Once upon a time I was writing for Suite101. It was actually the start of the second round I had signed up with them. But, I didn’t see much point in staying. Basically just too little results for the amount of energy I had to put in. Yesterday I went back to check my account and I’m signed up as a writer but not allowed to post anything. I guess my login as a writer timed out as that was 2007. Anyway, here is the article which I had written for them. Deleted because it was written in first person, something that was not a problem when I wrote it but changed afterwards I guess.
TITLE: Starting Your Book of Shadows
SUBTITLE: Keeping a journal of your magickal road trip though Paganism.
SUMMARY : The Book of Shadows is a creative and practical way to journal your adventures as you explore Wicca, Witchcraft and Paganism.
BODY: A Book of Shadows or a Grimoire is your journal/ scrapbook about your explorations into Wiccan and Pagan ways. The Grimoire is a bit more of a recipe book, like a technical manual. You may decide to keep a Book of Shadows with all your experiences, thoughts and technical details or you may have both a Grimoire and Book of Shadows to separate the technical side.
Don’t make it a pressure cooker, something holier than thou you can only write in with perfect results. It is there for you to use, to keep track of little things and big things, great things and great mistakes. It’s a guide to where you have been and would like to go.
Don’t be intimidated by your journal, enjoy it and feel free to be creative. It’s not perfect, it’s not a symbol of your commitment to being Wiccan. You could even decide Wicca isn’t for you and look at other belief systems and continue to use the Book of Shadows, but call it something else to suit you.
The book itself needs to be something adaptable to grow and change along with you. A binder with removable pages is good. That way you can move them around and sort them into subjects or dates as you choose. In some cases you may have physical elements to add such as photos, clipped out articles, some sand you used in a ritual, a feather you found on the way home, a napkin you doodled an idea on… don’t feel limited to just what you have written on standard paper. If something doesn’t easily fit into the book format adapt it, take a photo or draw it.
Use your Book of Shadows to collect phrases and quotes that appeal to you. These will be great when it comes to writing your own rituals. Not that you want to copy someone else but everything that inspires you should be saved. A special turn of phrase, one that feels right or opens your mind and emotions is a great way to jump start your own words for your own ritual. Your Book of Shadows is documenting your adventures.
Don’t cheat yourself by taking short cuts like printing something from the Internet and leaving that as a whole package when it’s only something you have read and not something you have really felt or experienced. Do print something from the Internet and make notes right on it or on another page which you attach it to.
It’s a very personal book, this collection of your deepest thoughts and treasured moments, be careful about sharing it. If you are part of a group you might pick a topic and each person gives thoughts and experiences they have written in their Book of Shadows. But you aren’t likely to photocopy a page and hand it over. It’s not about keeping information to yourself as much as it’s about having a safe place where you can continue to be very honest and open with yourself about the things you are experiencing and thinking as you take the Wiccan path.