Articles/Essays From Pagans
September 25th. 2018 ...
Understanding the Unseen
August 25th. 2018 ...
A Little Magickal History
Men and the Goddess
Back to Basics Witchcraft: Magical Creativity for Small Living Spaces
Kitchen Magic and Memories
Why the Faeries?
Magic in Daily Life
An Open Fire: Healing from Within
Cernunnos: The Darkest Wood in the Moon's Light
Gudrun of the Victory Gods
Ares and Athena
La Santa Muerte... The Stigma and the Strength
The Lady on the Stairs
The Wheel of the Year in Our Daily Lives
July 26th. 2018 ...
The Importance of Unification: Bringing Together Community Members to Invoke Cohesivity
May 29th. 2018 ...
Wild Mountain Woman: Landscape Goddess
April 20th. 2018 ...
Nazis Made Us Change Our Name
January 25th. 2018 ...
Finding Balance: Discipline Wedded to Devotion
November 15th. 2017 ...
September 30th. 2017 ...
July 31st. 2017 ...
Sin Eaters and Dream Walkers
July 2nd. 2017 ...
On Cursing: Politics and Ethos
June 1st. 2017 ...
The Sacred Ego in Mediterranean Magical Traditions
April 30th. 2017 ...
Tarot Talk: the Knight of Pentacles
March 30th. 2017 ...
Tarot Talk: the Ace of Swords
January 10th. 2017 ...
The Gray of 'Tween
Becoming a Sacred Dancer
Little Dog, Big Love
December 9th. 2016 ...
A Child's First Yule
November 10th. 2016 ...
What Exactly Is Witchcraft?
A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities
On Death and Passing: Compassion Burnout in Healers and Shamans
What I Get from Cooking (And How it’s Part of My Path)
September 11th. 2016 ...
The Shadow of Disgust
August 12th. 2016 ...
When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch
Hungarian Belief in Fairies
Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament
July 13th. 2016 ...
What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses
Magic With A Flick of my Finger
Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum
An Open Mind and Heart
June 13th. 2016 ...
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
The Fear of Witchcraft
Magic in Sentences
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
December 20th. 2015 ...
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
May 6th. 2015 ...
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
January 1st. 2015 ...
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
September 28th. 2014 ...
Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials
Creating a Healing Temple
August 31st. 2014 ...
Coven vs. Solitary
August 24th. 2014 ...
The Pagan Cleric
A Gathering of Sorcerers (A Strange Tale)
August 17th. 2014 ...
To Know, to Will, to Dare...
On Grief: Beacons of Light in the Shadows
August 10th. 2014 ...
As a Pagan, How Do I Represent My Path?
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
What Should I Put In My Book of Shadows?
Article ID: 13538
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,392
Times Read: 27,233
RSS Views: 24,278
Author: Bronwen Forbes [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: October 4th. 2009
Times Viewed: 27,233
The most common question I’ve seen on various online forums and been asked by my own students is, “What should I put on my altar?” The second most common question is “What should I put in my Book of Shadows?” For some reason, the Book of Shadows – like an altar – is something that most Pagans are scared spitless about “messing up.” They will go out and buy a lovely bound blank journal from their local mega chain bookstore or a leather-bound notebook with a pentacle carved on the front, and do absolutely nothing with it for years.
I freely admit that I am guilty of this; I have *both* a bound blank journal from my local mega chain bookstore *and* a leather-bound notebook (black leather, no less) with Celtic knotwork carved on the front and they are both, well, basically blank. My excuse is that my handwriting is lousy and I don’t want to “mess them up.”
The first step toward the fulfillment (literally and figuratively) of a Book of Shadows is to determine exactly what a Book is and what it does. A Book of Shadows is part poetry collection, part journal, part dictionary and encyclopedia, part recipe book and part ritual construction guide (I’ll go over these in a minute) . Depending on your own interests and practice, some of these parts may be bigger than others in your own Book. What a Book of Shadows *does* is keep all of this information in safe, easily referenced place.
Does it actually have to be in book form? Nope! My journal and leather notebook are blank, but I have a four-drawer file cabinet stuffed (and I do mean stuffed. Trust me, I recently moved it halfway across the country) with printouts and photocopies of articles I’ve found useful to my practice and my writing in the past or that may be useful in the future; copies of poems I think might be nice to read in ritual someday; notes on how to teach a basic Tarot class; handouts from workshops I’ve taken on Norse spaeworking, knot/string magic, and drumming; and scripts from old rituals I’ve led or attended, just to name a bit of it.
I guess you could say I have a File Cabinet of Shadows. It may not be pretty, or open to the exact file I need just by asking like the Hallowell sisters’ Book did on Charmed, but it’s mostly organized and I can find what I need in it pretty quickly. Also, as a recent flash drive accident reminded me, I can access the material in my file cabinet for years without worrying about hardware or software malfunction, unlike folks who prefer a Disk of Shadows or something similar. Also, barring an unlikely full-house-immersion flood, the material in my File Cabinet of Shadows will be around for a long, long time.
So let’s talk about the specific stuff you can put in your own Book. As you read more and practice more, you’re likely to run across bits of poetry that you think would be great to use in ritual. You might even be inspired to write some poems of your own. Your Book is the perfect place to store them.
If you do a lot of tarot or rune readings for yourself or others, or if you incorporate specific cards in your rituals, you can – and probably should – record your reading in your Book of Shadows. That way you can go back and look at it weeks or months later and see how accurate your predictions were. If you work with your dreams (interpretation, etc.) , your Books is a good place to record those, too.
There is so much material to absorb when you first start on the Pagan path. When is Samhain, and how do I pronounce it? What’s an athame for, and how do I spell it? When do I use a boline? What’s a thurbile?
You can make notes in your Book so you can look stuff up again later – much like you took/take notes in class. Writing this information down also helps you keep it all straight in your mind.
If you take a Paganism/Witchcraft 101 class and the teacher gives you handouts, either get a three-ring Binder of Shadows (not a bad idea, actually) and stick them in there or find some way to get the information from those handouts into your smaller Book.
If you like to blend your own essential oils or incense, or are an herbalist, your Book of Shadows is the perfect place to write down recipes you like and also make note of recipes or blends that didn’t work as well as you’d hoped.
You can also write down basic spellworkings as recipes, “Do this, then say that, then light the yellow candle, then do this…” Next time you need to do that particular working, the “ingredients” are all right there.
You can also write down the basics of how you’ve celebrated each sabbat/esbat. That way, when the holiday comes up again next year, you’ve got a record of what you did, what worked and what didn’t (you can write that down, too) , and you don’t have to reinvent the ritual from scratch. Also, if in January, say, you have a great idea for something to do next Samhain, you can write it down in your Book so a) you know where it is and b) you don’t forget it.
In short, a Book of Shadows is as individual as the person who makes it, and that’s okay. Let me repeat that: it’s okay to make your Book of Shadows uniquely *yours*. I have my File Cabinet. My husband, who learns best from watching other peoples’ mistakes, says that his Book (if he were to have one) would be page after page of “Don’t do” and “Never try.” Neither of us is particularly artistic (I’m even completely incompetent at scrapbooking) , but if you are, don’t be afraid to add artwork to your Book.
If you are an accomplished scrapbooker, use those skills to make your book even more personal. If you’ve traveled to a place that has particular spiritual significance for you, put some of the pictures you took or postcards you bought in your Book.
Couldn’t you just download one of the Books of Shadows on the Internet? You could – but I don’t recommend it. And that’s a subject for a completely different Witchvox article for another day.
In the meantime, my File Cabinet of Shadows needs dusting!
Location: Bloomington, Indiana
Author's Profile: To learn more about Bronwen Forbes - Click HERE
Other Articles: Bronwen Forbes has posted 36 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Bronwen Forbes... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2019 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections
(including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.)
are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc.
TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).