There is a bit of difference of opinion when it comes to determining and describing what a Book of Shadows (or Grimoire) and Book Of Shadows spells actually are. This is partly because of the references to it in popular culture such as TV’s hugely successful “Charmed” series and the movie Blair Witch Project among others.
For example in Charmed, the three sisters heavily used their own family Book Of Shadows throughout the show and hence many people think that this particular book of shadows is the only one and merely part of the story.
To phrase it very lightly, a Book Of Shadows is a type of magical journal that plots the path, keeps record of and contains details of a witch, wizard or magicians progression throughout their life.
This journal can be the record of an individual, a group or coven and even a family. Contents vary but mostly they contain spells, rituals, observations, thoughts, reflections, creeds and stories and poetry.
A Book Of Shadows can also be passed on through the generations therefore having the potential to build up, record and acknowledge extremely powerful and magical ideas and items sometimes over centuries. Other times however depending on the secrecy of the owner, these books are purposely destroyed, usually by burning them so that no one else can get their hands on them. Personally I feel this is a tragedy and much magickal wisdom and important information is lost this way.
So for the most part, a Book of Shadows is mainly used for three things:
Most importantly, it keeps a record of all spells and the associated details for them. This includes how it is cast, with what utensils or ingredients, progress and results as well as ways to reverse or break down the spell in case things go wrong or its work is completed.
Secondly, a Book Of Shadows tracks magical and shamanic research. All magicians, witches and wizards are always researching and reflecting upon what they have done and what they are searching for and aiming to do.
Thirdly, it should help preserve the magick for the future. As said above, how awful it is when crucial information is lost or destroyed simply out of secrecy or greed.
So how should you make your Book Of Shadows?
One of the great things about these books is that they are so personal that they can be made in any which way you feel is right. It depends on your own personal choice and of course how you are treating the journal in the eyes of the future. As for the magick itself, a notepad, or ringed binder will surely work as well as any other volume however I personally believe that magick is special and a Book Of Shadows should have some allure, respect, appreciation and beauty.
For this, I feel an old style leather bound volume etched or decorated with your chosen symbols or Witches Creed containing strong, thick pages is best. Again, as we think The Lost Book of Herbal about the future, would you rather hand down a heap of notepaper in a binder or a volume filled with character and beauty that makes people go oooohh in wonder when they see it?
And what should go in it?
Again, this is entirely up to you! Of course it will mainly contain your Book of Shadows spells. These will be built up and added to over your whole life but in getting started here are a couple of ideas:
A good protection spell, a love spell, healing spells such as a good health spell or a remove negative energy spell and a good luck spell among others. These will get you on the right track and ensure you are giving out the right kind of energy and also protecting yourself from the bad energies.
Other common additions to your book are:
A copy of your chosen Witches Creed
Your magical name and the reasons behind why you chose it and what you are aiming to accomplish
A calendar that contains all sorts of important magical dates such as Esbats and Sabbats, Halloween, Yule and Beltane as well as your local and other important regional or international moon cycles.
Herbal Lore and other tables, appendixes or correspondences. This is very useful when detailing specifics regarding ingredients and items used in your spells and rituals.
Divination and Spell Casting is important to record so as to always be aware of what worked and what did not, what you are predicting and the outcomes of previous predictions.
As much as possible, your Book of Shadows should be handwritten, especially in areas of significant personal detail and the likes of your Witches Creed. It is OK to have typed or printed material in there but again, just for cosmetic value and to provide greater belief and authenticity for yourself and the future, hand writing is best particularly so if you are skilled in a nice cursive or even better, old styled calligraphy.