A Book of Shadows is an essential part of any witches’ toolkit. It provides space to record spells, rituals and correspondences, as well as doubling up as a magickal journal to record thoughts and experiences along your spiritual journey.
The format of the book is entirely up to you; a decorated exercise book may suffice, or if you really want to stay organized you could try a ring binder divided into appropriate sections. This way, you can file your notes in plastic pockets, which will prevent any spillages from damaging them. I have a notebook divided into three sections, so I can quickly find what I need. However, if you choose a blank book, you may find it beneficial to leave a couple of pages at the front and back to compile contents and index pages. As your Book will grow with you, you’ll find that these keep it organized and save you time searching through several filled books.
Nowadays keeping a written book isn’t the only option – a word-processing package on your computer can provide a flexible way of keeping a Book of Shadows, using different fonts and graphics to make it really personal to you. The benefit of this method is that sections can be added, modified or deleted as you progress, saving you having to re-write entire pages. A computerized Book Of Shadows can be saved to hard disk, or burnt to CD; many people also print out a hard copy to use during spellwork (after all, you don’t want to run the risk of getting candlewax or wine all over your high-spec laptop!)
However, you may find that the traditional method of keeping a handwritten book suits you best, as this way you more readily absorb the information you are copying, it will fill with your energies, and you will have a strong connection with the book.
There is no hard and fast rule to what has to be included, but below are a few ideas of things that will generally be found in a Book Of Shadows, as well as being useful for reference.
Rules – If you’re part of a coven, it’s a good idea to write down the laws you abide by. But if you’re a solitary witch, you could write down what personal rules you follow, or simply copy out the Wiccan Rede;
These Eight words the Rede fulfill: “An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will”.
A Dedication – This could be a few paragraphs explaining your journey so far, or simply a sentence of dedication to the Goddess.
Correspondences – Your Book Of Shadows is the perfect place to keep essential information for spellcasting. Some of the most useful are Phases of the moon, herbs, stones and crystals, colors and days of the week – all have different meanings and purposes. This gives you a quick reference guide to help you find the right times and objects for your spell.
Rituals – Perhaps you could include rituals for the eight Sabbats of the year, drawing down the moon (invoking the Goddess when the moon is full) and anything else you find useful, such as casting a circle and invoking the elements.
Recipes – If you’re feeling creative, try making and recording blends of oils, mixtures for incense, and recipes for celebratory food and drink.
Spells – Any spells you perform can be included in your Book Of Shadows. It’s a good idea to organize them into sections of purpose (eg. Love, prosperity, healing), or time of year if they are ritual-based. You should also include information on when the spell was performed, as well as anything significant that occurred during or after it.