What is a “book of shadows”? Do you keep one, and what do you put in it?
A book of shadows is a book that Witches use to document spell work, rituals, recipes for potions, and, really, any information the witch feels is useful to his or her practice. Some witches make their own book of shadows, some buy a blank journal, and still others have made the leap into the age of technology, and they record all their information on a computer.
I use a simple, black, blank journal. I have tried, and I seriously lack the talent to make an actual book. Now, you can also buy a pre-made blank book of shadows that is made to look all “other worldly” right in your local witchy shop. I went the very basic route and got mine at Target. Four dollars on clearance made me happier than a pre-made fifty dollar book that wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I can decorate this one any way I choose, or I can leave it with just the black cover it came with.
In mine, I record rituals I create, I make notes about rituals I attend that someone else created, I stick odd things within the book’s pages, like a slip of paper someone wrote instructions on for a ritual or spell, I write about important messages received in either a dream or a reading, and I write about special times that resonate with my witchy soul, for example, I documented the time that Barb and I encountered ghostly activity at a cemetery.
If you’re in a coven, each individual witch may have his or her own book, and there will likely be a coven book. Responsibility for the coven book is usually given to the priest or priestess.
One thing Barb and I did was we started a book of shadow for her daughter to give her as a thirteenth birthday gift. We included all the 101 basics Barb refers to below, and we left plenty of space for her to make it her own.
At the end of the day, your book of shadows is every bit as personal as the rest of your craft. It is not required to be any one thing or another.
How about you, Barb? What are your thoughts and practices regarding a book of shadows?
I handle my book of shadows pretty similarly.
At first, I had bits and pieces scattered through several notebooks, but, as you know, disorder makes me twitchy, so I got an inexpensive, blank book and started putting things together.
Unfortunately, there are some things from my earliest witchy days that have been lost, so it’s not a complete record. I have rituals, notes about various experiences, some drawings that I felt needed to be included, and small souvenirs.
I also feel like it’s a good idea to put a “101 section” in the front, with basic things like correspondences and holidays. You’d be surprised how often something simple like what colors go with the East slide right out of your head.
Other than that, go forth and create whatever kind of book speaks to you. It’s almost impossible to screw it up, and besides, worst case scenario you can start over.