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

Being a Solitary Witch (or Wiccan)

The solitary Witch, Wiccan or Pagan is alone by choice. There are many reasons for making this choice to be a Witch or Wiccan on your own. There are also lots of ways solitary Witches can share notes, talk and get new ideas from other Witches, when they want to.

Solitary Witches tend to be eclectic, they have their own vision and ideals for the path they follow. They don’t fit in with a standard coven based faith and beliefs. This is one reason they choose to strike out on their own and do things as they feel right to themselves rather than the larger group.

Some solitary Witches also like the privacy of keeping their spirituality personal. Once you start keeping a journal of your beliefs, your ideas, your thoughts and experiences, you may find yourself not wanting to share all of it. Some of our thoughts are too personal. If you share your Book of Shadows you begin to edit it while you write, instead of just writing from your heart knowing everything you write is just for your eyes only.

Of course, some solitary Witches just don’t like joining groups and prefer working alone.

How to be a Solitary Witch

Explore other paths, beliefs and ideas. I’ve read about Sea Witches, Garden Witches, Christian Witches, Druids, and so many others. I continue to read, research and explore. Look at other cultures and other religions too. Don’t close your mind; you might miss something great while you’re so sure you’re right.

Enjoy and appreciate nature, wildlife, wildflowers, gardens, trees and think green. Wicca is a religion about nature and Witches celebrate nature and the natural world. Find your love for it and celebrate what we have.

Keep a journal (Book of Shadows). Write about your discoveries, explorations and research. Most of all, write about your feelings, everything you’re thinking about – both positive and negative. Don’t be intimidated and think you aren’t ready for a real Book of Shadows. Any journal you keep is a Book of Shadows – there isn’t a rule that says you have to write about Witchcraft and Wicca alone or in any certain way.

Build an altar. It can be very private, small and personal or you can go forth and build something right on your front lawn. A garden is a great place to have an altar, an easy place to bring the four elements into. Earth, water, air and fire are routine in a garden, at various times. You can create an indoor alter and have it right on your desk or kitchen counter if that is your best space. Some feathers for air, some rocks for earth, salt for water and a candle to light for fire – that’s all you need for a start. Add personal touches as you grow into it.

Begin paying attention to the Wiccan/ Witch holidays and events. Honour them in your own way. Read more about what each of them means and their history. Pick a favourite, one that has extra meaning to you and make a real event out of it.

Become more aware of the Wiccan Reade, the three-fold law and the concept of harms none.They are all connected, saying the same basic idea in different ways. The idea is simple on the surface. As you consider it from more aspects it begins to get complicated. For instance, is it harmful to work against the free will of another, even if you are helping them? (This is why I don’t get into any spells. It’s a personal choice).

Don’t Set Yourself in Stone

Being a solitary Witch gives you endless options to explore. While coven Witches have to maintain a set of core beliefs to be part of the group, a solitary Witch can always be learning and trying new ideas, looking into fresh concepts and reinventing his/ her path. As a solitary Witch you can always do what feels right to you, without getting the approval from anyone else.

This does not mean there are no guidelines at all.

Being a solitary Witch does not mean you are free to reinterpret the Wiccan Reade. Harm none is pretty clear.

Don’t Buy Like a Witch Tourist

Don’t fall into the idea that you have to buy books, jewellery, tools, special clothes or anything else.

Look for what you want and often enough you will find it, at no cost or very minimal cost.

You can find Pagan books at thrift stores, second-hand book stores and the library. You an also find a lot of information online. Contact the authors of any books you find valuable, some will write back a real reply and even recommend fresh resources to you.

You don’t need to start buying tools, jeweled pentacles or custom clothing until you really know what you want and what will have real meaning to you. Don’t buy anything just because you think you should have it. That’s acting like a Witch tourist, someone who just wants to look like they fit in. Be true to yourself and only buy or collect the things you want for your own personal choice and your own needs.

 

Where the Wild Things Are: Teaching Pagan Ideas to Kids

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, February, 20, 2003.

What do you do with Pagan kids?

I think kids are too young to get started on the more serious side of being Pagan. Partly because they are too uninformed to make the decision to be Pagan versus something else. Also, calling themselves Pagan could become a problem with other members of the family or kids/ teachers at school. Most people don’t understand Paganism and thus they don’t trust it. Kids are a bit too defenseless in that situation.

That doesn’t mean kids can’t be Pagan too. Calling yourself Pagan is not being Pagan. What is being Pagan about, at it’s heart? To me it’s nature, the Earth, life, history, science, traditions and environmentalism. Is there any reason kids can’t be involved in those things, of course not. Kids just love to talk about the supernatural too, few kids don’t enough the spooky element of Halloween. You can add the facts about ghosts, Witches and such to their ghost stories.

Teach kids to appreciate nature, take them on walks outdoors, show them how to recycle and make it a priority to learn about history and science. Involve them in your rituals. Take them on a nature walk to gather leaves, stones, etc. Let them know what your altar is for, don’t make it a big mystery, but don’t make it sound too “weird” either. Get them started writing a journal, they don’t have to know it’s a Book of Shadows. Spend time with them, that’s the most important thing for any kids, Pagan or otherwise. Remember, they learn from you. What you do is what they see and what they believe.

You can introduce kids to the Wiccan Rede, the basic ideas behind Paganism and what you believe about Gods, Goddesses, life and death. But, make sure they understand not everyone shares your same beliefs. For one thing you want them to make their own decision about being Pagan. For another you don’t want them to be confused when they discover people who disagree with Pagan ideas.

Kids haven’t lived enough to have a deeper understanding and they don’t know how to protect themselves from those who think Pagans are evil, devil worshipping types. That’s the main reason I think I would just let kids see the heart of Paganism and introduce them to the body later. Likely, they will have had a life of living like a Pagan and it will be a very smooth transition to become Pagan officially.