How to Make Your Own Book of Shadows

Your Book of Shadows (BoS) is personal. You can make the entire book yourself or buy a book, decorate it and then begin creating the contents of your own Book of Shadows. However you start the¬†physical, actual book and however you decorate it – it’s what’s inside that counts.

A Book of Shadows can be for a coven, keeping the rules, rituals and history of the coven as it happens. Members of the coven will use the coven’s BoS to copy the rituals into their own Books.

If you are talking about more than one Book of Shadows you say Books of Shadows.

A Book of Shadows can be Hand-Written, Typed or on the Web

You can find great examples of online BoS as blogs. Many of them are abandoned, left online as an archive, not active but not deleted. Most likely they are forgotten, some may have moved on to another site or their own domain. Some just lost interest or the passion waned or they finished high school and had less time to keep the Book of Shadows going.

If you keep your BoS on your computer you can easily arrange it and save it to a DVD. You might use a journal program and keep it locked from any spying eyes with a password.

Consider a binder for your paper Book of Shadows – you can move pages around and keep everything in order by topic. Or, stick with the more traditional journal where you write things as they happen and keep your thoughts as they occur to you.

A paper BoS is nice because you can keep all your scribbled notes and rough drafts. They are nice to look through at times. You see your first and original thoughts rather than only your polished version of each ritual, idea and thought.

Add as many items from nature as you can. A few leaves in the Autumn, pressed flowers in the Spring and Summer. Squish a berry between pages and write around the resulting colour. Try a few ideas but watch out for the pages of your Book, keep them safe from harm too.

Your Book of Shadows style will depend on you and whether you see your BoS as a reflection of your personal journey or more like a text book of facts and information.

Extra Touches to Personalize Your Book of Shadows

Of course you can decorate your Book with clip art, your own art or drawings, things you’ve clipped out of magazines and apply like a collage. Add all the art you like to make the Book your own.

Use the title page to write your name, give the book a special title and write the date you started the book. Add details about the day: the weather, your mood, something good that happened, anything interesting.

As you begin to start your fresh Book of Shadows, write a Book Blessing. Make the blessing a dedication to your spiritual growth, your path of learning and protection for the information within the covers of your book.

If it suits you, write an invocation to the Goddess or Gods. I don’t do this, my beliefs are different.

Write about your choice to follow the Pagan path. How did you get here and why did you choose Wicca or Witchcraft?

Write about your ethics and beliefs as they are now. (Expect these to change, grow and waiver as you learn and discover more).

Write your own initiation, or an initiation for your Book of Shadows.

Sources of Information

Where the Wild Things Are: Writing for a Wiccan Topic

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, April, 19, 2004.

I have this twisted compulsion to take on more stuff than I can actually do. It’s a form of madness.

Anyway, now I am starting a new Wicca/ Witch site for a network called AIA (All Info About). Why? Because it’s there. Also, because I thought of an idea and then I had to put life into it. In other words, do it.

So, this is going to be a Witchy site for people who are Witches. Not looking for converts, going out of my way to explain or defend Witches or Wiccans. I wanted to call it “The Living Witch” but that didn’t work out with the format they use. So, I will use that somewhere else. I plan to set up a blog as part of the site. Something I can add bits of stuff to as I go along. My idea of a Book of Shadows.

The rest of the site is going to include sections like: a regional directory of Witch groups, traditions, art, career, romance and relationships, home and garden, environment, health and beauty, spiritual, holidays, and hobbies. I’m sure this will change as I actually get started and change my mind about what will work. But you get the idea, I hope.

So many sites about Wicca leave out the reality, the living of it all. How many times do you really need or want to see the same information about sabbats and rituals? Let’s see how it works together in real life.

If anyone has ideas or articles to contribute let me know. It would be nice to hear from you anyway. Later, when the site is up I will send the URL out with this newsletter. Likely this will integrate into the site too.

Take care,

Laura

Book of Shadows

Originally written for The Crying Clown Zine (c. 1998)

The Book of Shadows could be called The Book of Life. Just the opposite of the Egyptian Book of the Dead (A series of spells to help the dead travel to and exist in the afterlife.) The Book of Shadows (BOS, for short) contains notes Wiccans have made along their journey of life and learning. Grimoire (A book of magickal spells and techniques) is more Medieval than Book of Shadows but they serve the same basic purpose.

Essentially, the Book of Shadows is a workbook containing ritual patterns, rules governing magick, instructions for circle casting and banishing, religious rituals, the consecration of tools, herbal lore, herbal recipes, dreams, divination results and personal thoughts and experiences. It is the Book of Shadows, which keeps the traditions of a solitary or coven alive. Without the Book, everything would be passed on from word of mouth with the chance of being forgotten, lost or misinterpreted.

A coven will keep a Book of Shadows so members can record and memorize the coven’s rituals in their own Books of Shadows. Some contain lists of the pantheon, training exercises and initiation ceremonies. Books can be passed from one Wiccan to another, usually on initiation. Often each individual Wiccan creates their Book and keeps it to themselves.

Until recently, a Book of Shadows was always hand written. With all the advances in multi-media today a Book of Shadows can be a Disk of Shadows. Some Books (or parts of them) are published on the Internet. Typed and photocopied Books are also common. You may choose to have more than one copy or form of your Book. One can be hand written, the other can be preserved on a disk or photocopied for safe keeping.

To make your own Book of Shadows begin with any blank book. It does not have to be something antique or beautiful, a notebook from the dollar store will do. The Book of Shadows gains its value from the amount of energy and effort used to create it and the positive energy surrounding it each time the book is used for magick and rituals. A binder with loose sheets will let you move your pages around and add new ones in the middle if you need to.

Simply write in this book any rituals and magickal information you have worked on, learned about or just read somewhere and want to remember. Keep it organized into sections for rituals, divination, herbs, and etc. Add your own personal touch with some poetry, a few pressed leaves from your first ritual, a drawing which inspired you, or anything else bookable (able to fit into a book, one way or another). Also, because this is your Book you can write any thoughts you are having at the time. You don’t have to write to impress anyone. Keep track of your feelings (both negative and positive), questions you want to find answers to, and any other personal information you would write into a journal or diary.

Keep your Book of Shadows in good repair. Some rituals may call for placing herbs in or on your Book of Shadows. Prepare for this by giving your book a fabric cover or tissue paper between its pages. Keep this in mind when or if you want to decorate your Book of Shadows. Watch for decorations that might damage your pages or make your ink run. Put some thought into your decorations of choice. Though macaroni art may have seemed “funky” at the time, it might not feel the same when the lumpy noodles won’t let you keep your book open on your altar. Remember, your Book of Shadows serves a purpose. Make sure its usable when you are trying to read it half way into a ritual and you just can’t remember the line you wanted to say as you sprinkle eye of newt into your cauldron.