Witchy Wednesday: Book of Shadows

The Book of Shadows (BOS) is used to store information you'll need in your magical tradition. Many Pagans and Wiccans feel a BOS should be handwritten, but some use a computer to store information as well. Bear in mind that a BOS is considered a sacred tool, which means it is an item of power that should be consecrated with all of your other magical tools. Copy spells and rituals into your BOS by hand – this will not only transfer energy to the writer, but it also helps you to memorize the contents. Make sure you write legibly enough that you’ll be able to read your notes during a ritual!

Here's How: To make your Book of Shadows, begin with a blank notebook. A popular method is to use a three-ring binder so items can be added and rearranged as needed. If you use this style of BOS, you can use sheet protectors as well, which is great for preventing candle wax and other ritual drippings from getting on the pages! Whatever you select, your title page should include your name. Make it fancy or simple, depending on your preference, but remember that the BOS is a magical object and should be treated accordingly. Many witches simply write, “The Book of Shadows of [your name]” on the front page.

What format should you use? Some witches are known to create elaborate Books of Shadows in secret, magical alphabets. Unless you’re fluent enough in one of these systems that you can read it without having to check notes or a chart, stick with your native language. While a spell looks beautiful written out in flowing Elvish script or Klingon lettering, the fact is that it’s just hard to read unless you’re an Elf or a Klingon.

Chapter 1: Introduction and Rules
Book Blessing
Code of Conduct
Rules of the Witch
The Threefold Law
Wiccan Rede- Original Version

Chapter 2: Beginnings
Beginning the Rite
How to Cast a Circle
How to Set up an Altar
How to Close Rite
List of Tools and Consecration Rites

Chapter Three: Advanced Beginnings
List of Wiccan Symbols
Wiccan Shorthand and Meanings
Moon Phases
The Elements

Chapter Four: Personal

Chapter Five: Rituals
How to Write a Ritual
Sabbat ~ The Wheel of the Year includes eight holidays for most Wiccans and Pagans, although some traditions do not celebrate all of them. Your BOS can include rituals for each of the Sabbats. For example, for Samhain you may wish to create a rite that honors your ancestors and celebrates the end of the harvest, while for Yule you may want to write down a celebration of the winter Solstice. A Sabbat celebration can be as simple or complex as you wish.

Dedication ~ If you’ve been initiated into a coven, you may want to include a copy of your initiation ceremony here. However, many Wiccans dedicate themselves to a God or Goddess long before they become part of a coven. This is a good place to write out who you are dedicating yourself to, and why. This can be a lengthy essay, or it can be as simple as saying, “I, Willow, dedicate myself to the Goddess today, June 21, 2007.”
Other rituals ~ If you’ll be celebrating each full moon, you’ll want to include an Esbat rite in your BOS. You can use the same one each month, or create several different ones tailored to the time of year. You may also wish to include sections on how to cast a circle and Drawing Down the Moon, a rite that celebrates the invoking of the Goddess at the time of the full moon. If you’ll be doing any rites for healing, prosperity, protection, or other purposes, be sure to include them here.

Chapter Six: Spells

Chapter Seven: Recipes
Ritual Foods
Baths Salts

Chapter Eight: Crafts
Candle Making
Ink Making
Dream Pillows
Book Binding
Natural Dying
Metal Working
Leather Tooling

Chapter Nine: Herbs
Herbal Correspondence
Homeopathy Terms and Cautions
Herb Gathering
Herbal Remedies
Herb Gardens
Herbs ~ Ask any experienced Pagan or Wiccan about a specific herb, and chances are good that they’ll expound on not only the magical uses of the plant but also the healing properties and history of use. Herbs are often considered the core of spellcasting, because they’re an ingredient that people have used for literally thousands of years. Put together a section in your BOS for herbs and their uses. Remember, many herbs should not be ingested, so it’s important to research thoroughly before you take anything internally.

Chapter Ten: Advanced Magick
Crystals and their purposes
Astral Projection
Divination ~ If you’re learning about Tarot, scrying, astrology, or any other form of divination, keep information in here. When you experiment with new methods of divination, keep a record of what you do and results you see in your Book of Shadows.

Knot Magick

Chapter Eleven
Gods--( includes different gods, such as Celtic, that is within your interest.
Goddesses--( any of your choose and who you worship)

Chapter Twelve: Sun and Moon
The Sun
The Moon

Chapter Thirteen: Fringe
Feng Shui

Chapter Fourteen: Articles
Magick Articles of Interest
History of Tarot
Different Magickal Traditions
Wiccan History
Pagan Comedy

Chapter Fifteen: Glossary of Terms
Proper Names
Terms--not discussed earlier

Chapter Sixteen: Bibliography

Chapter Seventeen: Your Index

Some of the Above may contain some or all of the items listed, it is your choice to make your BOS, as you want it.

Other Ideas
Sacred texts: While it’s fun to have a bunch of new shiny books on Wicca and Paganism to read, sometimes it’s just as nice to have information that’s a little more established. If there is a certain text that appeals to you, such as The Charge of the Goddess, an old prayer in an archaic language, or a particular chant that moves you, include it in your Book of Shadows.

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