received magickal information from Lucifer (The angel, not the “devil”). The Great Grimoire supposedly contained all the information about God, this included his name of creation. It is said that when the name is said backwards, the world becomes undone. Riding the universe of the creature that is called man and returning to the heavens to the archangels. However, many educated scholars believe this legend to be the creation of the Catholic Church during the early 12th century. A mythological tale designed to cast darkness, doom and gloom upon anyone who practice paganism during this particular time.
The Book of Light and Shadows was a term that was found popular in the late 1800s. Around this time Aleister Crowley begin to publizcide many of his works on the Craft. The title alone was meant to reflect the spiritual information that was contained within, as well as, the spells and rituals that were to be performed at night beneath the moon
The world Grimoire became a popular label for these personal books during the Victorian era. You would see many a young woman resting in a park or flower garden writing thoughts, poetry and wishes in side a diary. If you looked closer you may have also found remedies passed down for generations. Elixirs and salves for illnesses and minor injuries. This is where the term Kitchen Witch came into the fold.
Nowadays the most common label for these personal diaries is simply a “Book of Shadows” this presumably contains spiritual information and energy that is to be kept hidden until a witch is ready to open the book and springs forth the words into the light. In reality it doesn’t matter what you call your personal magickal diary. It is important that you keep a record of all of your research, experiences, knowledge and information.
Starting Your Book Of Shadows
First start by deciding what kind of book you want to use. A spiral notebook is one favorite method. A three hole binder is another, making it easy to maintain sections for organization and adding pages as needed. Some people purchase hardcover stationary books at their local book store, making various volumes or collections of magikal information. The sky's the limit.
Whichever you choose, label the book and set its purpose and energy right from the start. You can record the title on the outside or on the page inside the cover whatever resonates with you. But it's the first thing you should do, after the title is date the book. Some witches create a new book at the beginning of each magikal year during Samhain. While others use the same book over a period of time until it's full and then they start a new volume. It's up to you which way to date your book, but you should enter a date and if possible a volume reference. This will help keep your books organized over the years.
Next, take some time and think of a personal blessing to record on the first page (or after the title page/table of contents). A book blessing is done as a dedication to your spiritual growth, your path of learning and protection for all of the information you have and the information you'll gain and record within the covers of your book.
If you find that the book you've chosen loses it's appeal, or isn't adequate enough for your needs, don't hesitate in finding a new one. It is important to feel comfortable and well, attached to your book. This gives the book energy and meaning within your spiritual life.
What To Keep In A "Book Of Shadows"
You can record as much information or as little as you want. Chose to use it as a daily diary to keep your thoughts recorded. Or you can maintain a couple of different books, separating your daily thoughts into one, research and magikal information into another, with spells and incantations into a third. Or you can make it where you have all of that organized in one whole book as chapters. It's entirely up to you. But keep in mind, you want your book to be well organized. You want to make sure your book, no matter how you set it up is organized. It is important to understand that you want to be able to quickly turn to a particular section and page to find some particular information when needed.
Here's a general list and suggested organization for your personal book.
Book Title and Date
General Index (make a few sections to help organize your book)
Magikal Rules and Principles
Write down your personal principles, beliefs, and/or magikal rules that you chose to follow and believe in. These are your values of life and spiritual path. They should be created from scratch each time you begin a new book. This way you'll be able to review past volumes and see how much you've grown.
Goals and Aspirations
Write down what your short term goals are. Include a date to achieve the goal and outline a few steps you plan to take in order to reach it. Then write down your long term spiritual aspirations, what you feel you need to work on and how you plan on succeeding. What you would like to achieve and by when.
Dream and Divination Records
This section is for messages you receive through dreams, or some type of divination. Either a reading you've given to yourself, or received from someone else. This is the section where you want to record your personal introspection and interpretations.
Here you can record all the research and particular information you receive along your path. You might consider organizing this into sub-sections in alphabetical order. Astrology, candles, crystals, Gods/Goddess, tarot and timeliness research could be some examples.
Classes & Experiences
Every witch should take a few classes or workshops on topics or subjects that you feel most interested in. Within all classes and workshops, you should receive some type of exercise or "how to" instruction. Record your experiences with these. What you liked, what didn't work and what you'd like to do differently next time.
Spells, Incantations & Prayers
Record the spells, incantations and prayers you find along your spiritual path. Those you like and even those you really dislike. There is a message hidden within words you feel very strongly against, write them down and note that you "dislike this one". Later when you have time, re-read the words and try to find the message hidden within for you.
Rituals & Ceremonies
Plan out your rituals and ceremonies. Record your experiences during or after conducting the event. Include your thoughts about what you liked, what worked well and what you'd like to change next time.
Herbal Remedies and Potions
These are your personal copies. They can cover various herbology information and copies to specific potions which are to be used in conjunction with a spell or incantation.
At the end of the year, or once the book is filled, save a few pages for a review and reflection of your book of shadows. Note the goals and aspirations you achieved, the reflections of what you learned during the research and practices you made. End this section with a blessing of thanks and gratitude to all those forces, seen and unseen that helped you along this journey and with the lessons contained within this volume.
There is so much more you can add to your book, this is just a compiled list of what I personally do and what I have found on various websites over the years.
Do you have a Book of Shadows?